After a long wait in the NASCAR Next Gen era, Denny Hamlin gives Toyota their first win in the new car after early-season struggles. This week there were a lot of questions surrounding the manufacturer and their Next Gen success. Richmond Raceway was the place to prove otherwise. Toyotas are always running well on the historic short track.
Leading the way for Toyota is Joe Gibbs Racing, of course. There are other drivers and teams that drive the Camry TRD, however, the four drivers at JGR and the legacy of the team carry a lot of weight. After the first six races of the season, there was little to nothing to show for it from Toyota’s perspective.
Even leading up to the race this weekend, folks were wondering what would happen. Martin Truex Jr. had won 3 of the last 5 before today at Richmond. JGR as a team had won 8 of the last 12 before today’s race. Those Toyotas ran really run well for the Joe Gibbs crew and that was rewarded with all four drivers finishing in the top-10.
It all came down to tire strategy. There were a lot of pit stops today. Four green flag pit cycles in just one afternoon of racing. Only five green flag pits were taken all season before today’s race at Richmond.
After such a strong showing, which includes Denny Hamlin’s win, Toyota and JGR are hoping for some momentum moving forward. That’s the first win of the season and the first top-10 finish of the year for Hamlin. Perhaps he is ready to rack up those top-5 finishes moving forward.
How many more wins will this JGR team get? There’s more short-track racing on the way this season.
NASCAR at Richmond Ends with Denny Hamlin Taking the Win in His Toyota
Heading into the weekend, the JGR team was favored in Vegas a bit. Christopher Bell was picked from a prediction model to take the win. He ran great but wasn’t able to secure the checkered flag. Instead, the elder teammate, Hamlin was the one who had the tire strength and the speed to take the win.
The trio of Hamlin, Truex Jr., and Kyle Busch were all set at 17-2 odds. Those Toyotas ran hard and it paid off in the end. When you are able to place four of your drivers into the top-10 that’s a good day. Especially with the highlight being a win from the No. 11. Although he has had some frustration this season, Hamlin looks to be getting things on the right track.
If Toyota and JGR have figured out these Next Gen cars, then things are going to get very interesting at these races. There is so much talent and skill in the Cup Series right now, that it is hard to guess what will happen week in and week out. Now that Toyota has a win in the Next Gen era, it’s on to the next one at Martinsville next weekend.