Denny Hamlin told his fans he would win the next Sprint Cup event after the race in Chicago and, a week later in New Hampshire, he has made good on his word.
Hamlin took command of the Sylvania 300, at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and finished more than two seconds ahead of second-place Jimmie Johnson. Jeff Gordon, who had started on the pole, ended up third. In Victory Lane, Hamlin said not finding “a way to lose” was the most frustrating part of the race.
“We had a goal of trying to get into the Top 10 by Lap 100,” Hamlin said. He actually assumed the lead of the race on Lap 94 and held it for most of the afternoon, losing a place only briefly during pit stops. “Just took my time getting through traffic. Just wanted to make sure that I didn’t make any enemies on the way to the front.”
The race winner praised his crew chief Darian Grubb. “I was a little nervous about how the conditions were going to change, Darian obviously gave me a lightning fast car today, and for me, my job was relatively easy.”
The “easy” day didn’t come without pressure. Hamlin had all but guaranteed a win after running out of fuel in Chicago a week earlier. He commented on how things done in getting caught in a moment can come back to haunt you.
“Yeah, it crosses your mind, for sure,” said Hamlin. “But once we got to about Lap 50 and started working our way to sixth, seventh position, I knew that we had the winning car.”
With two rounds of the Chase for the Sprint Cup in the books, Johnson leads the pack by the slimmest of margins, a single point more than Brad Keselowski. Hamlin sits just seven points behind the leader in third place and Tony Stewart in fourth, 10 points off the pace.
The NASCAR calendar heads to Delaware’s Monster Mile for the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway on Sept. 30, 2012.