|04/23/12 10:14PM||Denny Hamlin, Greg Biffle, NASCAR, Ryan Newman, Sprint Cup, Tony Stewart|
Hamlin gets another victory
No. 11 becomes second multiple-race winner for Coca-Cola family
By Andrew Shain, Special to NASCAR.COM
April 23, 2012 4:43 PM, EDT
Richmond is looking good for the red-and-white fighters, with six drivers among the top 15 in average finish at the race track during the past seven years.
Kansas finish: First
Season standings: Fifth
Hamlin is on a hot streak during the past four weeks, with an average finish of 7.5. After qualifying fourth, he spent much of Sunday in the top 5. He tracked down Truex and passed him as the sun crept out after a cloudy day. Hamlin won after Truex nearly passed him twice in the final laps. He has finished no worse than 16th in his past six races in Kansas. Hamlin climbed a notch in the standings and looks to gain more at Richmond, where he's averaged a Sprint Cup Series-best sixth place during the past seven years.
What he said: "Great day for our race team. The pit crew did amazing there on that green-flag pit stop. [Crew chief] Darian [Grubb] made a great call to bring me in one lap early and just a great team effort today. This has been a great weekend, and we just had a solid car all week. ... Once I got to the lead, I felt like I got a little bit complacent mainly on corner entry, just being careful. But what got me the lead was driving hard, and so I needed to get back to that."
Kansas finish: Fifth
Season standings: First
Biffle is having a special season. He grabbed fifth place despite having his car lose grip during the race. After finishing 36th in his first appearance at Kansas, Biffle never has come home worse than 12th in the past 11 races -- including a pair of wins. He has finished 13th or better in every race this season and kept the points lead he's held since March 11.
What he said: "It was a tough day. We were back and forth all day and were just off a little bit. When the track had a lot of grip, the car was unbelievable. It fired off there and I thought, 'This is going to be a lot of fun,' and then when the track started getting slick, she started going away a little bit. ... It feels good to be disappointed with a fifth-place finish. We just wanted to run better."
Kansas finish: 13th
Season standings: Eighth
Stewart turned a 23rd-place qualifying run and an ill-handling car into 13th-place finish -- his fifth straight in the top 15 at Kansas. He charged through the field while making adjustments in the pits and reached 11th before a problem on a tire change on the last stop. Stewart slipped a spot in the points standings, but he could gain momentum in Richmond, where he has the series' fourth-best average finish during the past decade.
What he said: "The start of the race had a similar feel to what we had at Texas last week, which wasn't very good. Today went a lot better. ... Hopefully, we can go back and try to run through a lot of this stuff and see what the direction is of what it's liking and disliking. Last week, it seemed like the further into the race we went, the further off-balance we got. This week, we came and got better as we went."
Kansas finish: 14th
Season standings: 19th
A loose car left McMurray to start a season-worst 36th, but his Chevy improved in practice and as soon as the race started, he moved up through the pack quickly. He ended up with his fourth top-15 finish of the season at the track closest to his Missouri hometown. His second consecutive 14th-place finish landed him back inside the top-20 in the points standings.
What he said: "We had a bad starting position and managed to make up a lot of ground. We felt we might have a top-10 car, but we ran out of time today."
Kansas finish: 14th
Season standings: 12th
Logano qualified third but started in the back of the field after an engine change. He had a fast ride and moved up 15 spots in the first 10 laps. But Logano's car became tight, and he lost more spots on old tires. He fell a lap down but regained it in 22nd place. Logano grabbed eight more spots in the final 79 laps for his best finish in his past six races. He rose a place in the standings and is six points outside the Chase.
What he said: "This was just a long, long weekend for the Home Depot team. We were fighting from behind from the very beginning when we had an engine let go before we ever even got one lap of practice in on Friday. We were an hour-and-a-half behind everyone else after that all weekend long. ... Thankfully, we had a great qualifying lap that really brought our spirits up and gave us a really good pit position. We knew we had a fast car after that. The biggest thing we need to do is figure out how to start these races better."
Kansas finish: 20th
Season standings: 10th
Newman is looking for a little good luck. A week after his efforts were spoiled by a poor-handling car, he was hovering around the top 15 with 70 laps to go when he pitted with a suspected flat tire. He exited a lap down, ending his chances for the type of finish that has put him in the running for the Chase this year. He dropped a spot in the standings. His fortunes could improve in Richmond, where he has averaged a circuit-best fifth during the past seven years.
What he said: "I told the guys I was sorry after the race. I don't know what the deal was with that tire, but there was something wrong. The car got way, way tight and started chattering really bad right after we restarted the race. I thought we had a right-front issue, so I brought the car in. ... We had a fast race car, and I think we would have had a top-10 finish if we wouldn't have had that problem."
Kansas finish: 22nd
Season standings: 17th
Burton's recent struggles continued Sunday with his fourth-consecutive finish of 22nd or worse. His season stats suggest that he is doing well in races. Burton is 12th in average-running position and 14th in running on the lead lap. But his latest finish cost him another spot in the standings. Richmond could be a slump-breaker. Burton has the series' second-best average finish in the past five years.
What he tweeted: "I would like to apologize to all of our fans. I know it's hard to watch. We will improve."
Kansas finish: 35th
Season standings: 27th
Labonte thought he could have his best finish since the beginning of the season, but he reported a vibration early in the race. His crew tried to work on various solutions. Labonte was around the top 20 when his engine failed on lap 132. He has finished 26th or worse in five of the past six races. Labonte dropped two spots in the standings.
What he said: "We feel like if it wasn't for those problems, we would have had a top-15 day. They told me we were running really good lap times -- around the top 10. I just don't know why it vibrated so badly. It was getting worse, and we had to pit under green, which cost us a couple laps. And then we had the engine deal that ultimately ended our day."