Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin took the checkered flag in the No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry Saturday night in the Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway, ahead of runner-up Brad Keselowski and JGR teammate Kyle Busch in third. Hamlin has won the last two races in the Sprint Cup Series, having also won the season finale last year at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The wins come after Hamlin missed four races early last season due to a back injury.
“Denny is on a mission, man,” said Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&Ms Toyota, after the race. “I think he lost too much time last year sitting on the sidelines, so he's got some wins to make up for. He won last year the last race of the year at Homestead, was quickest in practice by doing what he needed to do to get a quick lap in practice for sitting on the pole for this race tonight, then he wins tonight. He's on fire right now.”
“I don't know if my attitude's different,” said Hamlin. “Attitude changed after California, for sure. You know, you're always excited about starting the season, but for me it was more about really starting the season strong, to just totally forget about 2013. But obviously this is huge motivation and confidence that we can do a lot of great things when all the pieces fall right for us.”
The third JGR driver, Matt Kenseth in the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota, was involved in a second-segment wreck that took out nearly half the field, including Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch. Kenseth finished 10th in the non-points race.
Busch tried unsuccessfully to wreck, much like he did when he won the race back in 2012. Media members wondered how Busch managed to save his car once again.
“Take my quotes from 2012 and cut, copy, paste,” quipped Busch. “Just kidding. I have no idea (how I saved it). I don't really know how it all started. I was up top following Logano, or he was coming up in front of me. I kind of tried to go back low and get a run off the bottom of the track to pass him and I got clipped and instantly spun out. Just sort of started doing the same stuff I did then. Lot of brake, lot of gas, downshifting, everything in between. It always takes about two times to get it kind of squared back up. Once I got going on the apron, I didn't even know where straight was on the steering wheel. I was floating my hands, kind of letting the thing find center by itself. Sometimes you got to let the car do its own job, too.”
The Sprint Cup Series begins points racing next Sunday, February 23rd, with the Daytona 500. Keep up with the action at joegibbsracing.com.
Quotes in this piece provided by NASCAR.
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