The Pit Stop

July 1, 2007 5:03 PM

Pit strategy wins race for Hamlin.

The first Toyota in NASCAR NEXTEL history had the poll for the Lenox Industrial Tools 300 today in New Hampshire.  Dave Blaney took only his second poll of his career with a lap of 129.437 mph.

“We all just had to step up,” said Jeff Gordon.  “I think so,” said Dale Jr. on getting a top five finish today.

In the first 100 laps of this race only two caution flags got waived.  The first came out on lap 5 for Ward Burton who got a hole in his oil pan. The second one occurred on lap 96 for debris.

One green flag pit stop occurred during this time around lap 70.  Getting caught for speeding penalties were Greg Biffle, David Gilliland, and Joe Nemechek.   Leading laps during this time was Dave Blaney for 31 laps and then Jeff Gordon led the race for around 35 laps.  After pit stops Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the leader of race.

During the next 100 laps one caution for debris came out on lap 122. Dave Blaney and his car was going from bad to worse during this time period. Leading during the second 100-lap session was Dale Jr. until the caution, Jimmy Johnson for around 20, then Kyle Busch who had the lead around 156.  Before his green flag pit stop Carl Edwards was in the lead of the race, but wound with a 47 second pit stop for a dropped jack. The green flag pit stops occurred around lap 193.

The final 100 laps got started off with a Joe Nemechek crash that sent a tire into the air that almost got into the stands.  At lap 210 it was Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Martin Truex Jr. at the front of the field.   By lap 230 Martin was in the lead by around 2.5 seconds.

With 50 laps to go Martin was in the lead by over 3 seconds with Jeff Gordon in second place.  Three more laps go by and a debris caution goes by letting Carl Edwards back on the lead lap.  Leaders pit and Denny Hamlin with his two tires lead cars off pit road.

The green flag dropped and a couple laps went by and the caution came out for the spinning cars of David Stremme and Bobby Labonte.

With 30 laps left Denny Hamlin had a just under half second lead over Martin Truex Jr.  10 laps later and it was down to around a third of a second.  With 13 laps top go a battle between Jeff Gordon and Martin Truex Jr. occurs for second place.  With seven laps to go Gordon finally took over the second place stop.  Gordon got real close to Denny Hamlin on the final corner of the race, but could not pull of the pass for the win.  Crashing in the final corner was Kurt Busch, but was able to get his damaged car pass the start/finish line.

We didn’t have anything for the front three today,” said Mike Ford who is the crew chief for Denny Hamlin.

Denny Hamlin stated that he was driving like a “wuss” for the final few laps.  “Top four car for the most part.”  His win was his first since the second Pocono race last year.

Jeff Gordon stated that the harder he was driving the car the slower it got.

“The last set of tire didn’t agree with me,” said Martin Truex Jr. who finished in third. “I thought we had the car to beat.”

“We ran great all day long,” said Dale Earnhardt Jr. who finished in fourth.

Denny Hamlin slightly closes the lead to Jeff Gordon.  He trails Jeff by 156 points now.  Dale Earnhardt Jr. is still 12th, but a healthy 127 points ahead of Ryan Newman in 13th.

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