No letting up… Hamlin continues hot streak with fourth win of season

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, August 20, 2019

BRISTOL – When the checkered flag dropped on Saturday night after 500 laps of racing at Bristol Motor Speedway, it wasn’t a surprise that one of the hottest drivers on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series brought his car to the top of victory lane.
Denny Hamlin chased down Matt DiBenedetto with 11 laps remaining with the final laps finishing without a caution to give Hamlin his fourth win of the race season.
The 38-year-old driver also marked the 16th time this season that he has finished in the top 10 and was his second win and 14th top-10 finish at Bristol Motor Speedway.
DiBenedetto who was the crowd favorite finished second and posted his second top-10 finish in ten races at the Last Great Colosseum. He has five top-10 finishes in 2019.
Kyle Busch who was looking to sweep the season series at the track finished fourth and still maintains the points lead by 39 points over Joey Logano who crossed the start/finish line in 16th place.
There were eight cautions in the race that covered 61 laps. The race was very competitive as there were 23 lead changes between 10 drivers. 
DiBenedetto led the most laps in the race with 93 followed closely by Brad Keselowski with 91. Hamlin totaled 79 laps led including the 11 that meant the most at the end.
Things didn’t start out exactly on the right foot for Hamlin and his #11 FedEx Freight Toyota team but the way he finished shows just how far Hamlin and his team have come and why they are on such a run in the 2019 season.
“That’s how it works right? In coach’s terminology, that’s the middle of the second quarter and there’s a long way to go,” said Crew Chief Chris Gabehart. “There are 500 laps in the night race and we have seen too many times cars that come up with some issues here and revamp and have some good finishes or win.
“Pitting under green and losing two laps is probably something that you don’t see very often here at this place. There is just no quit in this #11 team. It’s just too good of a team with too much firepower and its been that way all year long.”
Team owner Joe Gibbs said that the reason that Hamlin and his team are being so successful is the fact that Hamlin has matured into a solid driver with the help of Gabehart.
“I think that Denny is maturing and everything that is going on with him,” Gibbs said. “I know he has made a real effort in a lot of ways and is maturing as a person and certainly as a race car driver.
“I think that Chris also deserves a lot of credit. He has gotten Denny grounded and when you get a lot of confidence in your crew chief it makes a difference and tonight was a good example.
“Everything in the world happened tonight and we still won the race.”
Hamlin who had much of his early success on short tracks like Bristol, also admitted that at one time he always looked ahead to the short track events but now realizes that his team is capable of winning where ever they pull the car off the car hauler.
“This race is special just in general. I mean you see how many people were in the stands tonight and I saw the atmosphere really when I got here on Friday. It was electric,” Hamlin stated in a post-race interview.
“You could just tell this weekend was big. I got two or three texts from my crew chief saying this thing is really important to me just so you will know.
“He encouraged me to not take one lap off, that I have a week off ahead of me. He was switching the horse for the entire weekend,” Hamlin continued.
“I did not take a lap off tonight. It was great to come back from two laps down. I use to say early in my career that I just can’t wait to get to the short tracks and now I say I just can’t wait to get to any racetrack in general because we can win whether it’s a road course, a short track, or a superspeedway. We can win every single week.
“The last two months have been absolutely incredible and it just keeps getting better.”
The three through ten finishers behind Hamlin and DiBenedetto were Brad Keselowski (3),  Kyle Busch (4), Chase Elliott (5), Kyle Larson (6), Clint Bowyer (7), Daniel Suarez (8), Kurt Busch (9), and Ryan Blaney (10).
Other notable finishers were Logano (16), Jimmie Johnson (19), William Byron (21), Aric Almirola (29), Ricky Stenhouse Jr (33), and Kevin Harvick (39).
As far as points standing, following Kyle Busch and Logano are Hamlin (3), Martin Truex Jr. (4), Kevin Harvick (5), Brad Keselowski (6), Chase Elliott (7), Kurt Busch (8), Ryan Blaney (9), and Alex Bowman (10).
After taking a week off, the drivers will be at another iconic race track as they will take on the track at Darlington Raceway.

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