Hamlin holds off Kenseth for win at Michigan

Denny Hamlin
Getty Images for NASCAR

Denny Hamlin’s declaration this time last year was clear, simple and undeniable: “All we do is win."

That bold proclamation came after he captured the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway last June, his fifth of what would be a total of eight triumphs in 2010. It was also his second victory in a row and fourth in the previous eight races.

But Hamlin’s bravado this season has been relegated to the back seat with no victories; his mantra more like, “All we do is come close."

Hamlin found his groove again Sunday winning the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 for the second consecutive year. His last three finishes in Michigan have been first, second in August and first again today when he edged Matt Kenseth by 0.281 seconds – about four car lengths.

“Everyone knows that we’ve been strong and today we didn’t look as strong as we normally do here, but we got it working there at the end," Hamlin stated after his 17th career Sprint Cup win. “We made a magic adjustment and the car just took off. This is the point of the season where we really need to start hitting our stride. Hopefully we’ll have another good 10 weeks before the Chase starts."

Hamlin has been good but not quite good enough, according to his own perspective. He now has five Top-10 finishes and four top-five finishes and went from 12th to ninth in the Sprint Cup point standings.

While Hamlin dominated the June race at MIS last year he had his hands full and his rearview mirror bursting with images of Kenseth following a restart with five laps remaining following a brief yellow caution period instigated by Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s second scrape with the wall.

Kenseth tried to pass Hamlin on the high side on the last lap and when that didn’t work he tried a low route, but that came up short, also.

“We had a really fast car and thought we had a good chance to win today," said Kenseth. “I got a bad restart at the end and I got back to Denny but I couldn’t get around him. We were kind of slow for about 10 laps on each restart and then it seemed like we were the best car from 10 until we needed fuel. I just didn’t have enough time to get around him. I tried everything I could and I just couldn’t figure out how to do it."

A costly restart snafu late in the race cost Kyle Busch an opportunity at victory, but his third-place finish gave Joe Gibbs Racing two of the top-three finishing positions.

“We didn’t have a great day with that restart but we turned it into a pretty good one," Kyle Busch said.

“The 11 team (Hamlin) really, really helped us a lot last week (Busch finished third at Pocono) and I feel we helped the 11 team a little bit this week. It just goes to show we’re doing something right and we’re able to share information, which is good."

Earnhardt, with a pair of wall scrapes finished 21st, but maintained third place in the points chase. Rick Hendrick teammate Mark Martin caused one of Earnhardt’s wall bangers.

“The defining moment in the race for me probably was getting run into the wall by Mark," a very dejected Earnhardt said. “We had fixed the car, we were moving forward and we were doing pretty well at that point, but, you can’t do nothing about getting run over or getting run into the wall."

Earnhardt ran strong over the first half of the race and appeared to be a contender for the victory, his first since winning at MIS in June of 2008.

Martin said, “I don’t have a history of having problems and I don’t think I have one now. I think we’ll get it sorted out. I feel like I give everybody on the race track respect. I made a mistake."

Five-time defending champion Jimmy Johnson also had his difficulties, coming quickly and decisively. He spun out just eight laps into the race, had to have a sway bar replaced, fell two laps behind and couldn’t make it up, finishing 27th. It dropped him from second in the points race to fifth.

“We got turned around early and ground the sway bar off the right front and we lost a couple laps from that and were just kind of in a hole at that point and couldn’t get caught back up. It’s just part of it," Johnson explained.


1 10 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Office 47/1 200 Running
2 3 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Crown Royal 43/1 200 Running
3 24 18 Kyle Busch Toyota Snickers 42/1 200 Running
4 9 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet Pittsburgh Paints / Menards 41/1 200 Running
5 23 99 Carl Edwards Ford Aflac "Now Hiring" 40/1 200 Running
6 13 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet U.S. Army 236th Birthday / Bud Moore NASCAR Hall of Fame 39/1 200 Running
7 6 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Office Depot / Mobil 1 37/0 200 Running
8 27 33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Cheerios / Hamburger Helper 36/0 200 Running
9 19 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet GoDaddy.com 35/0 200 Running
10 4 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 34/0 200 Running
11 1 22 Kurt Busch Dodge Shell / Pennzoil 34/1 200 Running
12 12 51 Landon Cassill Chevrolet Thank A Teacher Today / Security Benefit 0 200 Running
13 26 43 A.J. Allmendinger Ford Best Buy 31/0 200 Running
14 22 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Budweiser 31/1 200 Running
15 7 16 Greg Biffle Ford American Red Cross / 3M 31/2 200 Running
16 17 21 Trevor Bayne Ford Motorcraft / Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center 0 200 Running
17 31 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet Drive to End Hunger 27/0 200 Running
18 30 20 Joey Logano Toyota The Home Depot 26/0 200 Running
19 14 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet McDonald's 25/0 200 Running
20 20 6 David Ragan Ford UPS "We Love Logistics" 24/0 200 Running
21 15 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Amp Energy / National Guard 23/0 200 Running
22 16 47 Bobby Labonte Toyota RainEater / Advance Auto Parts 23/1 200 Running
23 18 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford Dewalt 21/0 200 Running
24 33 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 20/0 200 Running
25 41 2 Brad Keselowski Dodge Miller Lite 19/0 200 Running
26 11 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 18/0 199 Running
27 21 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's / Kobalt Tools 17/0 199 Running
28 8 4 Kasey Kahne Toyota Red Bull 16/0 199 Running
29 40 34 David Gilliland Ford Taco Bell 15/0 199 Running
30 25 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet "Cars 2" 14/0 199 Running
31 28 38 Travis Kvapil Ford Fellowship of Christian Athletes 0 199 Running
32 35 32 Mike Bliss Ford blu Cigs 0 199 Running
33 5 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row Companies 11/0 199 Running
34 42 36 Dave Blaney Chevrolet Tommy Baldwin Racing 10/0 198 Running
35 2 00 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 9/0 180 Running
36 36 71 Andy Lally * Ford Interstate Moving Services 8/0 155 Accident
37 37 7 Robby Gordon Dodge Speed Energy / Walgreens 7/0 80 Vibration
38 39 13 Casey Mears Toyota GEICO 7/1 51 Electrical
39 34 46 J.J. Yeley Chevrolet Red Line Oil 5/0 47 Brakes
40 29 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota NEMCO Motorsports 0 44 Vibration
41 32 30 David Stremme Chevrolet Inception Motorsports 3/0 39 Clutch
42 43 181 Scott Riggs Chevrolet WhitneysCollision.com 0 30 Brakes
43 38 66 Michael McDowell Toyota HP Racing LLC 1/0 28 Electrical

* Denotes Rookie

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