Hamlin pulls away for win at Homestead
Denny Hamlin led 137 of 267 laps in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to win the rain-delayed Dixie Vodka 400 NASCAR Cup race at Homestead for his 40th career Cup win. It was Hamlin's 3rd win of the 2020 season.
He was the first driver this year to win both stages and the race.
Chase Elliott led 27 laps and held on for second place in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 9 Chevrolet. Ryan Blaney, who led 70 laps, took third in the Team Penske No. 12 Ford. Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Tyler Reddick secured his first top-five finish of his Cup Series career in fourth with Aric Almirola coming home fifth.
Hamlin started from the pole after a random draw, then swept both stages in his first race reunited with crew chief Chris Gabehart, who served a four-race suspension for a ballast violation in last month’s Coca-Cola 600.
Multiple delays for lightning strikes near the speedway forced two stoppages. Just 33 laps were completed in a four-hour stretch of fits and starts, and the race didn’t find its rhythm until nearly 8 p.m. ET.
With his 0.895-second victory over Hendrick Motorsports’ Elliott and Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney, Hamlin became the NASCAR Cup Series’ first three-race winner on the season. It was Hamlin’s 40th NASCAR Cup Series career win and third career victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway, tying him with NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart and Greg Biffle for most wins all-time on the 1.5-mile oval.
“Our car was just really good,” Hamlin told FOX Sports after climbing out of his race-winning No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. “This is the car kinda based off what we had here in the fall last year going for the (2019) championship. We had a strong car all day, obviously, with the laps led and able to get around Chase there at the end. This whole FedEx team has just done a phenomenal job and this Camry, this one is real special.
“I didn’t know. It seemed like the end of these races seem to be Chase’s best suit, but I knew that if I was just patient and ran the pace I wanted and the pace I was comfortable with we were going to be hard to beat in the long run.”
“Just need to get through lapped traffic better,” Elliott said. “I thought our Hooters Camaro really was good enough to win and I thought we executed a really nice race and kept it off the wall almost the whole race, kinda got it there at the end. But I’m proud of the effort and we’re bringing fast cars right now.”
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 1st
You stated on the radio that this is a championship-winning team performance. How important is this win with Chris Gabehart back on the pitbox?
“Definitely. Our car was really good. This is a setup based off of what we had in the fall here last year going for the championship. Had a strong car all day. Obviously with the laps led and was able to get around Chase (Elliott) there at the end. This whole FedEx team has just done a phenomenal job. This Camry is real special. Have to thank Coca-Cola, Jordan Brand, FedEx and all of our partners. Everyone at JGR for putting together great race cars and keep digging to make ourselves a little bit better.”
Did you feel patience would pay off and Chase Elliott would come back to you after the last pit stop?
“I didn’t know. It seems like the end of these races are Chase’s best suit. I knew that if I was just patient and ran the pace that I wanted and the pace I was comfortable with, we were going to be hard to beat in the long run.”
Describe the last segment and the racing with Chase Elliott.
“I knew with three runs to go, my crew chief (Chris Gabehart) was giving me lap times and saying that the 9 (Chase Elliott) had good stuff going when we had that big lead. Really, I think our strong suit was being able to run a good lap time no matter where we were on the track. He was able to short pit us there. I wasn’t able to come to pit road, I kind of missed pit road there and he was able to get us on that cycle. I just knew if I ran the pace I knew I needed to save the tires that I was going to be good in the long run.”
How important was this win to bounce back after Martinsville?
“This team fights for sure. My crew chief and myself had an hour-and-a-half phone call after Martinsville talking about how we’re going to go to work and keep fighting. This is a good response to a week like that.”
How do you feel about where your team stands looking at the big picture of a championship?
“We’re obviously in great position. We gained seven bonus points for the Playoffs. The driver gave away one at Bristol or else we would have four wins right now. I’ll take every win I can, let’s just keep piling them up.”
# DENOTES ROOKIE
(i) NOT ELIGIBLE FOR POINTS
(*) REQUIRED TO QUALIFY ON TIME
Feedback can be sent to email@example.com
Go to our forums to discuss this article