Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin in the No.11 Fed Ex Toyota was delighted to take victory in Wednesday’s rain shortened Toyota 500 at Darlington Raceway. The shortened race didn’t take away from his victory or the excitement of the event which was NASCAR’s first midweek race since 1984.
The weather in Darlington has been terrible over the last few days and having been able to get the Toyota 500 in on Wednesday was a boost for the series as they prepare for this weekend’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Hamlin started the race r4om 16th place and made his way through the field battling with Stewart Haas Racing’s Clint Bowyer before Bowyer was forced to retire from the race.
Hamlin had a great fight with his his team mate Kyle Busch in the No.18 M&M Brownie Toyota with the pairing coming home first and second to give Joe Gibbs Racing a well deserved 1-2 finish.
Speaking following the race Hamlin said:
Yeah, it was good. We were really good all day, all night, whatever. We made really good adjustments between the two races, really worked hard to get our car a little bit better than what it was here on Sunday. Really things just kind of worked out.
We got that long green flag run where we made up a lot of track position. I don’t know where we restarted but we certainly made up a lot of spots, got pretty close there to Chase before the caution came out. It was just going to be a few laps before we overtook him.
At that point Brad stays out, four cars on the lead lap. I thought the right strategy, since the 15 was in the mix, I thought the strategy you wanted to be on the outside on restarts anyway, so I wanted to come out from pit road last, that way we had fresh tires over Chase, who stayed out there and had two lap tires.
At that point, another caution comes. We decide to stay out because we had just taken tires. We didn’t have enough tires left. We were trying to re-glue those tires that had two laps on them. Wasn’t able to get them glued up in time for us to pit. We decided to stay out, and it was the right call.