Denny Hamlin overcomes pit woes to win Texas Cup race

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Denny Hamlin won Sunday’s Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway, fighting back from two pit road penalties in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500.

The Daytona 500 winner earned his second victory of the season. It is the 33rd win of his Cup career.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver led 45 laps and beat Clint Bowyer, Daniel Suarez, Erik Jones and Jimmie Johnson.

Hamlin had to overcome penalties for speeding on Lap 64 and an uncontrolled tire on Lap 173. He also missed pit road under green during a pit cycle in Stage 1 and had a slow pit stop after a tire changer dropped a pit gun.

“Just a fast car … that could really pass anyone in the field,” Hamlin told Fox. “That means a lot. It definitely was a different type of race here, trying to draft and everything and trying to get out of everyone’s way.”

Hamlin is the first driver since Brad Keselowski at Talladega on Oct. 19, 2014 to win a race after two pit penalties.
“I told them when I was making my way through the pack, ‘I know this really sucks because we’re probably not going to win with the fastest car,’ ” Hamlin said. “It was fun passing all those cars. It really was.”

STAGE 1 WINNER: Joey Logano

STAGE 2 WINNER: Denny Hamlin

Race results and point standings

WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: Kyle Busch led a race-high 66 laps but was forced to pit with 53 laps to go after making contact with the wall. He bounced back to finish 10th. Busch has finished in the top 10 in all seven races … Erik Jones claimed his second top five of the year after he spun on Lap 15 … Clint Bowyer earned his second top five and best finish of the year … Daniel Suarez earned his first top five through seven races with Stewart-Haas Racing … Jimmie Johnson claimed his first top five of the season and his first since the 2018 Coca-Cola 600.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Team Penske. The cars of Brad Keselowski (mechanical), Joey Logano (pit penalty, hood problems) and Ryan Blaney (overheating) all finished outside the top 15Kyle Larson finished 39th after he wrecked in Stage 2

NOTABLE: Jimmie Johnson led 60 laps, topping his total laps led in for the 2018 season (40 laps) … Joe Gibbs Racing has placed three cars in the top 10 in every race this season and at least one driver in the top five.

WHAT’S NEXT: Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway at 2 p.m. ET on April 7 on FS1

Daniel Hemric fastest in final practice; Kevin Harvick second

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Daniel Hemric turned the fastest lap Friday in the final Cup practice at Kansas Speedway, turning a 177.830 mph lap in his No. 8 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing.

Kevin Harvick was second followed by Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski (who paced the first practice) and Ryan Blaney.

Hemric has yet to announce a ride for 2020 after RCR announced last month that the rookie would be replaced by Tyler Reddick next season.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Daniel Suarez and Aric Almirola rounded out the top 10.

Here are the rankings speeds of the other playoff drivers: Denny Hamlin 12th; Alex Bowman 15th; Joey Logano 16th; Clint Bowyer 19th; Chase Elliott 20th; and William Byron 22nd.

Click here to see where things stand in the playoffs standings entering Sunday’s second-round cutoff race at Kansas.

Click here for speeds from the final practice at Kansas.

Click here for the speeds during the first Cup practice of the weekend at Kansas.

Ryan Preece praises team for its work after hauler fire

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Ryan Preece praised his team for converting teammate Chris Buescher’s backup car into Preece’s primary car Friday after the hauler carrying Preece’s cars and equipment caught fire this week en route to Kansas Speedway.

“I know some of the guys haven’t had much sleep, very proud of them,” Preece said.

The team’s hauler pulled over near New Columbia, Illinois, on Thursday after a fire in the rear axle area that spread to the hauler. A team spokesperson told NBC Sports that crew chief Eddie Pardue and a couple of team members flew there to take what could be salvaged before driving to Kansas City.

The team spokesperson said that the lockers and uniforms in the hauler were heavily damaged. Both cars had damage with the backup car suffering smoke damage.

NASCAR allowed JTG Daugherty Racing to enter the garage at 8 a.m. ET Friday — five hours before the garage was scheduled to open — and allowed members from both JTG Daugherty teams to work on the car. Preece said he was there with the team when it arrived and worked on the interior as the crew converted the car.

“We’re in it as a team,” Preece said. “I wasn’t going to show up later in the afternoon. I wanted them to know that I was right there with them. I wanted to help in every way I could.”

Preece said his car was loose in the first practice session Friday at Kansas Speedway. He was 32nd on the speed chart in that session, making it on track about 10 minutes after practice began.

Brad Keselowski fastest in first practice at Kansas; Kyle Busch makes big save

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Brad Keselowski turned the fastest lap with a minute remaining in Friday afternoon’s first Cup practice at Kansas Speedway.

The 176.499-mph lap by the No. 2 Ford of Team Penske nipped a 176.389 mph lap by the No. 10 Ford of Aric Almirola.

Daniel Suarez was third, followed by Denny Hamlin and Ryan Blaney. Kurt Busch, Paul Menard, Austin Dillon, Kevin Harvick and Daniel Hemric rounded out the top 10.

Here’s how other playoff drivers fared during the practice:

Kyle Larson 11th; Joey Logano 13th; Clint Bowyer 15th; William Byron 20th; Alex Bowman 21st; Kyle Busch (who had an impressive save; video below) 22nd; Chase Elliott 23rd.

Click here to see where things stand in the playoffs standings entering Sunday’s second-round cutoff race at Kansas.

Click here for the speeds during the first Cup practice of the weekend at Kansas.

Gray Gaulding out Friday after suspected allergic reaction

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A Stewart-Haas Racing plane made an unscheduled stop in St. Louis on Friday after Gray Gaulding had a suspected allergic reaction.

SS Green Light Racing confirmed Gaulding had an issue en route to Kansas City. A Stewart-Haas Racing spokesperson confirmed that its plane made the unscheduled stop, and that emergency personnel came on board after the plane landed. Gaulding remained in St. Louis while the plane continued to Kansas City.

SS Green Light Racing stated that after arriving at the track, Gaulding went to the infield care center and was not cleared to drive Friday. Gaulding will be re-evaluated Saturday. J.J. Yeley drove the car for Gaulding in practice Friday.