Monday, February 15, 2016

Denny Hamlin wins his third Sprint Unlimited

Denny Hamlin was 15/1 to win Saturday.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Joe Gibbs Racing opened a new season exactly where it left off last year: On top of the podium.

Denny Hamlin won the Sprint Unlimited — the kickoff to Speedweeks — on Saturday night to give JGR its third consecutive win in the exhibition race. JGR drivers have actually won the Unlimited in four of the last five years, and Hamlin has three victories since 2006.

Hamlin overcame early damage to his Toyota to score his first victory with new crew chief Mike Wheeler, who was a longtime engineer for the No. 11 team before his promotion. Wheeler gambled on fuel strategy, a luxury he had because the results of the race have no meaning, and spent most of the closing laps encouraging Hamlin to save fuel.

"I don't know if he was poised. He was poised on the radio," Hamlin said about the crew chief. "We've got such a young team, crew chief, engineers, they all look like they're a bunch of high school kids."

Winning this exhibition race doesn't always translate into Daytona 500 success. The last driver to win the opening race and the 500 was Dale Jarrett in 2000.

Joey Logano, last year's Daytona 500 winner, finished second in a Ford and was followed by Paul Menard, Kyle Larson and Casey Mears, all in Chevrolets.

Read More here.....AP

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