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Denny Hamlin Unveils The Key Factor Behind Upset Win Over Disgruntled Martin Truex Jr

Published 04/01/2024, 5:50 AM EDT

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It was certainly a home run for Denny Hamlin at Richmond. After all, what can be more special than clinching P1 on one’s own turf? The Joe Gibbs Racing veteran gambled on his fate, which paid off in the form of a second victory during the 2024 season. While Hamlin’s prowess as a driver remains unmatched, it was also the perfect amalgamation of his camaraderie with the #11 Toyota team that propelled Hamlin to outdo his teammate. As a result, Hamlin had to acknowledge his deserving team personnel for paving the way and earning him his 53rd career victory.

The 8.99 seconds that pushed Denny Hamlin to victory

After Sunday’s race at Richmond, NASCAR seems to take a lead in what a perfect pit stop looks like and how it alters the whole outcome of a race. The final pit stop this weekend seemingly demonstrated why Denny Hamlin’s pit team is ranked the best. Throughout the 400 laps on the Easter Sunday weekend, only two drivers emerged as probable victors, and neither of them was Denny Hamlin. Not in their wildest dream did anyone imagine he would have emerged as the victor.

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However, the impeccable performance of the pit members changed the final tidings of the race. Executing a four-tire stop in 8.99 seconds allowed Hamlin to trump his teammate Martin Truex Jr and Joey Logano. So naturally, Hamlin did not shy away from tipping his hat to the #11 team members in a post-race interview. “With the way the pit crew is performing this year, they are the ones, they honestly won this victory for us,” the veteran expressed.

The JGR also reinforced how the execution of the pit road strategy was the only key to winning the race. He added, “I pushed everything I could with my life on pit road, probably the fastest I went down the pit road all day long, because I knew it was gonna take all of us stacking good times and good metrics at the last stop to come out with the lead. It is one thing to trying to overtake one but to take over two everyone’s got to be top of the chart. So the pit crew I could tell how fast it was going about halfway through. I knew, oh boy they are going to give me a shot here, just don’t stall.”

While Hamlin left the track of Richmond with a victory to be cherished forever, his teammate Martin Truex Jr, on the contrary, was left with a sense of dissatisfaction while mentioning how pit stop woes have often ruined his chances at victory over the years. 

NASCAR Toyota Owners 400: Denny Hamlin Clinches Richmond Checkered Amidst Miserable Kyle Busch’s ‘Strategy Disruption’

Martin Truex Jr frustrated with similar kind of losses

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Throughout the Easter evening, Martin Truex Jr drove up front and won Stage 2 of the race. Holding on to his lead, the former Cup Series champion was just two laps away from notching his first victory of the season. However, Kyle Larson spinning on the track after Bubba Wallace’s nudge, threw a wrench at Truex Jr’s winning hopes.

An overtime and an aggressive restart relegated the driver from the lead to fourth position. Not happy with how it turned out, Martin Truex Jr cut a seemingly frustrated figure after the race and revealed, It’s unfortunate, but it’s happened a few times over the years. We were in a great spot and had a great Auto Owners’ Camry all night long and the guys did a really good job. Just got beat out of the pits and then he [Hamlin] jumped the start and just used me up in Turn 1.”

“Definitely s*cks. Another car capable of winning. We’ll just have to come back next week and try to get one,” he further added.

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Hometown Hero Denny Hamlin Wins Richmond, Capitalizing on Frenemy Martin Truex Jr’s Misery

Nevertheless, the race at Richmond delivered a nail-biting performance as it boiled down to taming the wet tracks and executing the perfect game plan to earn the best finish.

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Written by:

Ayantika Maitra

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Ayantika Maitra is a NASCAR Content Analyst at EssentiallySports. Using her affinity for research and storytelling, this English major has also woven some attention-grabbing pieces that have brought the women in NASCAR into the limelight. An expert in identifying trends and understanding audience behavior, she loves taking part in core sport reporting.
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Edited by:

Ariva Debnath