Denny Hamlin gets his third win of 2019 at Pocono

Nick Bromberg

It was a little more dramatic than Denny Hamlin was anticipating.

Hamlin was hoping to cruise to the end of Sunday’s race at Pocono. But the field had other ideas. Two cautions inside of the final scheduled 10 laps of the race meant Hamlin had to hold teammates Erik Jones and Martin Truex Jr. off on restarts to get his third victory of the season.

Hamlin passed both Jones and Truex with 20 laps to go after he was running third. He pulled away from his teammates and looked certain to cruise to victory. If not for those pesky cautions. Those made him wonder if he had enough gas.

“I was in fuel-save mode and still trying to get around those guys,” Hamlin said after the race. “Once I got around them then I really went into conservation mode instead of stretching the lead out.”

The first came with fewer than eight laps to go when Josh Bilicki’s car stopped on the back stretch. The next came on the ensuing restart when Kurt Busch hit the wall off turn 1 and then got sideways and collected Michael McDowell.

That second caution set up a two-lap shootout for the win. And Hamlin wasn’t seriously challenged.

He’s flown under the radar relative to his JGR teammates Kyle Busch and Truex who have each won four races this season. But Hamlin has been a top-10 driver in the points standings and is only playing third fiddle because of his teammates’ success.

Hamlin started the season with a Daytona 500 win and got his second win of the season at Texas. Sunday’s win is his 13th top-10 finish of the season, which puts him in a tie for third in the series behind Joey Logano and Busch.

Sunday’s race also included traction compound in the secondary and tertiary grooves at Pocono. Hamlin said that sticky stuff was the key to his race-winning pass. It was added for this race after Busch won a snoozer earlier this year.

“Thank Pocono for the PJ1. Obviously it could be hedged a little bit lower but they at least gave us a second lane to race in that we hadn’t had before,” Hamlin said.

Denny Hamlin heads down the front straight during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, N.H., Sunday, July 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
Denny Hamlin has three wins in 2019. (Via AP)

Full results

1. Denny Hamlin

2. Erik Jones

3. Martin Truex Jr.

4. William Byron

5. Kyle Larson

6. Kevin Harvick

7. Daniel Hemric

8. Brad Keselowski

9. Kyle Busch

10. Ryan Blaney

11. Clint Bowyer

12. Aric Almirola

13. Joey Logano

14. Ryan Newman

15. Jimmie Johnson

16. Chris Buescher

17. Matt DiBenedetto

18. Paul Menard

19. Austin Dillon

20. Alex Bowman

21. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

22. Bubba Wallace

23. Matt Tiffty

24. Daniel Suarez

25. Michael McDowell

26. Corey LaJoie

27. Kurt Busch

28. Landon Cassill

29. Ty Dillon

30. Ross Chastain

31. Quin Houff

32. Reed Sorenson

33. BJ McLeod

34. Austin Theriault

35. Josh Bilicki

36. David Ragan

37. Ryan Preece

38. Chase Elliott

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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports

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