Hamlin Wins Third Sprint Unlimited Title

The Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway may have been a non-points event but Joe Gibbs Racing continued their dominance. This time it was the No. 11 FedEx Toyota driven by Denny Hamlin that captured the victory, which marks his third win in the preseason event. After starting 15th on the grid, he led 39 of 79 laps on the 2.5-mile track, the most by any driver in the race that extended into overtime.

This marked the first career Sprint Unlimited win for crew chief Mike Wheeler atop the pit box as a rookie. “I’m so happy for (Mike Wheeler) to start one-for-one with a good win at Daytona.” Hamlin said. “This win couldn’t be possible without my teammates. Matt (Kenseth) sacrificed so much pushing me at the right time. Total team effort just like Kyle’s (Busch) championship. We win as a team and this was a Joe Gibbs Racing win.”

Although the field of 25 drivers battled loose race cars all night, it wasn’t until the final laps of the race where things started to get intense. With three laps to go, caution came out, which would lead to NASCAR’s version of overtime. Hamlin and the No. 22 of Joey Logano were racing in a dead heat before the yellow came out again. Although the field had already crossed the ‘overtime’ line, before the final ‘big one. Hamlin was then able to coast to the checkers with Logano finishing second.

Although Logano had to settle for runner up, he was still pleased with his performance in the 79-lap race. “I had a great Shell Pennzoil Ford Fusion and we kept working our way up from the back and it was hard for us to get that lead,” Logano said. “We were so close, right next to the 11 when they started crashing there. It’s a good start for the weekend and I’m proud of what we did.”

Paul Menard took home a third-place finish for Richard Childress Racing. The driver of the No. 27 Peak Antifreeze/Menards Chevrolet struggled with speed but was pleased with the way his car drafted. “It was a lot of fun,” Menard said. “I picked some wrong lanes and some right lanes, and in the end, the middle worked pretty well. It was a wild race."

Although Jimmie Johnson started on the pole, the No. 48 team’s luck didn’t continue as Johnson was involved in a crash at lap 43. “I could see the hole closing up. I was trying to get out of it and I avoided crashing the two guys that closed the door on me but I got hit from behind and that’s what sent me down through the infield,” he explained. “I was just trying hard. I was trying to see what I could get away with and what I couldn’t by being aggressive.”

Although the driver of the Lowes’ Chevrolet wrecked, he still believes he and his team learned a lot for next week’s Daytona 500. “This car isn’t like the other car,” he said. “But being in the car and trying to set up passes and getting onto pit road; all those things were really helpful.”

Results
  1. Denny Hamlin
  2. Joey Logano
  3. Paul Menard
  4. Kyle Larson
  5. Casey Mears
  6. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  7. Kurt Busch
  8. Austin Dillon
  9. Brad Keselowski
  10. Greg Biffle

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will now prepare for the Daytona 500 with qualifying tomorrow at 1 PM ET on FOX, MRN and Sirius XM.
Katie Williams

Coming off the ranch, I didn’t have a motorsports background but my passion was and still is very strong. My first taste of NASCAR came at the age of seven while waiting for music videos to come on the old TNN network. As I grew up, I pursued other interest but eventually rediscovered cars going left when I found the SPEED channel during the 2011-2012 offseason.

I didn’t decide I wanted to pursue a career in NASCAR until the summer of 2012. I’m not a wrench head or strong enough for a pit crew so media was the next best thing. At the beginning of 2013, I started going to races and making connections within the sport. I also studied Motorsports Management at Sports Management Worldwide. Although I love what happens on the track, I’ve always been interested in what goes on behind the scenes and I’ve gotten to know many people throughout the radio, TV and digital media world.

While I’m a long time writer, 2015 was my first year actually covering the sport with www.nascarfemale.com . I also became a media correspondent for Raceline. I’ve been able to help the TV show gain recognition on social media. My current goal is to acquire more experience in covering NASCAR and move up the media ladder. Outside of motorsports, I have been an equine-sports statistician for 16 years.

I currently reside in Gillette, WY where I’m still involved with horses. I enjoy riding them, rodeo, swimming, traveling and meeting people.

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