NASCAR: Round 11 – Showtime Southern 500, Darlington – May 8

Denny Hamlin claimed his third NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory of the season on Saturday night at Darlington Raceway. Hamlin also won Friday’s Nationwide event, giving the Joe Gibbs Racing driver the weekend double.

A factor at the front for most of the race, he had to cope with a number of different challengers during the evening, although some of them ran into trouble late on which made things easier for him.

Polesitter Jamie McMurray lost the lead to Jeff Gordon on lap 1, who stayed in front until lap 38 when Brian Vickers took over ahead of the first caution of the day on lap 45 after Michael McDowell hit the wall in Turn 2 bringing out the caution. Jamie McMurray won the ensuing pit lane race and emerged on the lead ahead of Gordon, Vickers, Kasey Kahne and Jeff Burton.

A second yellow quickly followed on lap 53 for spins by Bobby Labonte and Joey Logano – Logano slamming the inside wall in the process. At the restart, Hamlin had crept into fifth position and at the next restart (after Paul Menard spun on the backstretch on lap 62) Hamlin was up to third for the restart.

The fourth yellow on lap 83 was triggered by a spin from Greg Biffle, which caused Martin Truex Jr to spin in turn who was then hit by Jimmie Johnson. Tony Stewart won the race off pit road this time by foregoing new tyres altogether – not by choice, but by not being able to get into his pit box due to congestion. Jeff Gordon was quickly past him on lap 91 as Stewart’s handling proved to be wanting without the fresh rubber. Stewart finally had to pit under green for tyres and fuel on lap 121, some 20 laps ahead of the rest of the leaders’ pit stops, but these also proved to be under green.

Hamlin was in the lead after that round of pit stops ahead of Gordon, Kyle Busch, McMurray and Kurt Busch. A yellow came out on lap 171 for debris in turn 2 after Sam Hornish Jr. hit the wall, and a sixth followed on lap 180 when A.J. Allmendinger spun in turn 3 and slid up the track, slamming into Jimmie Johnson totaling both cars – Johnson having only just got the free pass back onto the lead lap after his earlier accident.

After an extended caution, racing resumed on lap 190 with McMurray leading Kyle, Gordon, Hamlin and Vickers. Again, racing was shortlived with another caution on lap 200 for spins by Tony Stewart and Sam Hornish Jr. in separate incidents, triggering another round of pit stops. At the restart, Kyle Busch blasted his way past McMurray from second to take the lead for the next twenty laps before aother caution on lap 227, this time for Bobby Labonte’s strike against the wall after blowing a tyre on the backstretch.

David Reutimann won the race off pit road by opting for just two tyres: he led Jeff Burton, Gordon, Juan Montoya and Ryan Newman but Martin Truex Jr. had a transmission problem at the restart, stacking up the cars behind him resulting in David Ragan hitting the wall and bringing out the immediate ninth caution of the evening. Among those caught up in the trouble was Kyle Busch, who had to pit with some front end damage before the restart.

Now it was Jeff Burton’s turn to lead the field to the green flag. He led for 24 laps before Jeff Gordon got past, and Gordon led until an accident between Bobby Labonte and David Gilliland which put both cars into the wall brought out the tenth caution on lap 281.

Kyle Busch won the race off pit road with a two tyre gambit and led McMurray, Hamlin, Gordon and Burton at the restart but it was Hamlin who had the speed and who quickly took the lead. He held the lead through to lap 341, when just as he was overtaken for the lead by Jeff Burton the 11th caution came out for a Joey Logano spin just as a round of green flag pit stops was starting to commence. Jeff Gordon was the biggest loser at this point: he’s tried to get onto pit lane under green but was blocked by Tony Stewart, and the caution came out on his next try forcing him to stay out again. It put him to the back of the lead lap.

The pit stops popped Hamlin right back in front again ahead of Kyle Busch, McMurray, Kurt Busch and Montoya: Jeff Burton managed to run over an air hose and got handed a drive-thru penalty, setting him well back out of contention at the critical moment.

The green flag came out on lap 347, with Hamlin controlling form the front to take the chequered flag. Jeff Gordon tried making a charge from out of the top ten after the disastrous problems trying to pit and impressively passed Montoya for fourth before the chequered flag. But he ran out of laps to take the challenge all the way to the front, and Hamlin duly took the win.

Showtime Southern 500 race results:

Pos  Driver              Car        Laps
 1.  Denny Hamlin        Toyota     367
 2.  Jamie McMurray      Chevrolet  367
 3.  Kurt Busch          Dodge      367
 4.  Jeff Gordon         Chevrolet  367
 5.  Juan Pablo Montoya  Chevrolet  367
 6.  Kevin Harvick       Chevrolet  367
 7.  Kyle Busch          Toyota     367
 8.  Jeff Burton         Chevrolet  367
 9.  Ryan Newman         Chevrolet  367
10.  Brian Vickers       Toyota     367
11.  David Reutimann     Toyota     367
12.  Brad Keselowski     Dodge      367
13.  Matt Kenseth        Ford       367
14.  David Ragan         Ford       367
15.  Carl Edwards        Ford       367
16.  Mark Martin         Chevrolet  367
17.  Regan Smith         Chevrolet  367
18.  Dale Earnhardt Jr   Chevrolet  367
19.  Martin Truex Jr     Toyota     366
20.  Kasey Kahne         Ford       366
21.  Elliott Sadler      Ford       366
22.  Greg Biffle         Ford       366
23.  Tony Stewart        Chevrolet  366
24.  David Stremme       Ford       365
25.  Marcos Ambrose      Toyota     364
26.  Travis Kvapil       Ford       364
27.  Joey Logano         Toyota     363
28.  Scott Speed         Toyota     363
29.  Max Papis           Toyota     361
30.  Paul Menard         Ford       359
31.  Sam Hornish Jr      Dodge      358
32.  Clint Bowyer        Chevrolet  331
33.  Kevin Conway        Ford       309
34.  Bobby Labonte       Chevrolet  297
35.  David Gilliland     Ford       283
36.  Jimmie Johnson      Chevrolet  179
37.  AJ Allmendinger     Ford       178
38.  Robby Gordon        Toyota     170
39.  Todd Bodine         Toyota     47
40.  Michael McDowell    Toyota     44
41.  JJ Yeley            Dodge      42
42.  Dave Blaney         Toyota     35
43.  Reed Sorenson       Toyota     19

Standings after race 11, Showtime Southern 500:

POS +/-  DRIVER                 POINTS  BEHIND  ST  P  W  T5  T10
1   --   Kevin Harvick          1622    Leader  11  0  1  4   8
2   --   Jimmie Johnson         1512    -110    11  0  3  5   7
3   --   Kyle Busch             1509    -113    11  1  1  2   6
4   +2   Jeff Gordon            1475    -147    11  0  0  5   5
5   -1   Matt Kenseth           1472    -150    11  0  0  3   6
6   +1   Denny Hamlin           1458    -164    11  0  3  4   4
7   -2   Greg Biffle            1431    -191    11  0  0  2   7
8   --   Kurt Busch             1420    -202    11  1  1  4   6
9   --   Jeff Burton            1394    -228    11  0  0  2   4
10  --   Mark Martin            1357    -265    11  1  0  4   5
11  --   Carl Edwards           1345    -277    11  0  0  1   5
12  +1   Dale Earnhardt Jr.     1318    -304    11  1  0  1   3
========= CHASE FOR THE Sprint CUP - CURRENT CONTENDERS =======
13  +1   Martin Truex Jr.       1302    -320    11  0  0  1   4
14  +2   Ryan Newman            1280    -342    11  0  1  2   4
15  -3   Clint Bowyer           1280    -342    11  0  0  1   6
16  +3   Jamie McMurray         1279    -343    11  2  1  3   4
17  +1   Juan Montoya           1264    -358    11  0  0  4   6
18  -3   Tony Stewart           1259    -363    11  1  0  1   3
19  -2   Joey Logano            1198    -424    11  1  0  2   4
20  +4   Brian Vickers          1158    -464    11  0  0  0   3
21  +2   David Ragan            1142    -480    11  0  0  0   1
22  --   Kasey Kahne            1129    -493    11  0  0  2   3
23  -3   Paul Menard            1117    -505    11  0  0  1   1
24  +3   David Reutimann        1102    -520    11  0  0  1   1
25  +1   Brad Keselowski        1101    -521    11  0  0  0   0
26  -1   Scott Speed            1091    -531    11  0  0  0   1
27  -6   A.J. Allmendinger      1081    -541    11  1  0  0   1
28  --   Marcos Ambrose         1013    -609    11  0  0  0   1
29  +1   Elliott Sadler         971     -651    11  0  0  0   0
30  -1   Sam Hornish Jr.        952     -670    11  0  0  0   0
31  +2   Regan Smith            919     -703    11  0  0  0   0
32  --   Travis Kvapil          909     -713    11  0  0  0   0
33  -2   Bobby Labonte          899     -723    11  0  0  0   0
34  --   Robby Gordon           854     -768    11  0  0  0   0
35  --   David Gilliland        729     -893    9   0  0  0   0
36  --   Kevin Conway*          679     -943    10  0  0  0   0
37  --   Mike Bliss             578     -1044   8   0  0  0   1
38  --   Max Papis              499     -1123   9   0  0  0   0
39  --   Joe Nemechek           414     -1208   10  0  0  0   0
40  +1   David Stremme          392     -1230   5   0  0  0   0
41  -1   Dave Blaney            382     -1240   9   0  0  0   0
42  --   Michael McDowell       336     -1286   8   0  0  0   0
43  --   Bill Elliott           290     -1332   3   0  0  0   0
44  --   Boris Said             252     -1370   4   0  0  0   0
45  --   Michael Waltrip        200     -1422   3   0  0  0   0
46  --   Terry Cook*            164     -1458   3   0  0  0   0
47  --   Casey Mears            158     -1464   2   0  0  0   0
48  --   Robert Richardson Jr.  155     -1467   2   0  0  0   0
49  --   Aric Almirola          154     -1468   4   0  0  0   0
50  --   Reed Sorenson          120     -1502   3   0  0  0   0
51  --   Johnny Sauter          80      -1542   2   0  0  0   0
52  --   Scott Riggs            79      -1543   1   0  0  0   0
53  --   John Andretti          49      -1573   1   0  0  0   0
54  +1   Todd Bodine            46      -1576   1   0  0  0   0
55  --   J.J. Yeley             40      -1582   1   0  0  0   0
56  -2   Tony Raines            37      -1585   1   0  0  0   0
57  -1   Brandon Ash            0       -1622   0   0  0  0   0
58  -1   Derrike Cope           0       -1622   0   0  0  0   0
59  -1   Mike Wallace           0       -1622   0   0  0  0   0
60  -1   Norm Benning           0       -1622   0   0  0  0   0
61  -1   Jeff Fuller            0       -1622   0   0  0  0   0
Advertisements



    Leave a Reply

    Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

    WordPress.com Logo

    You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

    Twitter picture

    You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

    Facebook photo

    You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

    Google+ photo

    You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

    Connecting to %s



%d bloggers like this: