NASCAR.com's Nick Duncan talks with Denny Hamlin after winning the STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway to claim his 5th Martinsville clock.
NASCAR.com's Chuck Bush recaps the STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway. Highlights include Chase Elliott's Sprint Cup Series debut, Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s shifter issues and Denny Hamlin taking home another Martinsville clock.
Denny Hamlin holds off Brad Keselowski in the final laps at Martinsville Speedway to win the STP 500.
Denny Hamlin celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway.
Denny Hamlin and Jeff Gordon each express their opinions on potential tire tampering and what the penalty should be if a team were caught bleeding tires intentionally.
Denny Hamlin talks about the recent announcement on J.D. Gibbs, president of Joe Gibbs Racing, saying that he will be starting treatment for symptoms impacting areas of brain function.
Denny Hamlin reflects on what his win at Martinsville means for the team after an emotional week.
Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth: 99 laps led, two finishes outside top 25 RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings FONTANA, Calif. -- Denny Hamlin went into Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway looking for redemption. But what he found was ill-timed misfortune. After leading 56 laps, the second-highest total of the race, Hamlin suffered a pit road penalty on Lap 186 when an uncontrolled tire left his pit box, dropping the Joe Gibbs Racing driver from third to 30th. "We worked our way up to the top five and then the top three and then had a penalty," Hamlin said on pit road following his 28th-place finish. "You just can't come back from that. There ain't nobody in the field with a fast enough car to come back from that. We had (a penalty) at an inopportune time and it just led to a bad finish and we blew up at the end, so that topped everything off." Last week at Phoenix International Raceway , Hamlin received a pit road penalty on Lap 68 for a crewmember being over the wall too soon, and after the Virginia native received the penalty this week he came over his radio to express his displeasure. "This better not be two weeks in a row, I'm telling you," Hamlin radioed to his team. "We can't catch a (expletive) break." Hamlin had high hopes of shaking his California calamities after fracturing his L1 vertebra in 2013 on a last-lap wreck when battling Joey Logano -- an injury that sidelined him for the four races that followed. And last year, Hamlin qualified 13th at Fontana, but had to be replaced in his No. 11 Toyota when he experienced vision issues that was later found to be caused from a piece of metal lodged into his eye. Hamlin wasn't the only JGR driver who experienced pit road mishaps, either. Both the No. 20 of Matt Kenseth and the No. 19 of Carl Edwards also saw setbacks. After leading 43 laps, Kenseth went to pit road as the leader on Lap 185 and left with four tires and a damaged axle when the jack dropped, resulting in a mechanical failure and a 31st-place finish. He had logged two pit stops of fewer than 11 seconds before that incident. "I let the clutch out to go and the axle broke," Kenseth explained. "I don't know why. I didn't do anything different than we ever do, so it just broke. "I don't think that's (bad) luck. An axle breaking is either a faulty part or not the right part or not the gear ratio or -- there's usually a reason. We busted one last year -- somebody did, one of our cars -- and I don't know that we ever figured out why and then we just broke another one, so it's certainly something you've got to get a handle on. You can't break parts. Nobody breaks parts anymore, so you can't afford to do it obviously." Edwards was penalized on Lap 200 (the race was extended to 209 laps due to two attempts at a green-white-checkered finish) for being too fast on pit road, but he was able to work his way back up from the rear to finish 13th. "That was a hard-fought race," Edwards said. "I got a speeding penalty toward the end and put us back in the back and made it back up to 13th. A great group effort by my guys with the backup car. Even though we couldn't get a win, to put that effort forth was huge." Coincidentally, the only JGR driver who didn't have trouble on pit road spun out on the track. David Ragan , who is still filling in for an injured Kyle Busch in the No. 18, brought out the first caution of the day when Jeff Gordon took the air off Ragan's Toyota. Ragan ultimately finished 18th. Through five races none of the JGR drivers are in the top 10 in points. Kenseth is currently the highest-running driver in the team sitting 13th in the driver standings with Hamlin and David Ragan following in 14th and 15th, respectively. JGR newcomer Edwards is close in 17th. Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Martinsville Speedway , where Hamlin has earned four wins, nine top-five and 14 top-10 finishes in 18 career Cup starts. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Denny Hamlin receives a penalty for an uncontrolled tire late at Auto Club Speedway.
Driver missed 2014 race with vision issues, injured in last-lap wreck in '13 Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live If Denny Hamlin were feeling a bit apprehensive about this weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway , it would certainly be understandable. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver has had memorable experiences in his last two trips to the 2-mile track, but not necessarily positive ones. In 2013, Hamlin won the pole for the Auto Club 400 and was battling with Joey Logano for the win on the final lap of the race when contact between the two sent Hamlin into the inside wall. The impact left Hamlin with a fractured L1 vertebra, an injury that kept him on the sidelines for the next four races. He returned to competition at Talladega, where he completed 23 laps before turning the car over to relief driver Brian Vickers . Last year, Hamlin qualified 13th at Auto Club, only to be replaced before the start of the race due to vision problems. It was later discovered that a piece of metal had become lodged in Hamlin's eye. Hamlin said he thought his team had a car capable of winning last year at ACS. In his absence, Sam Hornish Jr . drove the No. 11 Toyota, eventually finishing 17th. "I'm just as motivated (this year)," Hamlin said last weekend at Phoenix International Raceway . "The last race laps I ran around there was when I got crashed on the last lap racing for a win. "Ultimately, my motivation is to go there and perform at a really high level. It's been circled for like a year or two now to run well there. I just didn't get a chance last year and hopefully I will this year." The last two races at Auto Club have been won by teammate Kyle Busch . This year, it will be Busch that is the one on the sidelines as the No. 18 driver is recovering from leg injuries sustained in an XFINITY Series race at Daytona last month. Crew chief Dave Rogers, previously with Busch, currently heads up Hamlin's team. Hamlin has a pair of top-five finishes this season -- he was fourth at Daytona and fifth at Las Vegas -- and two results outside the top 20. He's 13th in the points standings and, like a lot of other drivers, still trying to sort out this year's rules package. "I wouldn't think this rules package would suit me and my style particularly," he said. "I'd rather have 1,000 horsepower than 700. The less downforce I would say probably does suit me a little bit better, but I think we've just kind of optimized where we're at. We've been a top-five car every week and it's a shame that we made a mistake at Atlanta and spun out, but we were top-five for sure going to finish there, I thought. "We're top-five, but we're still just a little behind on speed from where we need to from the 4 ( Kevin Harvick ) and then the Hendrick cars, but it's all about for us trying to find that little bit of extra speed." Even as they continue to search, Hamlin sees improvement, saying the team is "way closer" than where it stood competitively a year ago. While he has 24 career wins in Sprint Cup competition, none have come at ACS. He has, however, qualified on the pole for the last two events there and scored a career-best finish of third in 2008. "I'm pretty optimistic about what's to come in the months ahead and hopefully if we can make it in the Chase then we can make another run at it," he said. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule