TALLADEGA, Ala. – Denny Hamlin used strategy to gain track position at the start of Stage 2 of Sunday’s GEICO 500 at Talladega, ultimately taking his first stage victory of the season.
Hamlin pitted three laps before the end of the first stage, which allowed him to stay out and assume the lead prior to the kickoff of Stage 2.
From there, he led 40 of 55 laps, only giving up the lead briefly after a caution at lap 82 before reassuming command from Stage 1 winner Brad Keselowski and going on to his first stage win of the year.
“This race has been about trying to manage risk,” Hamlin explained. “Statistics show that you don’t want to be running between seventh and 18th, because that seems to be where all the wrecks start. I was there at the start and didn’t want to be there, so I backed out and tried to play the strategy to get track position for Stage 2. Luckily, it worked out for us.”
The Fords of Kevin Harvick and Ryan Blaney finished second and third at the green-checkered flag, with Blaney making contact with Martin Truex Jr. coming to the start-finish line.
Truex and Jimmie Johnson completed the top five, followed by Kyle Larson, Daytona 500 champion Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne, Erik Jones and Jamie McMurray.
Just as in Stage 1, the second stage only featured one incident, when Reed Sorenson shredded a right-front tire and pounded the outside wall in the tri-oval.
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Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
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