Denny Hamlin took his first victory at Kansas Speedway after beating the dominant Martin Truex Jr. to the chequered flag, with Jimmie Johnson a distant third.
The sun shone favourably upon Hamlin, who broke to the front as soon as the dark looming clouds dispersed during the final cycle of green-flag pit-stops, snatching the lead from Truex Jr who had led almost all the way until that point. In the last few laps Truex Jr raced back up to the rear of the #11 but after a few lunges could not find a way past the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, and had to settle for second.
“I know Martin was driving his heart out,” Hamlin said. “I know it’s disappointing not to win when you have a dominant car.”
Truex Jr. was left rueing the final stint of the race, which cost him a potential first Sprint Cup victory since 2007.
“I was a little bit faster than Denny at the end, but he was running against the wall right where I needed to be, and I was just trying to gain a little bit of ground,” he said. “It was desperation – last-ditch effort – just trying something. There was no chance to make it work.”
The second place finish did move him up to second in the championship though, behind fifth placed finisher Greg Biffle, who in turn finished behind Roush team-mate Matt Kenseth.
Polesitter A.J. Allmendinger had a nightmare race, his car suffering engine problems that slowed him down and dropped him several laps back. Jeff Gordon also suffered mechanical woes, his engine dying near the end of the race. Yet more engine problems blighted Toyota as well, with the Camry’s of Mark Martin, Clint Bowyer and Bobby Labonte all succumbing to failure and forcing them to park in the garage.
Results - 267 laps: Pos Driver Team/Car Time/Gap 1. Denny Hamlin Gibbs Toyota 2h46m44.000s 2. Martin Truex Jr Waltrip Toyota + 0.700s 3. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet + 3.324s 4. Matt Kenseth Roush Fenway Ford + 8.017s 5. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford + 14.317s 6. Kevin Harvick Childress Chevrolet + 14.498s 7. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet + 18.621s 8. Kasey Kahne Hendrick Chevrolet + 21.953s 9. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford + 24.049s 10. Kyle Busch Gibbs Toyota + 24.433s 11. Brad Keselowski Penske Dodge + 27.615s 12. Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt-Ganassi Chevrolet + 28.404s 13. Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Chevrolet + 30.714s 14. Jamie McMurray Earnhardt-Ganassi Chevrolet + 1 lap 15. Joey Logano Gibbs Toyota + 1 lap 16. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford + 1 lap 17. Kurt Busch Phoenix Chevrolet + 1 lap 18. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet + 1 lap 19. Sam Hornish Jr Penske Dodge + 1 lap 20. Ryan Newman Stewart-Haas Chevrolet + 2 laps 21. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet + 3 laps 22. Jeff Burton Childress Chevrolet + 3 laps 23. Aric Almirola Petty Ford + 3 laps 24. Regan Smith Furniture Row Chevrolet + 4 laps 25. Travis Kvapil BK Toyota + 4 laps 26. Casey Mears Germain Ford + 4 laps 27. David Gilliland Front Row Ford + 4 laps 28. Reed Sorenson FAS Lane Ford + 4 laps 29. David Reutimann Baldwin Chevrolet + 5 laps 30. David Ragan Front Row Ford + 5 laps 31. JJ Yeley Robinson-Blakeney Toyota + 6 laps 32. AJ Allmendinger Penske Dodge + 10 laps Retirements: Mark Martin Waltrip Toyota 255 laps Landon Cassill BK Toyota 214 laps Bobby Labonte JTG Daugherty Toyota 132 laps Clint Bowyer Waltrip Toyota 125 laps Dave Blaney Balwin Chevrolet 82 laps David Stremme Inception Toyota 80 laps Josh Wise Front Row Ford 65 laps Michael McDowell Parsons Ford 58 laps Joe Nemechek NEMCO Toyota 47 laps Mike Bliss Humphrey Smith Toyota 27 laps Scott Riggs R3 Chevrolet 18 laps