In one of the least entertaining restrictor-plate races in recent memory, Denny Hamlin won the 45th annual Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway, his first career win at the 2.66-mile track.
Despite having all the necessary ingredients for what should have been an exciting and thrilling race (a big wreck, several smaller ones and cars three and four wide in large packs), Sunday’s restrictor-plate race was a forgettable affair.
Greg Biffle, who led the most laps (58), finished second, and Clint Bowyer, whose season is still trying to get off the ground, finished third.
Hamlin admitted that the victory was an acknowledgement of sorts that he had matured as a race car driver.
“When you drive as aggressively as I drove early in my career on superspeedways, I was either wrecking or finishing in the top three, and it was usually wrecking,” said Hamlin in a post-race interview. “I think the way I’m doing things now lends itself to being a little bit more consistent on these types of race tracks. Early in my career I was always the one trying to make holes (in the pack), and that got me in trouble.”
With the win, the FedEx-sponsored driver became the eighth different Sprint Cup winner this season and locked the 33-year-old Virginian into the 2014 Chase.