May 8th, 2010
DARLINGTON, S.C. — A field with fresh rubber and a hungry teammate couldn’t keep Denny Hamlin from capturing Friday night’s NASCAR Nationwide Series Royal Purple 200 at Darlington Raceway.
When caution waved for a faltering Justin Allgaier with 24 circuits to go in the 147-lap contest, Hamlin and his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch stayed on track while the rest of the field pitted for tires.
Though history would suggest that his pursuers would have the advantage with fresh tires on such an abrasive track, Hamlin was never challenged despite two more cautions in the races final 16 laps and drove his No. 20 Z-Line Designs/Operation Helmet Toyota Camry to the finish .625-second ahead of Busch for his first win of 2010.
Hamlin dominated the 200-mile affair, leading four times for 111 laps from the pole — his third in five races at the “Lady In Black” — to earn his 10th-career Nationwide Series victory and his third at the 1.33-mile in just five races.
“This was a great race car. Congratulations to Kevin Kidd (crew chief); this is his first win at Joe Gibbs Racing, taking over for Dave Rogers,” Hamlin said. “When you have a car that drives as good as it did today, it makes your job a whole lot easier.”
Busch was disappointed with his runner-up finish despite earning a one-two sweep for Joe Gibbs Racing.
“I think our car was just a little bit better than theirs. You just can’t pass at this race track,” Busch said. “You saw it with the guys who came down pit road and put on tires — two tires, four tires, it didn’t matter; they couldn’t get up there and challenge us. Our cars were good, but they weren’t that good to hold off four tires that way.”
Jamie McMurray, who challenged Busch briefly for second on the final restart, finished third. Kasey Kahne and Jason Leffler completed the top five finishers in a race that saw nine lead changes among seven drivers and nine cautions for 42 laps.
Series point leader Brad Keselowski finished seventh and saw his margin shaved to four markers over Busch.