Hamlin Continues Darlington Streak
DARLINGTON, S.C. - Denny Hamlin captured the win in Friday night’s NASCAR Nationwide Series Royal Purple 200 to remain undefeated in the three races he’s started from the pole in at Darlington Raceway.
After skipping the 2009 event and failing to qualify in 2008, Hamlin backed up his wins from the pole in 2006 and 2007 with another commanding victory.
Hamlin led 111 of the 147 laps and held off his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch for his 10th career win. The victory was also the first for crew chief Kevin Kidd since taking over for Dave Rodgers, who is now Busch's crew chief on the Sprint Cup side.
"This was a great race car," Hamlin said. "Congratulations to Kevin Kidd. Me and Dave (Rodgers) did, I think, a pretty good job building this program over the last three to four years and a lot of credit goes to Dave. He's moved on and had some success but now it's time for Kevin to show what he's got."
On the last restart Busch did all he could to get by Hamlin for the win, but he was forced to settle for his seventh top five of the season.
"If you don't get out front after the last pit stop you're stuck," Busch said. "That's it. You're stuck and you couldn't pass. Denny was good, don't get me wrong. He had a very fast race car as well as we did."
Jamie McMurray finished third in his fourth start behind the wheel of the No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet.
The Braun Racing teammates of Kasey Kahne and Jason Leffler rounded out the top five.
Brad Keselowski, who finished seventh, now leads the Nationwide standings by 55 over Busch.
“This is a place that I’ve run at and never got a top 10, so I’m pretty pumped right now," Keselowski said. "The guys that we’re racing in points, the 18 and 33, were in front and behind us, so the points didn’t change much tonight. I’ll just chalk it up to a decent night."
The race saw nine cautions - one shy of tying the record - with two of them involving the defending race winner Matt Kenseth.
The NASCAR Nationwide Series now heads to Dover International Speedway next Saturday afternoon.
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