By Toby Christie (Originally appeared on RubbingsRacing.com)
Denny Hamlin drove like a man possessed in the final laps Monday at Martinsville. He was caught back around 14th with just five to go when he decided to stop for four fresh tires when virtually everyone else stayed out.
It looked to be Jeff Gordon’s race to win, but Denny Hamlin cut through the traffic going three-wide when he needed to do so. Hamlin was up to fourth with two laps to go, when his teammate Kyle Busch would crash to bring out the yellow flag. We would go to a green-white-checkered finish, and as we know those are always exciting.
Hamlin would get back to the lead on the final lap, after some of the most insane moves in recent history and a little nudge between Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth, Hamlin would hold on to win.
“You know, it’s one of the those things. Caution comes out, we’re sitting here third, mad because we got knocked around. Had the caution not come out, we would be over in Victory Lane,” Jeff Gordon said following the race.
Hamlin led 171 laps on the day, and he just showed he would not be denied on this day. This win will likely postpone his surgery on his ACL to Wednesday, but Hamlin needed a win more than anything with the slow start he has had to 2010. Hamlin was asked if it is frustrating that his surgery has been postponed due to rain.
“It was frustrating because I need every hour after it’s done (Surgery) to recuperate for Phoenix.. but this is a good alternative,” Hamlin said.
Hamlin came into this race 19th in the point standings.
Hamlin’s teammate Joey Logano was able to dodge the last lap chaos to finish second which moves him to 13th in the point standings. Jeff Gordon ended up a disappointing third, Ryan Newman came home fourth, and Martin Truex Jr. showed he had the “NAPA Know How” with a fifth place finish.
Kevin Harvick who led the points coming into this event had brake issues that relegated him to a 35th-place finish 100 laps off the pace. His teammate Jeff Burton was one of the strongest cars all day, but a flat tire by Burton is what brought out the late caution with less than 10 laps to go. Burton would finish 20th after leading 140 laps.
Jimmie Johnson now is the points leader going into Phoenix, he has a 14-point advantage on Greg Biffle.
This was an intensely competitive race, and a great debut for the new spoiler.