Hamlin flirted with Carl Edwards for the lead late in the race, and set up the move with 39 laps remaining Saturday night. Hamlin used a slide move to get past Edwards, then held on as Edwards tried to use a cross-over move to get back in front.
“It just hauled the mail. This is just a big win, I don’t know how else to explain it.”
There’s two races left before the field is reset for the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, and seeding is done by “regular-season” wins. With three victories, Hamlin is tied with defending champion Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski for most in the series.
The four would be tied for the top seed right now, but all want at least one more win to break the logjam.
“We’re not done winning yet. We’ve still got a few more to go,” Hamlin promised.
Kyle Busch was a quiet sixth, Clint Bowyer was seventh and Joey Logano, winner of the Nationwide Series race Friday night, was eighth. Kasey Kahne and Paul Menard rounded out the top 10. Edwards ended up 22nd.
The race was the first since track owner Bruton Smith ordered a grinding of the top groove around the track in an effort to narrow the racing surface. His goal was to bring back bumping and banging to Bristol after several consecutive disappointing crowds.
Although the race wasn’t a sellout, Hamlin noted “this is the biggest crowd I’ve seen here in forever.”
But it created many unknowns as few were sure how the race would develop.
Asked Friday when it would become evident what the track changes had accomplished, Stewart mockingly said “exactly on lap 236. Not a lap before, not a lap after.”View Entire Story
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