Joe Gibbs Racing finds Vic­tory Lane

Ham­lin wins at New Hamp­shire; FRR’s Truex fin­ishes third

The Denver Post - - OFF & RUNNING - By Dan Gel­ston Chris Trot­man, Getty Im­ages

LOUDON, N.H.» Denny Ham­lin held off Kyle Lar­son over the fi­nal laps Sun­day at New Hamp­shire Mo­tor Speed­way to send Joe Gibbs Racing to Vic­tory Lane for the first time this year.

One of the top teams in NASCAR, JGR had yet to have any of its four driv­ers win un­til Ham­lin took the lead with 33 laps left and held off the hard­charg­ing Lar­son on the last lap.

Ham­lin needed his 30th ca­reer Cup vic­tory to se­cure a berth in NASCAR’s ver­sion of the post­sea­son and end a win­less streak that stretched to last Septem­ber at Rich­mond.

“Def­i­nitely needed a win for the or­ga­ni­za­tion, for my­self,” Ham­lin said.

Lar­son had a sen­sa­tional run from the rear of the field, where he was forced to start be­cause he failed in­spec­tion af­ter he won the pole. Lar­son lost his points lead last week and his crew chief was sus­pended af­ter fail­ing a pos­trace in­spec­tion at Ken­tucky.

Ham­lin crashed the No. 11 Toy­ota in prac­tice and was forced to race in a backup car. It seemed to suit him just fine at New Hamp­shire.

Fur­ni­ture Row Racing driver Martin Truex Jr. was third Sun­day, fol­lowed by Matt Kenseth and Kevin Har­vick.

JGR won seven of the first 12 races last sea­son and Carl Ed­wards was 10 laps from a pos­si­ble cham­pi­onship when he crashed out in the fi­nale. Daniel Suarez re­placed Ed­wards this sea­son and Ham­lin, Kenseth and Kyle Busch have made strong runs at the check­ered flag, but they couldn’t find the win­ning for­mula un­til New Hamp­shire.

“It’s not from a lack of try­ing,” said Ham­lin, who then scam­pered away from the lob­ster tra­di­tion­ally awarded to the win­ner in Vic­tory Lane.

Lar­son’s team was pe­nal­ized 35 points last week, eras­ing what had been a one-point ad­van­tage over Truex in the driver stand­ings. Truex, who led 137 laps Sun­day, leads the stand­ings by 38 points over Lar­son.

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