April 23, 2012
By Brenda Benedict
Dorothy and Toto made Kansas weather famous in The Wizard of Oz.
The weather in Kansas also had an effect on events at the Kansas Speedway this past Sunday and brought a win to the Joe Gibb’s team of Denny Hamlin.
“It was a good day for Toyota.” Denny Hamlin understated the obvious after taking the checkered flag at Sunday’s STP 400 at Kansas Speedway.
Personally, I thought it was a ‘quiet’ race that made for a quiet Sunday afternoon in front of the FOX broadcast. But the win brought confidence to Hamlin and a close call for Martin Truex, Jr. who led the race until Hamlin passed him with 31 laps to go.
CIA Stock Photos
Hamlin Outruns Truex Jr. At Kansas
Martin Truex Jr. of Michael Waltrip Racing, who also drives a Toyota, was a close second to Hamlin. Kyle Busch finished 10th giving Toyota three cars in the top ten.
The weather seems to have been a factor in the win.
Hamlin passed Truex after the sun appeared after an overcast day.
Denny Hamlin stated, “Our car was better once the sun came out.” He explained that the grip level is higher and cars run tighter when the sun is shining directly on the track. He feels that drivers are more prominent and more important when sun is out.
According to Darian Grubb, Hamlin’s crew chief, the weather on Sunday morning was similar to Friday’s practice and caused him to make adjustments in the race trim.
Truex was running fastest until the sun came out and his car became loose. Hamlin then had the advantage and used it to dominate for the last 31 laps. Truex made two attempts to pass Hamlin by running the bottom line but each time he did, he lost momentum and was never able to put Hamlin in his rearview mirror.
Can such a slight change in the weather affect the outcome of a race? According to Brian Neudorff, a meteorologist who is also a NASCAR fan, weather always has a big effect on the races. He said, “Obviously (weather) is very important. It's an outdoor sport with equipment that is temperature and air sensitive.”
Brian Neudorff - Weather Man, is the best source I have found for up-to-the minute weather information during the race. I met Neudorff at a NASCAR race several years ago. He has brought his weather knowledge and love of NASCAR together to supply us with timely information. You can follow him on Twitter at @nascar_wxman for interesting updates during the race.
The asphalt track at Kansas Speedway is scheduled to be replaced and work began immediately after Sunday’s race. The heavy equipment lined up on pit road and NASCAR drivers even took part. Fans and media were rushing to get pieces for souvenirs. Brad Keselowski was reportedly seen in the turret of a tank. So we can only hope he will be tweeting pictures of the action like he did during the Daytona 500.
Hamlin will be returning to his home track at Richmond next Sunday and feels that this week’s win will be a big boost for his sponsors as he prepares for next week’s race. “I feel I can race with anyone in this sport”.
Will he take that swagger and confidence to Richmond and become the first three race winner this season? I suppose that depends on weather!
Denny Hamlin earned his 19th Cup Series victory in his 231st start and joins Tony Stewart as the second repeat winner of 2012.
This is Denny Hamlin's first victory at Kansas in his ninth start.
Denny Hamlin is the ninth different driver to win in 13 races at Kansas.
This is 199th win for car No. 11, most of all numbers after breaking a tie with No. 43.
Joe Gibbs Racing earned its 95th Cup Series victory, second win of 2012 and second win at Kansas.
This is Toyota's first Kansas victory of second victory of 2012.
Martin Truex Jr. (second) has top-10 finishes in the past five races, a career high. This is Truex's best Kansas finish and puts him a career-best second in points.
Martin Truex Jr. led 173 laps, the most of all drivers, but was passed by Hamlin for the final lead change with 31 laps to go. This is the ninth time in 13 Kansas races that the driver who led the most laps failed to win.
Jimmie Johnson (third) scored his seventh consecutive top-10 finish at Kansas and fifth top-10 of 2012.
Matt Kenseth (fourth) has top-five finishes in five races in 2012 including four of the past five.
Greg Biffle (fifth) scored his fifth top-five finish of 2012 and seventh consecutive top-10 at Kansas.
Kevin Harvick (sixth) has finished 11th or better in all but one of the eight races of 2012.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (seventh) has top-10 finishes in the past four races. This is only the second time he has finished in the top 10 in four consecutive races since moving to Hendrick Motorsports.
Kasey Kahne (eighth) earned his second top-10 finish of 2012, both of which came in the past two races.
The average speed of the race was 144.126 mph -- a new track record.
The three cautions for 18 laps was the fewest for a Cup race at Kansas.
Stats and notes courtesy of NASCAR Wire Service.
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