Veteran driver wins his first race of the year at New Hampshire

Entering Sunday’s Overton’s 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Joe Gibbs Racing hadn’t had a single victory all season. Denny Hamlin changed that on Sunday.

Hamlin became the 11th driver to qualify for the postseason after he held off Kyle Larson to win his first race of the year.

Hamlin was driving his backup car, and he led 54 of the 301 laps at the race.

Hamlin told NBC Sports after the race that he was trying not to burn up his tires while he was holding off Larson.

“I was doing everything I could to pace (myself),” Hamlin said. “I knew (Larson) had a very fast car. It just seemed like we were able to get off the corner pretty good. Really I just drove a pace there that I felt comfortable with, just in case we had to restart. I didn’t want to burn the tires up.”

Hamlin had no problem burning up his tires after the race, though.

The top five were Hamlin, Larson, Martin Truex Jr., Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick.

Hamlin was No. 7 in the points entering Sunday’s race, and he was likely to make the postseason anyway. But his win removed all doubt, and he will be in the playoffs.

(h/t NBC Sports)

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