Denny Hamlin battled back from an early single-car spin that dropped him from the lead to 29th place to rebound and win Saturday’s Lakes Region 200 Xfinity Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Hamlin started from the pole and led 145 of the 200 laps in the event. It was Hamlin’s 13th career win in the Xfinity Series and his second of the season in eight starts.
“We had the best car, wow, what a day,” Hamlin told NBCSN.
Hamlin had late-race contact (Lap 179) with eventual runner-up Austin Dillon, who believed it was intentional.
“That wasn’t good racing,” Dillon said. “I hadn’t raced him all day. He was nervous or something. He got around me and just moved me up the track. He never wanted to race side-by-side with anybody. He wrecked his teammate in the beginning in the race.”
Dillon then made a vague reference about possible payback to Hamlin: “It’s all good. We’ve got plenty of races left. It’ll happen. I’ll get into him.”
Hamlin saw the incident otherwise.
“He jumped the restart, for one,” Hamlin said of Dillon. “I was eventually going to get back around him, anyway. I was a fender ahead, he drove in there knowing he was going to have to hold the position and I washed up into him.”
It was also Hamlin’s first Xfinity Series career win at the flat one-mile track.
Dillon finished second, followed by Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch and Daniel Suarez.
How Hamlin won: Hamlin had the most dominant car, plain and simple. That’s why was able to lead so many laps, as well as how he got around Austin Dillon after a late-race run-in between the two. Hamlin had never won an Xfinity race at New Hampshire before. Now he’s hoping for a weekend sweep, having two wins, seven top-five and 11 top-10 finishes in 18 Sprint Cup starts at NHMS.
Who else had a good race: Although he wasn’t happy with their late-race confrontation, Dillon had a strong run. Had there been maybe another five laps, he very possibly could have caught and passed Hamlin. With Sunday’s Sprint Cup race, might Dillon be looking for revenge against Hamlin in the weekend’s main event? Remember, Hamlin is locked into the Chase for the Sprint Cup, while Dillon is not. … Daniel Suarez had another strong race in his rookie NXS season, finishing fifth. … Chase Elliott closed Chris Buescher’s lead in the Xfinity point standings to just 14 points. However, Elliott, defending NXS series champ, remains winless in 2015.
Who had a bad race: Brian Scott was headed to a likely top-five finish until the motor in his Chevrolet blew up on Lap 164. It marks Scott’s fourth DNF this season, with the second time due to engine failure. … Elliott Sadler finished 17th, dropping from fourth to fifth in the NXS standings.
Notable: Denny Hamlin was leading on Lap 23 when he overdrove the track and was involved in a single-car spin. “That was impatience on my part, my bad,” Hamlin said on his team radio. Kyle Busch and Hamlin were both sent to the rear of the lead lap (positions 28 and 29). Hamlin made up 18 spots in 11 laps (Lap 34) and was back in the lead on Lap 43. … In each of their respective Xfinity Series debuts, Todd Peck finished 30th, while Matt Wallace, son of veteran NASCAR driver, finished 33rd. … Even though he finished fourth, Kyle Busch was unhappy with his final pit stop. Busch wanted four tires, but crew chief Chris Gayle called for four tires. “I wanted four, we just didn’t get four, so it doesn’t matter. We weren’t good enough to win, anyways. Obviously, the 20 (Hamlin) was, so more power to him.”
Quotable: “I don’t know, I don’t want to talk about it. He won’t be ready.” – Austin Dillon on the possibility he may seek payback from Denny Hamlin in Sunday’s Sprint Cup race after their tangle late in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race.
What’s next: Lilly Diabetes 250, Saturday July 25, Indianapolis Motor Speedway