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Denny Hamlin wins Texas Motor Speedway despite penalties

Denny Hamlin wins Texas Motor Speedway despite penalties

Denny Hamlin wins Texas Motor Speedway despite penalties
April 01
11:27 2019

Driving the FedEx car for Joe Gibbs Racing, Denny Hamlin overcame penalties to secure his second win of the season during the 23rd Annual O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway on March 31, 2019.

Hamlin was third in laps led with 45, behind teammate Kyle Busch (66) and Hendrick Motorsports driver Jimmie Johnson (60).

Pre-race predictions had eyes on series leader Kyle Busch and race pole leader Jimmy Johnson, but despite laps lead, neither driver held on to the lead.

Denny Hamlin celebrates in Victory Lane with his crew members after taking the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 trophy for Joe Gibbs racing. Image by: Jordan Collard.

“It was not necessarily a track position oriented race,” FedEx crew chief Christopher Gabehart said. “We found a way to give [track position] away in the race a lot.”

After starting in the sixth position, Hamlin suffered an early penalty for speeding in pit road, removing him out of the top 10 for stage one.

The speeding infraction occurred when Hamlin realized he would run out of fuel after missing pit road and “came in hot”  to avoid burning fuel.

Hamlin came back to win during stage two, making him the fifth driver this season to win only stage two and also take the overall win, despite receiving another penalty for an uncontrolled tire violation on pit road during lap 173.

The decision to make the disputed call against Hamlin’s team came four laps later, according to the infraction sheet provided by Texas Motor Speedway. The infraction was given for an uncontrolled tire in pit road, meaning a pit crew member lost contact with an outside tire during a pit stop.

“NASCAR has done a good job of making everything pretty black and white on that,” Gabehart said. “In the heat of the battle, it’s my job to argue our case, especially when I think it’s close. That case we felt like it was, but the call didn’t go our way.”

Stage One leader Joey Logano was also hit with multiple penalties, tallying four infractions resulting in tail end penalties each time —  if the lap had a yellow flag, the driver would have to start their next lap at the back of the pack.

Coke sprays in the air as members of the FedEx racing pit crew celebrate when they learn of Hamlin’s win. Image by: Cameron Roe.

Joe Gibbs Racing is one of two racing teams to win the first seven races in the Monster Energy series, with three wins coming from Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski and Logano, and the remaining four from Team Gibbs’ Busch and race winner Hamlin.

“The 18 (car) has out-executed us a few races,” Hamlin said in reference to Busch.

Still eight points behind teammate Busch, Hamlin sits in the number two spot for the overall ranking in the Monster Energy series with 302 points.

“What I care about is running [well] every single week,” Hamlin said. “This year has just been different since the last four or five years, just in the sense it seems like we have speed. With a little execution I certainly believe we easily could be leading the points.”

UP NEXT: Drivers will take the track at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 7, 2019 for the Food City 500 race.

Featured Image: FedEx driver Denny Hamlin shoots two six-shooters provided by Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage in Victory Lane. Hamlin won the second stage, holding on for a first place finish at the 23rd Annual O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 on March 31, 2019. Image by: Cameron Roe.

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Cameron Roe

Cameron Roe

Jordan Collard

Jordan Collard

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