Joe Gibbs Review: Crown Royal Presents The Matthew and Daniel Hansen 400

Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images for NASCAR
Joe Gibbs Racing swept the weekend at Richmond, ending with a 1-2 finish in the Matthew and Daniel Hansen 400. All three drivers successfully crossed the finish line in the top-12, which began to look doubtful in the second half of the race, but Gibbs proved to have the strongest cars even when wrecked.

Joey Logano, #20 Home Depot Toyota (Started: 9, Finished: 11)

Logano bounced in and out of the top-10 in the early laps of the race, but fell out by Lap 33. He fell back to 18th and complained of his car being too tight in the center. Two debris cautions and an altercation between Ryan Newman (#39 U.S. Army Chevrolet) and Juan Pablo Montoya (#42 Target Chevrolet) allowed the Home Depot pit crew to make adjustments.

The fourth caution of the night found Logano headed for the wall after Jimmie Johnson (#48 Lowe's Chevrolet) slipped onto the apron and jetted up the track into Logano's car. The left-rear of the #20 was heavily damaged. According to Joe Gibbs Racing's tweets, the damage would lead to longer pit stops as the fuel hole was disfigured.

Excitement found Logano again when the Big One hit. As cars spun across the track, Logano navigated the carnage. Minor damage, again on the left side, didn't hurt the performance of the car. Logano made his way forward to a second-half high of 11th position. He finished just outside of the top-10 for his second best finish this season.

Logano is up to 21st in point standings (+3).

Denny Hamlin, #11 FedEx Freight Toyota (Started: 12, Finished: 2)

Hamlin broke into the top-10 by Lap 8 and never left again. He was in the top-five by Lap 56 and led his first lap of the night at Lap 74. The FedEx Toyota went four-wide just four laps later. Bobby Labonte (#47 Kingsford Toyota) tapped Hamlin's car, but the #11 stayed steady and pulled ahead with little damage.

On Lap 84, Hamlin put his main competitor in 2010, Jimmie Johnson, down a lap before heading to pit road to start the cycle of green flag stops. After the field cycled through, Hamlin settled into fourth position. Crew chief Mike Ford lectured the FedEx pit crew for their 16+ second stop.

When the caution came out and Hamlin came back in, the pit stop was nearly three seconds shorter. Hamlin restarted behind teammate Kyle Busch (#18 Pretzel M&M's Toyota).

By Lap 135, Hamlin was over two seconds in front of third place and half a second behind first. As Busch came into lap traffic, Hamlin began to close in on his teammate. They battled for first for three laps until Hamlin was blocked by lap car Andy Lally (#71 Interstate Moving Services Ford Fusion).

After the second caution, Hamlin began to slip back but a quick third caution proved to be the cure. Hamlin's pit stop was tenths of a second shorter than Busch's and he came off pit road with the lead. The front row went three wide on the double file restart and Hamlin lost the lead to Martin Truex, Jr. (#56 Napa Auto Parts Toyota).

Two cautions later, it was knee versus knee as Hamlin raced Kasey Kahne (#4 Red Bull Toyota) for second. Hamlin's car proved to be stronger and the #11 pulled ahead. He passed Matt Kenseth (#17 Crown Royal Ford Fusion) to take first yet again.

When teammate Busch began to battle for the lead, Hamlin slipped back into second, knowing it was wiser to save his A-game rather than wreck with over 100 laps to go.

After "The Big One," Hamlin restarted fifth. He made his way back to the front, but could not get enough out of his car to shut down Busch's multi-second lead. Hamlin finished second, his highest finish in the Sprint Cup series this season.

In answer to a post-race interview question on his feelings over finishing second, Hamlin said, "It's my best finish of the year. I'm ecstatic."

Hamlin stayed at 17th in point standings (-0).

Kyle Busch, #18 Pretzel M&M's Toyota (Started: 20, Finished: 1)

Busch was in the top-10 by Lap 33 and in the top-five only 25 laps later. He ran behind teammate and race leader Denny Hamlin on Lap 84 before going for his green flag pit stop. His pit crew was nearly three seconds faster than Hamlin's and Busch was at the front of the field when the stops finally cycled through.

As Busch pulled ahead, he opened a nearly full-second over second place Hamlin. Lap traffic slowed Busch down for a few laps just before halfway, but re-opened the one-second lead after he passed the #71 of Lally.

After the second caution, Busch found himself being chased down by Jeff Gordon (#24 DuPont Chevrolet). At exactly halfway, Busch allowed Gordon to take the lead, but took it back four laps later.

The restart after the third caution found Busch battling Hamlin and Truex for the lead. He briefly nudged ahead but fell back to avoid wrecking with the aggressive #56. He dropped to a second-half low of sixth place after the day's fourth caution.

Lap 287 found Busch nudging teammate Hamlin. Hamlin allowed Busch to pass, and the #18 wasted no time opening a solid lead over his second place teammate.

Busch restarted fourth after "The Big One." A master of the outside lane, Busch flew by his competition with 88 laps to go. He extended his lead to two seconds over Hamlin. At Lap 379, Busch lapped the damaged Home Depot Toyota of teammate Joey Logano. Inside of 10 laps to go, Busch was instructed to save fuel to make sure he made it all the way to Victory Lane. Busch finished first and had most laps lead, giving him the full 48 points possible in one race.

In a post-race interview, Joe Gibb Racing president J.D. Gibbs asked Busch, "Did you save fuel?"

Busch was quick to reply, "I'm not going to answer that."

Busch rose to third in points standings (+3).
Joe Gibbs Review: Crown Royal Presents The Matthew and Daniel Hansen 400 Joe Gibbs Review: Crown Royal Presents The Matthew and Daniel Hansen 400 Reviewed by Génette Wood on Monday, May 02, 2011 Rating: 5