Race Weekend Central

The Big 6: Questions Answered After Denny Hamlin’s Home Track Win

Who… should you be talking about after the race?

After leading twice for 10 laps initially, a stroke of racing luck ended up putting Denny Hamlin in position to take full advantage on Easter night (March 31) at Richmond Raceway.

When Kyle Larson and Bubba Wallace tossed the race into overtime, Hamlin’s No. 11 crew pulled off a sub-9-second pit stop, putting Hamlin on the front row for the overtime restart. Hamlin got the edge he needed at the green flag, pulling away for the win at his home track.

See also
Denny Hamlin Wins in Overtime Finish at Richmond

The hard luck award of the night went to Martin Truex Jr. If there was a car that had the field covered, it was that of Truex. He even rallied back after pit stops with more than 50 laps to go after briefly dropping behind Larson. Sure, Truex was slowed by lapped traffic in the final stage, but it appeared that he had enough cushion to beat out Hamlin and Joey Logano for the win … until the late caution.


What… is the big question leaving this race in the rearview?

Truex made the allegation on his radio Sunday night. He was not done talking about it on camera either. So what was it? That Hamlin jumped the final restart on the way to his win.

NASCAR, for its part, said that the restart was clean.

Should NASCAR take more time to review restarts? Sure, if you want annoying game stoppages for replays like you see in stick-and-ball sports.

In the end, Sunday night was a judgment call made by humans, and unless you want robots calling races, it’s part of the balance between on-track calls made by those in a race control tower.

Where… did the other key players wind up?

Polesitter and defending race winner Larson rallied back after late contact with Bubba Wallace to finish third. Wallace, meanwhile, faded back to 13th after a bad final pit stop.

Despite leading over half the race, the overtime restart saw Truex fade to finish a disappointing fourth.

Logano finished second for his first top-five finish of the season.

When… was the moment of truth?

Hamlin’s chances to win got new life when late-race contact between Larson and Wallace forced overtime. It’s the first time this season a race has ended in overtime. After Hamlin’s crew got him out ahead, Hamlin took control on the restart to win.

See also
Monday Morning Pit Box: No. 11 Crew Comes up Clutch in Richmond

Why… should you be paying attention this week?

If there was a cement mixer on the track Sunday night, Truex may have tried to hit it out of frustration. When you are a past champion on a team that is one of the best in the garage, it is expected to feel like you can win races.

But when a drought continues like it has for Truex, it can light a match under a driver and team to race desperately for a win. Truex has been known to have trademark wins where he just obliterates the field on the way to a big win, and the No. 19 would like nothing more than to take out those frustrations very soon.

With another short track in Martinsville Speedway coming up next Sunday (April 7), Truex might have a chance at short track redemption.

How… much pressure is building for 23XI Racing?

Earlier this week, it was indicated that a key factor in Hamlin one day leaving Joe Gibbs Racing for 23XI would be if the latter was on the same level as JGR from an equipment standpoint.

Given Sunday’s late pit stop in which the No. 11 team cranked out a quick pit stop and the No. 23 lost spots, it’s clear that 23XI is good but not great when compared to JGR, at least in some regards. The more shortcomings happen to the cars of Wallace and Tyler Reddick, the more pressure will build over time.

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Kevin in SoCal

“and unless you want robots calling races,”

Robots already call the pit-road violations, you know…..

DoninAjax

As I understand the restart zone, as long as the second place car is not ahead of the leader when they get to the restart line, either one can accelerate after they get to the line. It didn’t look like Denny Humble took off too soon.

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