On a warm night in Atlanta, Denny Hamlin was helped by another racer’s flat tire, the work of his own pit crew and was able to drive away with his second consecutive win and fourth overall his season in NASCAR’s Sprint Car series.
Late in the race, Hamlin was overtaken by Martin Truex Jr. and Jeff Gordon. However, Jamie McMurray’s car blew a tire with just six laps remaining and the race came down to who could leave pit road the quickest after taking on four tires and some fuel. Hamlin’s crew was able to get his tires changed and put some fuel into his tank quick enough to send him off pit road with an half a car lead.
At the restart, Truex’s tires spun and he bottled up all the cars behind him, which gave Gordon the opportunity to slip past him and try to chase down Hamlin. Gordon was close to doing that and reached Hamlin’s rear quarter panel, but was not able to pass him before the finish line. Brad Keselowski was able to out race other drivers to the finish and took third place.
The second place finish by Gordon almost assures that he will have to win the race next week at Richmond to qualify for the Cup Chase as a wildcard entrant. Gordon said after the race that he might be getting too soft as he gets older. He said he should have gone harder it the third turn and gotten further into Hamlin’s quarter panel to try to make a pass coming off the final turn, but that did not work out and he now has to worry about Richmond.