Hamlin holds off Larson to win at New Hampshire

What you need to know from the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday:


WINNER: Denny Hamlin snapped a 28-race winless streak, edging Kyle Larson to score the first victory of the season for a Joe Gibbs Racing driver.

"It's a great feeling” Hamlin said in victory lane. “We've been getting better and better as the year goes on. Definitely needed a win for the organization, for myself, to get some momentum going with the playoffs coming up. This was awesome. “It's a team effort. And for them to do the extra work -- to get us an engine change before qualifying -- was key and really paid off.”

Hamlin took the lead from JGR teammate Matt Kenseth on Lap 267 and then held off a hard-charging Larson on the final 34 laps for his first victory-lane celebration since winning Sept. 10, 2016, at Richmond Raceway.Hamlin, who was forced to go to a backup car for qualifying and the race, led 54 laps to bring Joe Gibbs Racing its first win since Carl Edwards won at Texas Motor Speedway last November. Larson finished second, followed by Martin Truex Jr., Kenseth and Kevin Harvick.

TOUGH TIMES: Local fan favorite Joey Logano suffered another disappointing day after taking his No. 22 Ford to the garage on Lap 177. The Connecticut native came to pit road under green to repair a tire but after getting back on the track immediately returned so his Team Penske crew could make further repairs as smoke streamed out of the rear of the car. NASCAR confiscated a ''rear suspension part'' before Logano returned to the track - a very unusual move. Since his April win at Richmond Raceway was encumbered by NASCAR, Logano has earned only two top-10 finishes in 10 races and currently sits outside of the 16-driver playoff field.

BACK IN ACTION: Richard Petty Motorsports driver Aric Almirola returned to racing for the first time since breaking his back during a vicious crash at Kansas Speedway in May. Almirola missed seven races in the No. 43 Ford before being cleared by doctors to return.

BEEN CAUGHT SPEEDING: Race leader Kyle Busch brought his car down pit road under green for what he hoped would be his final stop of the day on Lap 238 of 301. The 2015 series champion had been in prime position to finally score his first victory of the season only to be flagged for speeding on pit road. Busch was forced to serve a pass-thru penalty but remained on the lead lap. The race marked the fourth time Busch had been nabbed for speeding on pit road. Twenty-five laps later, Busch was caught speeding entering pit road again.

STAGE 2: Busch led the segment from start to finish, cruising to a more than 5-second lead as the stage came to an end. Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin finished second, followed by Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson.

HOLE OUT: NASCAR threw the red flag before starting Stage 2 as a pothole was discovered on the track surface between Turns 3 and 4. The field had been driving around the 1.058-mile oval under caution on Lap 80, getting ready to start the second segment when NASCAR ordered the field back to pit road so crews could work on repairing the asphalt. The red flag lasted 5 minutes and 30 seconds.

STAGE 1: Pole-sitter Martin Truex Jr. led all 75 laps of the opening segment to score his 14th stage win of the season. Matt Kenseth was second, and Kyle Larson, who started in the rear of the field after failing post-qualifying inspection, passed nearly all of his competitors to finish third. Larson’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Jamie McMurray finished fourth, followed by Kyle Busch in fifth.

EARLY OUT: Erik Jones crashed into the outside wall on Lap 41 after his left-front tire went down. Jones appeared to make contact on pit road with Kasey Kahne after a competition caution on Lap 35. The left side of Jones' No. 77 Toyota contacted Kahne’s No. 5 Chevrolet after pulling out of his pit stall, and the tire went down on the track shortly after the restart. “It’s just unfortunate,” Jones said after being checked and released from the infield care center. "The car was pretty fast. I thought we had probably an easy top-10 car, if not a few adjustments away from being a top-five car, so just really didn’t need a day like this trying to make the playoffs here.”

JUMPING THE START: Just minutes into stage 1, Johnson pulled down pit road for a pass-thru penalty. Johnson, who started second, on the outside to Truex, was penalized for crossing the start/finish line before Truex on the initial start. According to NASCAR rules, the second-place driver cannot take off ahead of the lead driver on the first green flag. Johnson served his penalty and dropped to the back of the field but was able to stay on the lead lap.

© 2017 WVEC-TV


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