LOUDON, N.H. (AP) — Joe Gibbs Racing has undergone an unexpected upheaval that forced the organization into a youth movement.
The biggest surprise, though, was going 0 for 2017.
Denny Hamlin ended that rut with the kind of finish down the stretch that showed that — yes, the new generation may be on the way — but the JGR lynchpin still knows how to win.
Hamlin held off Kyle Larson over the final laps Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway to send Gibbs to its first victory of the season.
One of the top organizations in NASCAR, JGR had yet to have any of its four drivers win until Hamlin took the lead with 33 laps left and held off the hard-charging Larson on the final lap.
Hamlin needed his 30th career Cup victory to secure a berth in NASCAR’s version of the postseason and end a winless streak that stretched to last September at Richmond.
“Definitely needed a win for the organization, for myself,” Hamlin said.
He’ll take the checkered flag — just hold the nutcracker.
Hamlin, who has a Cup win in each of his 12 seasons, gave everyone a laugh when he scampered away from the lobster traditionally awarded to the winner in victory lane.
“I have a lobster phobia,” he said.
Larson had a sensational run from the rear of the field, where he was forced to start because he failed inspection after he won the pole. Larson lost his points lead last week and his crew chief was suspended after failing a post-race inspection at Kentucky.
Hamlin crashed the No. 11 Toyota in practice and was forced to race in a backup car. It seemed to suit him just fine at New…
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