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NASCAR Cup Series

Hamlin ‘Couldn’t Pass’ in All-Star Runner-Up


Denny Hamlin during Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway. (Photo: Ricky Martinez | The Podium Finish)

NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. — Denny Hamlin kept his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry toward the front throughout the back half of Sunday’s NASCAR All-Star Race, but couldn’t get by Joey Logano as he took second at North Wilkesboro Speedway.

Logano, who won a Cup Series event for the first time since Atlanta Motor Speedway last spring, led 199 of the 200 laps — replicating a dominant performance from Kyle Larson last year.

“I needed more of an advantage to pass for sure. I would run to him, and then you couldn’t pass,” Hamlin said after the race. “I would lose a little bit of air there, and I would try to give my car a break and then run to him again – just have to be so much faster to get around.”

Starting 11th, Hamlin got up to seventh at the halfway break before breaking inside the top five shortly after the restart. With just under 90 laps to go, Logano and Christopher Bell made contact battling for the lead and Hamlin briefly snuck ahead but never recorded a lap led.

The 43-year-old from Chesterfield, Virginia, had opportunities to pounce on Logano, but could never take advantage. He stayed out along with the top six at the final artificial caution with 50 to go, and rather than chasing down Logano, had to play defense on a hard-charging Kyle Larson.

Understandably, Hamlin left North Wilkesboro frustrated falling a spot short of a $1 million payday. Still, he credited NASCAR for its experiment.


Denny Hamlin during NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race practice at North Wilkesboro Speedway. (Photo: Phil Cavali | The Podium Finish)

Rather than just one tire, NASCAR made two tires available to teams — a control tire and a soft tire. The softer tire had less durability but more speed, while the control tire was more standard to what typically gets used for races.

Teams had to start the race on soft tires but could move off of them later in the event, including the mandatory Lap 100 stop and the optional Lap 150 stop.

“Hats off to the track, NASCAR and Goodyear for giving it a try,” Hamlin said. “Hopefully, we learned something here for future short tracks. I hate it for our whole Mavis Tire team.”

Had Hamlin finished one spot better, he would’ve recorded his second victory in the All-Star Race. His first came back in 2015 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Though Sunday’s race didn’t count for points, Hamlin sits third in the standings with victories at Bristol Motor Speedway, Richmond Raceway and Dover Motor Speedway.

Nathan Solomon serves as the managing editor of The Podium Finish. He has been part of the team since 2021 and is accredited by the National Motorsports Press Association. Solomon is a senior in the Jandoli School of Communication at St. Bonaventure University. Contact him at

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