Martin Truex Jr. drove masterfully at Kansas Speedway on Sunday, but Denny Hamlin was better in the end and held on to win the STP 400.
It could be said that weather played a factor in the race. When the sun shone down on the track during the race’s closing stages, Hamlin took that as a beacon, made his move and snatched the lead from Truex Jr.
“I felt like all day I was behind the No. 56 (Truex Jr.), and his car looked so superior to the field,” Hamlin said after the race. “Whether it was coincidence or not, our car definitely seemed like, (relative) to the field, was better once the sun came out.”
The ever-changing weather conditions on the day, seemed to turn against Hamlin as the sun slipped behind the clouds. Truex Jr. made his charge to close within .772 seconds with 10 laps remaining in the race. Five laps later, the gap was less than a half second. Truex Jr. now-or-never moment came with three laps to go, when he tried to grab the lead from Hamlin.
“It was desperation - last-ditch effort - just trying something,” Truex Jr. said of his moved to pass Hamlin. “I was a little bit faster than Denny at the end, but he was running against the wall right where I needed to be, and I was just trying to gain a little bit of ground There was no chance to make it work.”
In the battle that raged on behind Hamlin and Truex Jr., Jimmie Johnson settled in for third. Hamlin’s win, his second of the Sprint Cup season, moved him up a spot to fifth overall in the drivers’ standings, while Truex Jr. climbed two places into second. Greg Biffle continues to lead all drivers after eight of 36 races.
NASCAR teams are now on their way to Richmond, Virginia, to race under the lights at the Sprint Cup Series 400 on April 28.