Hamlin Takes Home Victory At Kansas Motor Speedway
Taking advantage of changing conditions Sunday at Kansas Speedway, Denny Hamlin held off Martin Truex Jr. the final 30 laps to win the STP 400, his second victory of the season, his first at the 1.5-mile track and the 19th of his career.
The victory was the 199th for cars bearing the No. 11, breaking a tie for the all-time lead with the No. 43, made famous by Richard Petty, who drove to 192 of his record 200 wins with that car number.
Jimmie Johnson finished third, followed by Roush Fenway Racing teammates Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle. Truex moved into second place in the Sprint Cup Series standings behind Biffle, who leads by 15 points.
After a late round of green-flag pit stops put all the contending cars on the same sequence, the sun broke through the clouds for the first time all afternoon and changed the complexion of the race.
To that point, Truex had been dominant, having led 173 laps, but the changing conditions made Truex's Toyota "wrecking loose" in the words of the driver. Hamlin passed Truex for the lead through Turn 4 on Lap 237 and began to pull away, with Johnson pursuing from the third position.
As clouds covered the sun once again, however, Truex began to close on Hamlin and widen his advantage on Johnson. With 10 laps left, Truex trailed Hamlin by .772 seconds. Five laps later, Truex had closed to .489 seconds behind.
Truex tried to dive beneath Hamlin in Turn 3 twice in the final three laps but couldn't stick the pass.
Though Truex's handling ills and Hamlin's surge to the front coincided with the appearance of the sun, Truex blamed his problem on a bad set of tires for the final run.