Hamlin overcomes 2 pit penalties at Texas for 2nd win of ’19

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FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Denny Hamlin had such a fast car at Texas that he was able to win even after two penalties on pit road and some other issues during green flag conditions.

While Hamlin was reviewing all that happened, crew chief Chris Gabehart interrupted — “I think you passed 327 cars by my count, but maybe not,” he said.

Hamlin, who once missed the entry to pit road and also ran out fuel during the race, did do a lot of passing to get to Victory Lane on Sunday. He led the final 12 laps and 45 overall to overcome those miscues and the penalties — one when he exited pit road too fast early in the day and another for a debatable tire violation against his team during a stop just past the halfway point.

“I was just beating my head against the steering wheel thinking, ‘Man, we’re going to finish bad with a really fast race car,’” Hamlin said. “We just kept digging and Chris kept doing a good job encouraging us we had a long way to go. We kept passing cars and passing cars.”

Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota finished more than 2.7 seconds ahead of Clint Bowyer . The 334-lap race at the 1 1/2-mile track, with only three cautions outside the two stage stoppages, featured 27 lead changes among 13 drivers.

It was the 33rd career victory for Hamlin. He won the season-opening Daytona 500 after he went winless last year to end a streak of 12 consecutive seasons getting into Victory Lane.

His third win at Texas was his first since sweeping both races at the track in 2010.

Gibbs drivers have won four of the seven races this season, and Team Penske won the other three.

All four Stewart-Haas Racing finished in the top eight, led by Bower and Daniel Saurez finishing third. Aric Almirola and Kevin Harvick were seventh and eighth.

Erik Jones, another Gibbs driver, finished fourth and polesitter Jimmie Johnson was fifth, just ahead of his Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron. Kurt Busch was ninth and JGR driver Kyle Busch finished 10th despite leading a race-high 66 laps in his attempt for a tripleheader weekend sweep.

Kyle Busch led six times, and was still in front with 59 laps to go when his No. 18 Toyota drifted high going into Turn 2.

“It just busted loose on me, and I had to catch it and make sure we didn’t crash,” he said.

While he avoided contact then, he slipped back to fourth. When trying to get back in front a few laps later, he brushed the outside wall and fell a lap behind after having to go to pit road.

For the second time in a month, he missed out on a tripleheader sweep following Xfinity and Truck Series races in the same weekend. He completed such sweeps twice at Bristol, in 2010 and 2017.

It was the third time at Texas that Kyle Busch won the Xfinity and Trucks races before coming up short in the weekend-ending Cup race. That also happened to him at his home track in Las Vegas four weeks earlier.