Denny Hamlin wins the NASCAR Cup race in Bristol

By | March 18, 2024

Nascar Cup Series Food City 500

Tire manager: Hamlin wins Bristol NASCAR Cup race Jonathan Bachman – Getty Images

How appropriate.

On a day when tire management was the essential element in a NASCAR Cup Series race, three veterans claimed podium finishes, with Denny Hamlin winning Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

In a race that saw 54 lead changes – a Cup Series short track record – Hamlin briefly lost the lead to Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr. in the closing laps, but regained it in traffic and beat Truex to the finish by 1.083 seconds. .

In a return to concrete after three consecutive spring races on dirt, Hamlin won his second straight race at the 0.533-mile speedway and his fourth overall, the second most among active drivers behind Kyle Busch’s eight.

The win was the 52nd of Hamlin’s career, 13th all-time and his first this season.

Nascar Cup Series Food City 500Nascar Cup Series Food City 500

Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 Express Oil Change Toyota, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 17, 2024 in Bristol, Tennessee.Jonathan Bachman – Getty Images

But the story was the tires and the mysterious way they behaved in a race where the track started to eat up to the cords after 45 laps in a green flag run.

Goodyear brought the same tire that ran smoothly during last fall’s Night Race, but on Sunday the concrete surface could not tolerate rubber. Instead, the marbles (small balls of rubber from worn tires) piled up high in the corners, making the top of the track untenable.

There were two variables that may have helped explain the tire problems. The temperature was about 10-15 degrees cooler than last year’s Night Race, which was held on September 16.

NASCAR also opted for a different resin on the bottom track than the PJ1 traction compound previously used.

Whatever the cause, with his short-track background, Hamlin was best equipped to handle the surprising situation.

“That’s what I grew up here on the short tracks in the Mid-Atlantic, South Boston (Va.), Martinsville,” said Hamlin, who grew up in Chesterfield, Virginia. “Once it became a tire management race, I really wanted to enjoy our chances.

“It’s clear that the veteran at Martin also knew how to do it. We just had a great car, a great team. The pit crew did a phenomenal job all day. I can’t say enough about it… Man, it feels so good to win in Bristol.”

Truex passed Hamlin for the lead in traffic on lap 483, but surrendered the top spot to the race winner a lap later as the teammates worked around slower cars. Truex’s tires gave up the ghost on the last few circuits as Hamlin pulled away.

“Apparently that’s what I had to make happen here in Bristol to have a chance at the win. I think this tire management thing fit into my wheelhouse here in Bristol,” Truex said.

“Man, the difference was coming out of the pits just that far behind Denny (after green flag pit stops on the final run). I had to use mine more on the last run. The last four or five laps of the race were a tightrope.”

Nascar Cup Series Food City 500Nascar Cup Series Food City 500

Ty Gibbs cruised the stages and led the second most laps of the day. Jonathan Bachman – Getty Images

Hamlin led a race-high 163 laps, while the four JGR drivers combined to spend 383 of the 500 laps at the front, with Ty Gibbs leading at 137, Truex at 54 and Christopher Bell at 29.

Brad Keselowski, a three-time track winner, finished third, 7.284 seconds behind Hamlin. Hendrick Motorsports drivers Alex Bowman and Kyle Larson finished fourth and fifth, respectively, as only five drivers finished on the first lap.

The last time five or fewer drivers finished on the lead lap was the June 6, 2004 race at Dover.

John Hunter Nemechek, Chris Buescher, Chase Elliott, Gibbs and Bell came home sixth through tenth, respectively.

Larson and Truex leave Bristol tied for the lead, passing defending champion Ryan Blaney, who finished 16th.

NASCAR Cup Series Food City 500 Race Results

Bristol Motor Speedway

Bristol, Tenn

Sunday March 17, 2024

1. (3) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 500.

2. (11) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 500.

3. (17) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 500.

4. (29) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 500.

5. (10) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 500.

6. (26) John Hunter Nemechek, Toyota, 499.

7. (34) Chris Buescher, Ford, 499.

8. (5) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 499.

9. (19) Ty Gibbs, Toyota, 499.

10. (12) Christopher Bell, Toyota, 499.

11. (7) Michael McDowell, Ford, 499.

12. (2) Josh Berry #, Ford, 499.

13. (6) Chase Briscoe, Ford, 498.

14. (25) Ryan Preece, Ford, 498.

15. (36) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 498.

16. (1) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 498.

17. (32) Justin Haley, Ford, 498.

18. (28) Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 498.

19. (33) Kaz Grala #, Ford, 498.

20. (15) Erik Jones, Toyota, 498.

21. (18) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 498.

22. (4) Joey Logano, Ford, 498.

23. (30) AJ Allmendinger(i), Chevrolet, 498.

24. (31) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 498.

25. (14) Kyle Busch, Chevrolet, 498.

26. (24) Todd Gilliland, Ford, 497.

27. (35) Carson Hocevar #, Chevrolet, 497.

28. (20) Daniel Hemric, Chevrolet, 496.

29. (9) Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 496.

30. (23) Tyler Reddick, Toyota, 495.

31. (21) Austin Cindric, Ford, 495.

32. (13) Harrison Burton, Ford, 495.

33. (27) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 495.

34. (22) Noah Gragson, Ford, 494.

35. (8) William Byron, Chevrolet, 492.

36. (16) Zane Smith #, Chevrolet, engine, 192.

Average speed of the race winner: 120.678 km/h.

Race time: 3 hours, 20 minutes, 41 seconds. Winning margin: 1.083 seconds.

Warning flags: 9 for 98 laps.

Lead changes: 54 among 16 drivers.

Tour leaders: R. Blaney 1-2;J. B flat # 3-20;D. Hamlin 21-25;C. Elliott 26;T. Reddick 27-30;B. Wallace 31-40; J. B flat # 41-47;B. Wallace 48-52; D. Hamlin 53-60;C. Elliott 61-64;R. Blaney 65-68; K. Busch 69-73;R. Blaney 74;D. Hamlin 75-82;R. Blaney 83-88;D. Hamlin 89-119;T. Gibbs 120-130;R. Blaney 131; K. Larson 132-140;T. Gibbs 141-145;M. Truex Jr. 146-149;T. Gibbs 150-153; K. Larson 154-156;T. Gibbs 157-158; D. Hamlin 159-162; K. Larson 163-165; D. Hamlin 166;K. Larson 167-170;T. Gibbs 171-181;M. Truex Jr. 182;C. Büscher 183-199;C. Call 200-223;M. Truex Jr. 224-235;C. LaJoie 236-239;C. Call 240-243;J. Logano 244-248;T. Gibbs 249-256;M. Truex Jr. 257;T. Gibbs 258-284;M. Truex Jr. 285-317;D. Hamlin 318-322;T. Gibbs 323-364; D. Hamlin 365-372;M. Truex Jr. 373;D. Hamlin 374-379;C. Call 380;D. Hamlin 381-398;T. Gibbs 399-425;D. Hamlin 426-447;M. Truex Jr. 448;B. Keselowski 449;A. Sagittarius 450-452;D. Hamlin 453-482;M. Truex Jr. 483;D. Hamlin 484-500.

Leader Summary (driver, lead times, laps led): Denny Hamlin 13 times for 163 laps; Ty Gibbs 9 times for 137 laps; Martin Truex Jr. 8 times for 54 laps; Christopher Bell 3 times for 29 laps; Josh Berry #2 times for 25 laps; Kyle Larson 4 times for 19 laps; Chris Buescher 1 time for 17 laps; Bubba Wallace 2 times for 15 laps; Ryan Blaney 5 times for 14 laps; Joey Logano 1 time for 5 laps; Kyle Busch 1 time for 5 laps; Chase Elliott 2 times for 5 laps; Corey LaJoie 1 time for 4 rounds; Tyler Reddick 1 time for 4 rounds; Alex Bowman 1 time for 3 rounds; Brad Keselowski 1 time for 1 round.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 54,5,17,6,42,12,19,20,41,4

Stage #2 Top Ten: 54,6,22,42,20,19,11,5,23,41

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