Hamlin prevails at Kansas for fifth win of season

July had not been a very good month for Denny Hamlin. But it got much better on Thursday night when took the lead for the final time with 12 laps to and then went on to win the Super Start Batteries 400 at Kansas Speedway.

The victory gave the Joe Gibbs Racing driver a Cup Series-best fifth win of the season, and his second straight at the Kansas 1.5-mile oval.

To secure the victory, Hamlin, winner of this year’s Daytona 500, had to hold off Brad Keselowski of Team Penske. But hold him off he did, winning by just over a half second.

In his previous three races this month, Hamlin finished 28th, 12th and 20th.

Finishing third was Hamlin-teammate Martin Truex Jr., followed by Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing and JGR’s Erik Jones.

Defending series champion Kyle Busch didn’t get his first victory of the season but took a baby step forward by getting his first stage win of the year and collecting his first playoff point. With about 40 laps left, he took a big step backward, however, as he clipped the wall, had to pit and ultimately settled for an 11th-place finish.

Austin Dillon of Richard Childress Racing, who ended a two-year winless streak by winning at Texas Motor Speedway last Sunday, finished in 27th — 16 laps down — after getting caught up in a wreck.

That wreck also claimed two drivers clinging to hopes to make the playoffs; Matt DiBenedetto of the Wood Brothers and seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson.

Only seven races remain before the 16-driver playoffs begin.

The race comes four days after the Cup Series raced at Texas and marked the fourth time the series has raced in the last 12 days (including last Wednesday’s All-Star Race).

It was also the first scheduled Cup race on a Thursday since the July 4, 1985 Firecracker 400 at Daytona, won by Greg Sacks.

Blogs