HAMLIN HAS SUFFICIENT SPEED AND FUEL AT END TO STOP HARVICK IN SUBWAY FRESH FIT 500
Denny Hamlin, a new resident of the Valley of the Sun, had just enough fuel in his FedEx Office Toyota to make it to the checkered flag in first place in Sunday's SUBWAY Fresh Fit 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Phoenix International Raceway.
Kevin Harvick, nearly on Hamlin's back bumper, ran out of fuel with slightly more than a lap to go but coasted home in second place. Greg Biffle finished third, Jimmie Johnson fourth, and Brad Keselowski fifth.
The win in some manner redeemed Hamlin's heartbreak of November 2010, when he had to abandon the lead in the Kobalt Tools 500 at PIR to take fuel late in the race. His 12th place finish that afternoon damaged his shot at winning that season's Sprint Cup championship.
"This is a bittersweet track (for me)," said Hamlin. "This is not really my type of race track; a new surface is not my forte.
"It (now) feels like 2010 when I started winning at tracks we weren't expect to win at," said the new series points leader after two events in 2012.
Johnson dominated a big portion of the middle of Sunday's race, building a lead of nearly four seconds over Kyle Busch before a wreck among A.J. Allendinger, Paul Menard, and Jamie McMurray brought out the yellow flag. A loose lugnut forced Johnson to pit twice during that caution period that came 22 laps before halfway. The Lowe's/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet never again was scored higher than Johnson's fourth place finish.
Most of the other leaders at the time stayed on the track. Not choosing to pit, Kyle Busch took over the front in his M&Ms Brown Toyota, and he soon was scored the mid-race leader.
Busch had his hands full, however, and Harvick and pole-sitter Mark Martin both passed him on lap 169. Green-flag pit stops starting on lap 181 shuffled the field with Martin Truax, Jr., and McMurray remaining as the last holdouts still on the track in the top two spots through lap 208. McMurray, after successful repairs to his car after the previous accident, was the leader when he came to pit road on circuit 208, but soon blew his engine.
Meanwhile, Harvick regained the lead after the green-flag stops and motored to nearly a five-second edge. Fluid on the track in turn 3 on lap 248 brought out the sixth caution. On the restart on lap 254, Hamlin jumped to the lead by powering fast on the outside of Harvick coming off turn 2.
Hamlin held off an aggressive attempt for the lead by Keselowski on a lap 261 restart, and Keselowski washed up the track off turn 3 to fall to sixth. From that point on, Hamlin enjoyed clean air at the front of the field, and any chance Harvick had of winning died when his fuel ran out.
Optimistic Hamlin, along with new crew chief Darian Grubb, already were looking forward to this season's next to last race when the series returns to PIR for the November 9-11 weekend. Fans also looking ahead to thrilling racing may purchase tickets now on-line at www.phoenixinternationalraceway.com.
Related PIR News
Kevin Harvick did something Sunday that no driver had ever done in the 52-year history of Phoenix International Raceway. The 39-year-old from Bakersfield, Calif. scored a victory in his fourth consecutive race in the same professional series at the legendary one-mile oval in the Arizona desert, leading 224 of 312 laps to win the CampingWorld.com 500.
Daytona 500 winner Joey Logano put on a dominating display at Phoenix International Raceway in Saturday’s AXALTA Faster. Tougher. Brighter 200, the fourth race of 2015 in the NASCAR XFINITY series.
Ruben Pardo earned his first NASCAR Mexico Series win at Phoenix International Raceway in the Toyota 120 on Friday. After starting on the pole, Pardo fell as low as 12th but fought back to the front in the late stages.
Pop music sensation Tori Kelly will perform the national anthem prior to the start of the CampingWorld.com 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday, March 15, highlighting the pre-race festivities. Kelly’s performance will be included in the live national television broadcast of the race on FOX at 12:30 p.m. local time (3:30 p.m. Eastern).
Phoenix International Raceway is encouraging fans to prepare for race day traffic by arriving early and enjoying the full NASCAR experience during the CampingWorld.com 500 event weekend, March 13-15. In addition to the CampingWorld.com 500 on Sunday, March 15 at 12:30 p.m. PST, the race weekend at PIR will include the Axalta Faster. Tougher. Brighter. 200 NASCAR XFINITY Series race on Saturday, March 14 at 1 p.m. PST and the Toyota 120 NASCAR Mexico Series race on Friday, March 13 at 7 p.m. PST.