Denny Hamlin is now a million-dollar man for the first time in his career.
Hamlin pulled away from Kevin Harvick in the fifth and final segment of the 2015 Sprint All-Star race to clinch his first win in the Charlotte event. A late penalty for Brad Keselowski cleared the way as the Team Penske driver dropped to the back of the field and Hamlin took advantage.
The win from Hamlin was the first for Joe Gibbs Racing in the long history of the team. His No. 11 machine was one of the fastest all night as he took the pole and led the first 14 laps of the race in the opening portion.
Here’s a look at the full results from the exhibition race.
- Denny Hamlin
- Kevin Harvick
- Kurt Busch
- Jeff Gordon
- Matt Kenseth
- Kyle Busch
- Kasey Kahne
- Joey Logano
- Brad Keselowski
- Dale Earnhardt Jr.
- A.J. Allmendinger
- Clint Bowyer
- Greg Biffle
- Aric Almirola
- Jimmie Johnson
- Jamie McMurray
- Carl Edwards
- Ryan Newman
- Tony Stewart
- Danica Patrick
Kasey Kahne pulled ahead of Hamlin in the first segment and dominated for the next 11 laps to win the opening leg. However, his team decided to take four tires while Keselowski’s team took just two. That would ultimately propel the No. 2 Penske machine to the front and give him clean air on the restart.
— Chicken Bone Alley (@CBoneAlley) May 17, 2015
Keselowski couldn’t be caught in the second or third leg as he thoroughly dominated every other car on the track. His average finish at that point, which decided the order of the final 10-lap shootout, was second, giving him the top spot in the fifth segment.
Kurt Busch would win the fourth segment, but Kes still had the upper hand. However, the No. 2 machine was too fast coming off pit road trying to beat out Hamlin and it cost him. The Penske driver would drop to the back of the field and was unable to get back out front with only 10 laps remaining.
Following the penalty, Keselowski told his crew, “There was only so much I could do. I had to get the lead.” His crew chief Paul Wolfe responded, “We can’t get a penalty doing it.” Ultimately, it ended up being a million-dollar mistake for a driver that ran up near the front almost all night long.
Danica Patrick was forced to move to the back of the field at the start due to an engine change before qualifying. After winning the Fan Vote, Patrick was unable to make an impact and eventually headed to the garage during the third segment and essentially ended any chance of competing.
Coming off a strong showing in the All-Star Race, Hamlin will look to continue that good fortune with a win in the Coca-Cola 600 next Sunday. Hamlin has never won the Coke 600, so pulling the double over the two weekend span will be an arduous task for the No. 11 driver. After all, there’s a massive difference between 400 laps and 110.
Follow Chicken Bone Alley on Twitter.