CONCORD, North Carolina — Denny Hamlin led the first 40 laps of Sunday’s Bank of America 500, but his No. 11 Toyota didn’t have the speed to challenge Martin Truex Jr. for the win.
Hamlin finished fourth in the race, giving the No. 11 Toyota its fifth top five in the last seven races.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver pointed to struggles on restarts as part of the reason he never consistently challenged for the lead after the opening of the race, though he led five laps during green flag pit stops mid-race.
“Really just couldn’t overcome the track position,” Hamlin told NBC. “I really didn’t think we had much of a faster than where we finished anyway.”
Hamlin was so bad on restarts he had his team ask Furniture Row Racing if he could restart on the inside on one of the final restarts. They declined.
“Just struggled to get through Turns 1 and 2 on restarts and (Turns) 3 and 4 until the (tire) pressures built up ,” Hamlin said. “Like I always say, I’d rather run better and finish worse than the opposite.”
Hamlin’s voice was noticeably hoarse following the 337-lap race on a very humid day at the track. His Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch suffered from heat stroke-like conditions and elevated carbon monoxide readings, created in-part by damage to his car.
“It’s nothing I haven’t seen before,” said Hamlin of his own physical condition. “You’re prepared for it. We always know the 500 miles here at Charlotte is like 600 somewhere else sometimes. I think the humidity probably is what drained me the most today. You know, like I say, there’s a lot of salt stains all over my suit, so that tells me dehydration was definitely a factor today.”
BRANDT Professional Agriculture will return as a sponsor for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series, the team announced Wednesday.
The company will be a primary sponsor of Justin Allgaier‘s No. 7 Chevrolet in 19 races and an associate sponsor of Allgaier and his three teammates the rest of the season.
Brandt has sponsored Allgaier for eight years, including the last three with JR Motorsports.
Allgaier is a native of Riverton, Illinois, which is 15 miles from Springfield, Illinois, where the company is headquartered.
Allgaier, 31, is coming off his second season that ended with him in the Championship 4. He earned two wins, 10 top five and 17 top-10 finishes. He also led a series-high 495 laps among Xfinity regulars.
NASCAR has changed how it determines the Rookie of the Year in all three national series, it announced Thursday.
The new system, which will debut in a month at Daytona International Speedway, reflects the points system that decides the champion in each series, including the stage format in races.
A race win will earn a rookie candidate 40 points and five playoff points. A second-place finish will is worth 35 points and a third-place finish is 34 points, etc.
A rookie candidate who wins a stage will earn 10 points and one playoff point.
“The focus on our rising stars has never been stronger and simplifying the Sunoco Rookie of the Year system made perfect sense,” said Jim Cassidy, NASCAR’s senior vice president of racing operations in a press release. “Our fans track closely the progress of our young drivers and matching the Sunoco Rookie of the Year points structure with the championship points will help them follow this prestigious program and award more closely than ever before.”
Watkins Glen International and Michigan International Speedway announced multi-year sponsorship deals for their Cup Series races Thursday.
WGI announced the Aug. 5 race at the road course will be sponsored by GoBowling.com. The 90-lap race will be called “Go Bowling at the Glen.”
This is not the first time the bowling brand has sponsored a Cup event. It sponsored the spring race at Kansas Speedway from 2016-17 and the August event at Pocono Raceway from 2013-14.
As part of the deal, Go Bowling will have two bowling lanes at the track for the race weekend.
Michigan has renewed its sponsorship deal with FireKeepers Casino Hotel for its June Cup race for “many years.”
The hotel in Battle Creek, Michigan, began its relationship with MIS by sponsoring pole day in 2014. It began sponsoring the June race in 2016.
TheFireKeepers Casino 400 is scheduled for June 10.
ISM Raceway (Phoenix) also announced the title sponsor for its March 11 Cup race.
The event will called the TicketGuardian 500.
TicketGuardian is a mobile ticketing insurance provider. When fans purchase tickets to events at ISM Raceway, they will be given the option to add TicketGuardian’s ticket protection coverage. This allows fans to have insurance on the tickets they’ve purchased in advance.