Denny Hamlin Bests Truex Jr to Win Kansas

Russell SchmidtContributor IApril 22, 2012

Denny Hamlin
Denny HamlinChris Graythen/Getty Images

Racin’ with Russ: By all accounts, it appeared that lap leader Martin Truex Jr was set to win his second race ever, this one at the Kansas Motor Speedway. But when the Sunday afternoon sun came out, the handle on Truex Jr’s Toyota went away, allowing fellow Toyota shoe Denny Hamlin to zip to the point for his 19th career win.

Truex Jr was obviously disappointed after leading the most laps but took solace in moving into second spot in the overall standings.

The race began with A.J. Allmendinger on the pole, his second career notch, and he led a bunch of laps before the first round of pit stops. From there, the Penske Dodge driver had mechanical woes, winding up deep in the field. Jimmy Johnson led for a while, as did Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski, but Truex Jr had everything working correctly to dominate the field.

That is, until the weather changed slightly, allowing Hamlin a shot at the front. The race had only three caution flags, a new record for the mid-west track. The top-five finishers included Truex Jr, Johnson, Kenseth and Greg Biffle.

Once again, owner Rick Hendrick will have to wait another week or more to land that illusive 200th team win. Jeff Gordon ran among the top 10 until late in the go, when he lost a cylinder in his Hendrick Chevy. Biffle remains on top of the points charts by 15 over Truex Jr, with Matt Kenseth just a couple of points farther back in third.

Camping World Trucks

Sebastien Vettel on right, Sebastien Bourdais (l)
Sebastien Vettel on right, Sebastien Bourdais (l)Peter Fox/Getty Images

Tim George took the pole for the trucks on Saturday, but it was Todd Bodine, Ron Hornaday and eventual winner James Buescher showing the fast way around the Kansas facility.

Buescher wound up grabbing his very first truck checkers, after claiming his first Nationwide victory at the first race in Daytona. It also marked the second consecutive win for owner Turner Motorsports, after Kasey Kahne won the race last week in Rockingham. Rounding out the top five finishers included Timothy Peters, Keselowski, Nelson Piquet Jr and Bodine.

The latest results finds Peters out front with Buescher only four markers back. Justin Lofton and rookie Ty Dillon are less than 15 points in arrears.


Open Wheel News

Sunday’s F-1 race in Bahrain looked like an instant replay of last year, as Sebastien Vettel took the pole and ran away with the win, leading every lap of the two-hour show. Runner-up Kimi Raikkonen gave Vettel a bit of a tussle en route to his 22nd trophy, with Kimi’s teammate Romain Grosjean not far behind.

Vettel’s latest win puts him four points ahead of Lewis Hamilton, who struggled to finish ninth.

From Rumorville

With Penske departing from Dodge after this season, rumors are in high gear that the King Richard Petty might return to his famous Chrysler roots for next season and beyond. Stay tuned for more news along these lines.

Five-hour Energy has announced a rather lucrative extension to their sponsorship of MWR’s No. 15 Toyota, driven by Clint Bowyer. The once 25-race agreement has now been extended to 37 events.

At the other end of the money spectrum, driver Kurt Busch and owner James Finch are still looking for funding to finish the year in a full-time capacity. There does appear to be a chance of ending early or not completing a full year. So far, Busch has driven well but has been a victim of bad luck in netting top-10 results.

Former NASCAR driver Jeremy Mayfield was indicted by a grand jury in Iredell County, NC, last week for several larcenies dating back to 2010. Mayfield is charged with five counts of felonious breaking and entering of tractor-trailers and one count of felony larceny.

In addition to these problems, when authorities searched Mayfield’s home, they found drugs in his safe, and his $3 million home is in jeopardy of being foreclosed on. What a shame for this once-talented driver.

That’s it for this week. Next week, RWR will review the NASCAR rounds from Richmond, along with more racing news from around the globe.