Two-for-Two: Hamlin Wins BUBBA burger 250
Hamlin Follows Thursday Victory with Dominant Performance
After a late-race caution flag, Hamlin held off a hard charging Paul Menard to pick up his third career Nationwide Series win at Richmond. Justin Allgaier edged Emporia’s Elliott Sadler for third, while defending race winner Brad Keselowski rounded out the top five.
With only two cautions slowing the race prior to the final lap, Hamlin set a race record speed of 108.410 mph. This eclipsed the old record of 104.928 mph set by Dale Jarrett in 1995.
Hamlin also gave his crew chief Adam Stevens his first career win.
“I’m just so proud of my team," said Hamlin, who also win his Short Track Showdown on Thursday night at America's Premier Short Track. "Everyone has been so supportive. We had a plan to try to make it to the end without stopping. It’s hard to tell a driver to slow down. We would have made it. It feels so good to win here at Richmond. I think this win can help us tomorrow. We’ll see how it all turns out.”
Menard was the only challenge Hamlin faced on the final lap, but when Derrike Cope spun in Turn 3, the yellow flag waved moments after the white flag had already been shown, ending the race under caution.
“We were so close. We’re disappointed with second. Denny got a better restart than me. The last restart was wild. I couldn’t keep up with him once we got to 4th gear. I dive-bombed into Turn 1 on the last lap and I might have had him, but then the yellow came out.”
Allgaier held onto his series points lead among the drivers competing for the Nationwide Series title.
“We had a great night. The car wasn’t exactly right. It’s a solid top-5 finish. This series is so awesome. It was a long night behind the wheel because we had hardly any cautions. The car was really good right off the truck.”
After winnnig the Coors Light Pole Award earlier in the day, pole-sitter Carl Edwards had a premonition about the BUBBA Burger 250 following NBC12 Pole Qualifying.
“I’ll be watching my mirror because I know Denny (Hamlin) will be coming,” Edwards said.
It took Hamlin, who started 11th, all of 44 laps to snatch the lead from Edwards. By Lap 68, Hamlin had a three second lead.
The first 123 laps were run under green flag conditions before Kelly Bires tangled with Jason Leffler going through Turn 3. Bires’ machine backed into the Turn 4 wall.
With 50 laps remaining, the top-5 running order was Hamlin, Aric Almirola, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Menard and Kenny Wallace.
On Lap 216, Menard hit pit road for his second pit stop of the race. On the next lap, Edwards suffered a disastrous pit stop, losing 4 more laps after a drive though penalty for service outside his pit box.
Things got very interesting around Lap 225, when it became evident that the leaders were going to try to make it to the end without stopping for fuel. On Lap 242, Stenhouse Jr. ran out of fuel and missed the entrance to pit road. When his car stopped on the back straight, the yellow flag came out. While the field was closing up behind the pace car, Almirola ran out of fuel as well.
With no pressure to take further risks on fuel, Hamlin also ducked into the pits for fuel and tires and hold off Menard.