Denny Hamlin claimed his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win of the season by beating a dominant Martin Truex Jr to Toyota's first Kansas Speedway victory.
Truex seemed poised to give Michael Waltrip Racing a deserved first win of the season as he led 173 of the first 236 laps. However, he struggled with a loose car as the sun came out during the final run following the last round of stops, allowing Hamlin to get a run at him after the JGR driver had been in his mirrors but not looking able to pose a real threat.
Hamlin made the pass for the lead on the inside at Turn 3 with 31 laps remaining and was able to remain up front despite Truex charging back to put the pressure on him in the last few laps. The MWR racer eventually tried to dive down the inside of Hamlin twice in desperate attempts to reclaim the lead, but he did not have enough to prevent Hamlin from snatching victory.
"When we came out from that final green-flag pitstop and we were side by side, I knew that that was pretty much the race for the win," said Hamlin. "When he cleared me I though it was over and we just kind of got in a rhythm there, he continued to fight with the car and we were able to make the pass."
Truex was disappointed to come so close to his first victory for MWR and see it slip away in the final run, where he complained his car suddenly lost the edge it had for most of the day.
"If I had made a mistake or we'd made a bad adjustment or something, it would probably be a little bit easier to swallow to be honest," said Truex. "But to put tires on and touch the car and all of a sudden the car drives worse than it has all day, it is pretty frustrating when you haven't won in a while."
Jimmie Johnson finished a distant third after being in contention with Truex up front. The fastest car on track a number of times, he struggled to translate his superior pace into a pass for the lead. During the final caution Johnson pitted from second place while most of the field stayed out, costing him track position and perhaps, another shot at the lead.
"Today we ran well but we weren't a dominant car and kind of finished where we should have," said Johnson. "Today doesn't bother me. Sure, I'd love to do it, but the 56 [Truex] and the 11 [Hamlin] at the end had more pace than we did."
Roush Fenway's Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle had yet another solid day with fourth and fifth respectively but neither were a threat for victory during the afternoon.
Richard Childress Racing's Kevin Harvick recovered from running out of fuel before his second stop to finish sixth ahead of Hendrick's Dale Earnhardt Jr., while Kasey Kahne also charged back from running out of fuel pressure a few laps after Harvick, finishing eighth.
There were plenty of engine issues for some of the top runners including Penske's AJ Allmendinger, who had started from pole position. Truex's teammates Clint Bowyer and Mark Martin also succumbed to engine woes.
For the second week in a row a new event-record for the fewest number of cautions was set, the yellow flags waving only three times to beat the previous record of five. Only 13 cars finished on the lead lap as a consequence, the last of them being reigning champion Tony Stewart.
Results - 267 laps:
Pos Driver Team/Car Gap
1. Denny Hamlin Gibbs Toyota
2. Martin Truex Jr Waltrip Toyota + 0.700s
3. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet + 3.324s
4. Matt Kenseth Roush Fenway Ford + 8.017s
5. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford + 14.317s
6. Kevin Harvick Childress Chevrolet + 14.498s
7. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet + 18.621s
8. Kasey Kahne Hendrick Chevrolet + 21.953s
9. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford + 24.049s
10. Kyle Busch Gibbs Toyota + 24.433s
11. Brad Keselowski Penske Dodge + 27.615s
12. Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt-Ganassi Chevrolet + 28.404s
13. Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Chevrolet + 30.714s
14. Jamie McMurray Earnhardt-Ganassi Chevrolet + 1 lap
15. Joey Logano Gibbs Toyota + 1 lap
16. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford + 1 lap
17. Kurt Busch Phoenix Chevrolet + 1 lap
18. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet + 1 lap
19. Sam Hornish Jr Penske Dodge + 1 lap
20. Ryan Newman Stewart-Haas Chevrolet + 2 laps
21. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet + 3 laps
22. Jeff Burton Childress Chevrolet + 3 laps
23. Aric Almirola Petty Ford + 3 laps
24. Regan Smith Furniture Row Chevrolet + 4 laps
25. Travis Kvapil BK Toyota + 4 laps
26. Casey Mears Germain Ford + 4 laps
27. David Gilliland Front Row Ford + 4 laps
28. Reed Sorenson FAS Lane Ford + 4 laps
29. David Reutimann Baldwin Chevrolet + 5 laps
30. David Ragan Front Row Ford + 5 laps
31. JJ Yeley Robinson-Blakeney Toyota + 6 laps
32. AJ Allmendinger Penske Dodge + 10 laps
Mark Martin Waltrip Toyota 255 laps
Landon Cassill BK Toyota 214 laps
Bobby Labonte JTG Daugherty Toyota 132 laps
Clint Bowyer Waltrip Toyota 125 laps
Dave Blaney Balwin Chevrolet 82 laps
David Stremme Inception Toyota 80 laps
Josh Wise Front Row Ford 65 laps
Michael McDowell Parsons Ford 58 laps
Joe Nemechek NEMCO Toyota 47 laps
Mike Bliss Humphrey Smith Toyota 27 laps
Scott Riggs R3 Chevrolet 18 laps