Denny Hamlin held off a charging Jeff Gordon on the final corner to win the AdvoCare 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway.“This is one I wanted real bad,” Hamlin said. “Pit crew. Pit crew won me the race. And that’s what a championship team is all about, having all those pieces of the puzzle put together. This year, I think we have it all.”
With five laps to go, Hamlin was third and Martin Truex Jr. had a commanding lead on the field, albeit with waning fuel supplies, when Jamie McMurray brought out the caution after blowing a tire. Truex, Hamlin and most of the other leaders pitted, but Hamlin’s crew won him the race off pit road.
Truex’s crew got him out second and Jeff Gordon third, but Truex spun the tires on the restart and watched his hopes of a win in sponsor NAPA’s backyard disintegrate. Instead, he was left with a great view of the battle for the win between Hamlin and Gordon.
Gordon moved to the high line as he came through the final two corners, trying to squeeze around Hamlin. But Hamlin carried enough speed to keep him in front as the duo battled through the frontstretch dogleg heading to the checkered flag.
“I’m just mad at myself right now,” Gordon said. “I guess I’m just getting soft in my old age; I’m too nice. You know, 15 years ago I would have just moved him right up the race track. I don’t know why I didn’t do that. I thought I could get to his quarter panel and slow him down and stay there. But I got there and I just carried too much speed into (turn) three and it pushed up the race track.”
Brad Keselowski turned a consistent night into a solid third-place finish, while Truex was relegated to fourth.
Despite battling a stomach illness all weekend, Alpharetta’s Joey Logano was the highest finishing Georgia driver, ending the night 18th. Unadilla native David Ragan finished 28th and Peachtree City’s Reed Sorenson finished 42nd.
AdvoCare 500 Unofficial Results:
Martin Truex Jr.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Sam Hornish Jr.
Juan Pablo Montoya