|Credit: Chris Graythen, Getty Images for NASCAR|
Hamlin briefly described his race today in the media center: "We kind of hung around in the top 5 all day and at the end we just kind of made our charge. There were some things that had to happen during the last run for it to really work out for us and those things happened. We got our car a little better and it looked like the No. 56 struggled a little bit more than what he had previously. So I knew with the second to last run when we were able to maintain with them and even gain on them right before we pitted, we were going to have a chance - it was going to be a close battle at the end; when we came out from that green flag pit stop and we were side by side, I knew that was pretty much the race for the win. So when he had cleared me, I thought it was over, but I just kind of got in a rhythm there, ad he continued to fight with his car ad we were able to make the pass." As the saying goes ... the rest is history.
Martin Truex Jr., who had the strongest car throughout the day, led for a total of 173 laps of the 267-lap race and finished a strong second. He was definitely disappointed about finishing in this position especially after being the class of the field for most of the day. When asked about what he thought affected the handling of his car, he had this to say: "I don't think it was the sun. We put that last set of tires on and it wasn't anything like it had been all day long - just bad, bad loose for the first 20 laps of that run. Just lost the lead and once you lose the lead, it's hard to get it back. I was a little better than he was at the end, but when he's running where you are, it's just about impossible to pass him. Just have to thank everyone at MWR, everyone at Toyota and everyone on this NAPA team - Chad Johnston is doing a phenomenal job. I know we're going to get one, we just hate giving them away like that."
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe's Chevrolet, had a strong car throughout the day; however, he was only able to maintain his position of running third as the laps wound down for the STP 400. "We had a solid race car all day long - we were just off a bit to the No. 56 at times. Just lacked a little bit of handling to get up there and race for the win. We were probably a second or third place car all day, and ran third. We got what we could and will go home and work on it." He commented about looking forward to racing in Richmond next week and said he they take what his race team has learned from previous races there to possibly find their way into victory lane.
Rounding out the top ten were Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle, Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch.
- 3 cautions for a total of 18 laps: 15 spin in Turn 4; debris on the backstretch; debris in Turns 3 and 4
- 14 lead changes with a 9 different race leaders: Truex Jr. (173), Allmendinger (44), Hamlin (32), Hornish Jr. (7), Montoya (4), Kenseth (2), Johnson (2), Keselowski (2) and Edwards (1)
- 7 infractions during the race: No. 49 (entering pit road too fast), No. 15 (pitting before pit road is open), No. 22 (pitting before pit road is open twice and too many crew members in the pit service area), No. 83 (safety violation) and No. 24 (safety violation)
- DNF due to engine problems : Bowyer, Blaney, Stremme and Wise
Next up, the Cup series will be heading to Richmond for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 400 on April 28. It is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET to be broadcast on FOX.
Unique Hiram is an Associate Editor/Contributing Writer for Skirts and Scuffs. Additionally, she is also the author of "Fast Lane Poetry" which was published April 2011. Unique can be contacted via email or through Twitter.