Denny Hamlin wins Cup spring race at Bristol Motor Speedway

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Denny Hamlin has won the first spring Cup race on the Bristol concrete since 2020.

Hamlin led a 1-2 Joe Gibbs Racing finish with Martin Truex Jr. right behind him. Brad Keselowski, Alex Bowman and Kyle Larson rounded out the top five.

This is Hamlin’s 52nd career Cup win and his fourth at Bristol. Hamlin also won last season’s playoff race at Bristol. He has led 305 laps at Bristol across the last two races.

MORE: Bristol spring race results

Sunday’s race was less about track position and more about managing tires. The Goodyear tires — the same tire codes used in last season’s playoff race at Bristol — did not lay down rubber as expected. There was extra wear on the tires, which led to multiple drivers spinning due to right-side issues.

The teams started the day with 10 sets of tires — one set from qualifying. NASCAR and Goodyear worked to get an extra set to the teams early in the race as tire wear became more of a storyline.

The drivers and teams still had to manage their equipment. Once they crossed 40 green-flag laps on the tires, they had to watch for any issues with the right front and right rear tires.

“This is the first time the driver played a huge role in a long, long time,” Hamlin said during his post-race press conference. “Long time. It’s a different philosophy from what we’re used to, which is everyone is just kind of on the gas all the time running the bottom, the shortest way around.”



Who had a good race: All four Joe Gibbs Racing drivers led at least 28 laps at Bristol one week after they each led 50 or more laps at Phoenix. They all finished in the top 10. … Justin Haley nearly crashed in Saturday’s qualifying session but spent the final two stages around the top 10. He ran as high as sixth in the final stage before finishing 17th. … Alex Bowman finished fourth, his first top-10 finish since the Daytona 500. … John Hunter Nemechek finished sixth, his first top 10 since the Daytona 500. … Martin Truex Jr. posted his first top-five finish since Michigan last August.

Who had a bad race: William Byron broke a toe link early in stage 1 after contact with the outside wall. His team made repairs but he finished 35th and eight laps down. … Kyle Busch had a right rear tire issue late in Stage 1. He spun and fell one lap down. Busch got back on the lead lap but spun again in Stage 2 with another tire issue. He finished 25th. … Tyler Reddick stayed out on older tires after a caution on Lap 22. He restarted first but spun after contact from Josh Berry and Bubba Wallace. Reddick spent the rest of the race several laps down and finished 30th. … Zane Smith finished 36th after an engine issue. This was his fourth straight finish of 29th or worse.

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