Denny Hamlin held off Greg Biffle to capture his first win on a NASCAR superspeedway in Sunday’s 45th annual Aaron’s 499.
Ironically, Hamlin’s first superspeedway victory and 24th career win came in his 300th NASCAR Sprint Cup start. For a driver who favors short tracks and has had little success on the superspeedways, Hamlin was elated to earn his first win on the famous 2.66 mile superspeedway.
“I’m a short track guy,” he noted. “Those are my roots, that’s where I love racing the most, but we’ve come a long way...We couldn’t finish 22nd at a superspeedway for the longest time...It feels good to come to these types of race tracks and know you can win... It feels great! This was the biggest crowd I’ve seen here in many, many years. I’m so proud of the whole fan turnout, and just proud of our day today!”
Hamlin’s first superspeedway win practically guarantees his entry into the 2014 NASCAR Chase after missing out on the Series playoffs last season.
For second-place finisher Greg Biffle, who led a race-high 58 laps, it was disappointing that the last lap caution for debris at the start-finish line thwarted his chance to pass Hamlin for the win.
Biffle commented on that critical final lap.
“That final restart Clint (Bowyer) gave us a huge push, and we had a huge run on the 11 car (Hamlin),” he explained. “I looked in the mirror and saw the smoke behind me, and I wasn’t really sure the caution was going to come out. I didn’t know what to do, and I thought about making my move on the 11 right then because I had a huge run and could have. Probably off turn two...So I was just waiting...and they said the caution’s out! I was setting up to go by him, but just never had the chance. I wish I would have known we weren’t going to race all the way back, but it was a good day for us.”