|Denny Hamlin celebrates in Victory Lane at Phoenix
Photo – Jerry Markland/Getty Images
Redemption 2012, a campaign for Denny Hamlin to get back in a winning way this season has begun today at Phoenix.
Denny Hamlin wins the Subway Fresh Fit 500k at Phoenix, and the first fuel-mileage finish of the season after numerous fuel-mileage finishes in the 2011 season.
The race started out with a quick pass by Tony Stewart around pole sitter Mark Martin. Then Clint Bowyer had troubles early when he cut down a tire and got into the wall causing a little damage. A few laps later Kasey Kahne had troubles early when he hit pretty hard into the front-stretch wall and broke the control arm of his car, causing him to go behind the wall and end his chances of winning the race. Kahne won at this track last November, the first race on the new Phoenix configuration.
About ten laps later, Bowyer cut down his second right front tire sending his car into the wall again but the race remained under the green flag. Then Casey Mears sailed into turn one, got loose and spun up into the wall destroying the rear end of his GEICO Ford.
The only multiple car wreck of the day occurred on the front–stretch when Jamie McMurray while battling Paul Menard got into his rear end causing Menard’s car to spin and hit the inside wall. Also involved in this wreck was A.J Allmendinger who ran into the wall in turn 4.
Only a few laps after that incident, Jamie McMurray’s engine expired and he was done for the day. After more drivers blew up, and with 65 laps to go, David Reutimann also blew up causing a caution.
|Tony Stewart’s #14 Home Depot Chevy
Photo – Getty Images
Under this caution Tony Stewart shut off his car to save some gas, but with the EFI engine, it’s much harder to restart the car after shutting off the motor. Stewart was unable to restart his car which caused him time on pit road before he would continue.
The final caution of the day came with about 50 laps to go when Ryan Newman and Carl Edwards, battling along the back-stretch, made contact in turn 3 causing Ryan Newman to spin up track and make contact with the outer-wall.
Now the fuel-mileage race starts as multiple drivers are very close on fuel. First fuel victim was Kevin Harvick who was quickly closing in on Denny Hamlin when he ran out of fuel with two laps to go. Now Hamlin who has had bad luck with fuel mileage in the past, needs just one more lap – and he gets it. Denny Hamlin came off turn 4 to win at Phoenix, his first win since Michigan in June 2011.
After the race Hamlin said on his radio,“Man it feels good to be competitive again! Thank you so much!!!” – referring to his re-energized crew for 2012.
This was a solid follow up race to the everlasting Daytona 500 as Hamlin and his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates will look to capitalize on the first celebration of 2012 by going out and winning many more races this season.