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Hamlin's gamble pays off at New Hampshire

September 24, 2012, Seth Livingstone, Special to NASCAR.COM, NASCAR.com



Hamlin's gamble pays off at New Hampshire

LOUDON, N.H. -- As strong as Denny Hamlin's Toyota was Sunday, it seemed there wasn't much other than bad luck that could have prevented him from winning the Sylvania 300.

As it turned out, even Lady Luck was smiling when the No. 11 needed her.

Hamlin, who qualified 32nd, had powered his way to the lead when crew chief Darian Grubb took a chance on Lap 130, electing to leave Hamlin on the track when a caution flew for debris. At the time, Hamlin had about 20 laps on his tires and plenty of gas.

UPS... Game Changing Moments

But it was a game-changing moment when the caution came out next on Lap 179. By then, Hamlin was beginning to run low on fuel and in danger of going off pit cycle from other contending drivers.

"Things worked out, obviously," Hamlin said. "Those are the things that can keep you out of victory lane

"I actually thought that maybe we should take two tires, but Darian assured me that we were going to run just fine as soon as we went back [to] green. And I think those were some of the fastest laps we ran all day, on scuff tires."

Grubb said his decision not to pit was about sticking to the plan and sizing up the situation on the track.

"Looking at the fuel windows, if we pitted then we knew be at least some cars would stay out," he said. "[And] with as many cars as we had one lap down that could do a wave-around, that was probably going to give about 12 people their lap back.

"Knowing how fast Denny's care was and how fast we were on old tires in practice, I knew, at that point, there was no reason to change our strategy. I was going to stick to the laps we [had planned] to pit on."

As it turned out, Hamlin led 112 of the race's final 116 laps, helping team owner Joe Gibbs record his 100th Sprint Cup victory.