CP MOTORSPORTS - HAMLIN COLLECTS HIS FIFTH GRANDFATHER CLOCK
After 500 laps at Martinsville Speedway Denny Hamlin got what he wanted – another grandfather clock.
The clock is a very special trophy for winning the STP 500. Hamlin's win was special given the challenges which have faced Joe Gibbs Racing.
“It is,” said car owner Joe Gibbs when asked if the win was significant. “I want to say a big thanks to everybody back at the race shop, all those guys back there. We've worked extremely hard. This sport is a humbling sport. It shows you how hard it is. We work hard, extremely hard, and yeah, it's been a long time since we've won a race. But I took -- I really felt great that we were able to run that well last week and led laps, had a chance with two of our cars, and then this week to come back on a short track and run the way we did.
“Denny and the guys, David, really overcame a lot. But, the thing I kind of focus on, and it tells you how hard our sport is, so each one of these things, when you win one, it's a humbling experience that you really want to enjoy, and we're going to do that this week.
While Joe Gibbs Racing enjoys the win, Team Penske will not cry out they are damaged by a second place finish.
“Yeah, it was a good run,” remarked Brad Keselowski, second to Hamlin. “(This was an) up-and-down day for us and we finished on a strong note, just not quite as strong as we wanted to. But man, it was a fun race. That's the best we've ever been here at Martinsville. Pumped about that but a little disappointed I'm not taking home a clock. That's how it goes sometimes.
“All in all, a really solid day, a fun day, and just one spot short.”
While Hamlin and Keselowski battled for the win, the rest of the field simply hung on. Joey Logano, Matt Keseth and David Ragan, subbing for the injured Kyle Busch, rounded out the top five. Martin Truex, Jr, Danica Patrick, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon and Jamie McMurray rounded out the top ten.
Gordon actually had a shot at winning the race until he was caught exceeding the pit road speed limit on the final pit stop.
“Oh, my gosh. I’m so disappointed in myself,” admitted Gordon, who clearly took the blame for the disgression which cost the chance for the win, “I know I was pushing the limit. I didn’t think I had done anything different than I had all day long when I was behind other guys, so, we’ve got to look at that. I’m very, very disappointed. I felt like we finally got the car, got ourselves in a position to win that race. It was a struggle. We were really battling with tire wear and the car getting really loose with our AXALTA Chevrolet. I thought Denny (Hamlin) had the best car, but I thought with our track position there at the end, we had a shot at it. Oh my gosh, I’m so disappointed. I don’t even know what to say right now. Of course, then the car is the absolute best it had been all day when I drove up from the back (laughs).”
Three drivers suffered issues which literally ruined their days – AJ Allmendinger, Austin Dillon and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Allmendinger was one of the first to fall out of the STP 500. Allmendinger went to the garage at lap 177.
“Motor issues of some sort,”stated Allmendinger when asked what happenned. “ I’m not sure what the exact problem is with the motor. We had a fast Bush’s Beans Chevy just trying to be patient. There were a lot of guys already starting to wreck out there, so I was just trying to keep the car clean for the first 400 laps.:
Fifty-one laps later Dale Earnhardt Jr., was involved in a four car acident which simply further added to the team's problems. Before the wreck Junior battled with a shifter which would not work.
“A lot of guys I think are having some transmission or gear problems,” said Earnhardt. “We got some real bad vibration in the car 30 laps into the race and it just kept breaking the shifter. The vibration is so bad it breaks the shifter off. It breaks right off, right at the top of the transmission. It’s just swinging up there just like a tuning fork. We got another shifter on it, a different one finally. We didn’t know if that was going to hold up. They stopped down there in the corner. I didn’t know they were stopping. I don’t know why they stopped. Somebody got checked-up there and we didn’t see it, didn’t have time, whatever; and knocked the radiator out of it. It’s been a tough race. The car has been fast and we’ve been having fun out there; but we’re not going to be having too much fun the rest of the day.”
Dillon became the second driver to shelve his helmet when engine problems ended his day.
“It is a motor issue. I think the same thing as the No. 47 (AJ Allmendinger),” stated Dillon. “We just have to do a better job of going through our procedures at ECR (Earnhardt Childress Racing) right now. We have some power, but we are not finishing races.”
Dillon admitted he could feel the engine
Dale Earnhardt Jr., struggled with a shifter problem and then ended up in the garage after being involved in a four car accident.
“A lot of guys I think are having some transmission or gear problems,” explained Earnhardt “. We got some real bad vibration in the car 30 laps into the race and it just kept breaking the shifter. The vibration is so bad it breaks the shifter off. It breaks right off, right at the top of the transmission. It’s just swinging up there just like a tuning fork. We got another shifter on it, a different one finally. We didn’t know if that was going to hold up. They stopped down there in the corner. I didn’t know they were stopping. I don’t know why they stopped. Somebody got checked-up there and we didn’t see it, didn’t have time, whatever; and knocked the radiator out of it. It’s been a tough race. The car has been fast and we’ve been having fun out there; but we’re not going to be having too much fun the rest of the day.”
Eaarnhardt refused to be seriously disappointed with the shifter issues. Once the team made repairs from the wreck Earnhardt was back on the track.
“I have had a lot of good cars here. You’ve got to be toward the front and out of trouble. We weren’t there we were in the back. And it’s high risk back there. It bit us today. I’m not going to second guess what we were doing. I feel like our team is strong. We won’t have any problem coming back.”
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series now has a weekend off so all the teams can celebrate Easter. After one week off the teams will drive down to Texas Motor Speedway one week before heading back to the Virginia/Tennessee area for races at Bristol Motor Speedway and Richmond International Raceway.