Denny Hamlin Wins Bristol NASCAR Cup Race

Jackson Wheeler
9 Min Read

How appropriate.

On a day where tire management was the essential element in a NASCAR Cup Series race, three veterans swept the podium positions, with Denny Hamlin winning Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

In a race that produced 54 lead changes—a record for Cup Series short tracks—Hamlin lost the lead briefly to Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr. in the closing laps but regained it in traffic and beat Truex to the finish line by 1.083 seconds.

In a return to concrete after three straight spring races on dirt, Hamlin won his second straight race at the 0.533-mile speedway and his fourth overall, second most among active drivers to Kyle Busch’s eight.

The victory was the 52nd of Hamlin’s career, 13th all-time, and his first this season.

nascar cup series food city 500

Jonathan Bachman//Getty Images

Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 Express Oil Change Toyota, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 17, 2024 in Bristol, Tennessee.

But the story was the tires and the mysterious way they behaved in a race that saw the track start to eat through to the cords 45 laps into a green-flag run.

Goodyear brought the same tire that ran without issues in last fall’s Night Race, but on Sunday, the concrete surface did not take rubber. Instead, marbles (small balls of rubber from degraded tires) accumulated high in the corners, making the top of the track untenable.

There were two variables that might have helped to account for the tire issues. The temperature was roughly 10-15 degrees cooler than it was for last year’s Night Race, which was run on Sept. 16.

NASCAR also opted for a different resin the bottom lane from the PJ1 traction compound previously in use.

Whatever the cause, with his short-track background, Hamlin was best equipped to deal with the surprising situation.

“That’s what I grew up here doing in the short tracks in the Mid Atlantic, South Boston (Va.), Martinsville,” said Hamlin, who grew up in Chesterfield, Va. “Once it became a tire-management race, I really liked our chances.

“Obviously, the veteran in Martin, he knew how to do it as well. We just had a great car, great team. The pit crew just did a phenomenal job all day. Can’t say enough about them… Man, it feels so good to win in Bristol.”

Truex passed Hamlin for the lead in traffic on Lap 483 but surrendered the top spot to the race winner one lap later, as the teammates worked around slower cars. Truex’s tires gave up the ghost on the last few circuits, as Hamlin pulled away.

“Apparently, that’s what I needed to have happen here at Bristol to have a shot at winning—I guess this tire management thing fit into my wheelhouse here at Bristol,” Truex said.

“Man, the difference was just coming out of the pits so far behind Denny (after green-flag pit stops during the final run). I had to use mine up more on the last run. The last four, five laps of the race, was cord.”

auto mar 17 nascar cup series food city 500

Icon Sportswire//Getty Images

Goodyear 18″ racing eagles after failing during the running of the NASCAR Cup Series Food City 500 on March 17, 2024 at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, TN.

Hamlin led a race-high 163 laps, as the four JGR drivers spent a combined 383 of 500 laps at the front field, with Ty Gibbs leading 137, Truex 54 and Christopher Bell 29.

Brad Keselowski, a three-time winner at the track, finished third, 7.284 seconds behind Hamlin. Hendrick Motorsports drivers Alex Bowman and Kyle Larson were fourth and fifth, respectively, as only five drivers finished on the lead lap.

The last time five or fewer drivers finished on the lead lap was the June 6, 2004 race at Dover.

John Hunter Nemechek, Chris Buescher, Chase Elliott, Gibbs and Bell came home sixth through 10th, respectively.

Larson and Truex leave Bristol tied for the series lead, passing defending series champion Ryan Blaney, who finished 16th.

NASCAR Cup Series Race Results Food City 500

Bristol Motor Speedway

Bristol, Tennessee

Sunday, March 17, 2024

1. (3) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 500.

2. (11) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 500.

3. (17) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 500.

4. (29) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 500.

5. (10) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 500.

6. (26) John Hunter Nemechek, Toyota, 499.

7. (34) Chris Buescher, Ford, 499.

8. (5) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 499.

9. (19) Ty Gibbs, Toyota, 499.

10. (12) Christopher Bell, Toyota, 499.

11. (7) Michael McDowell, Ford, 499.

12. (2) Josh Berry #, Ford, 499.

13. (6) Chase Briscoe, Ford, 498.

14. (25) Ryan Preece, Ford, 498.

15. (36) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 498.

16. (1) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 498.

17. (32) Justin Haley, Ford, 498.

18. (28) Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 498.

19. (33) Kaz Grala #, Ford, 498.

20. (15) Erik Jones, Toyota, 498.

21. (18) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 498.

22. (4) Joey Logano, Ford, 498.

23. (30) AJ Allmendinger(i), Chevrolet, 498.

24. (31) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 498.

25. (14) Kyle Busch, Chevrolet, 498.

26. (24) Todd Gilliland, Ford, 497.

27. (35) Carson Hocevar #, Chevrolet, 497.

28. (20) Daniel Hemric, Chevrolet, 496.

29. (9) Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 496.

30. (23) Tyler Reddick, Toyota, 495.

31. (21) Austin Cindric, Ford, 495.

32. (13) Harrison Burton, Ford, 495.

33. (27) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 495.

34. (22) Noah Gragson, Ford, 494.

35. (8) William Byron, Chevrolet, 492.

36. (16) Zane Smith #, Chevrolet, Engine, 192.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 79.678 mph.

Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 20 Mins, 41 Secs. Margin of Victory: 1.083 Seconds.

Caution Flags: 9 for 98 laps.

Lead Changes: 54 among 16 drivers.

Lap Leaders: R. Blaney 1-2;J. Berry # 3-20;D. Hamlin 21-25;C. Elliott 26;T. Reddick 27-30;B. Wallace 31-40;J. Berry # 41-47;B. Wallace 48-52;D. Hamlin 53-60;C. Elliott 61-64;R. Blaney 65-68;K. Busch 69-73;R. Blaney 74;D. Hamlin 75-82;R. Blaney 83-88;D. Hamlin 89-119;T. Gibbs 120-130;R. Blaney 131;K. Larson 132-140;T. Gibbs 141-145;M. Truex Jr. 146-149;T. Gibbs 150-153;K. Larson 154-156;T. Gibbs 157-158;D. Hamlin 159-162;K. Larson 163-165;D. Hamlin 166;K. Larson 167-170;T. Gibbs 171-181;M. Truex Jr. 182;C. Buescher 183-199;C. Bell 200-223;M. Truex Jr. 224-235;C. LaJoie 236-239;C. Bell 240-243;J. Logano 244-248;T. Gibbs 249-256;M. Truex Jr. 257;T. Gibbs 258-284;M. Truex Jr. 285-317;D. Hamlin 318-322;T. Gibbs 323-364;D. Hamlin 365-372;M. Truex Jr. 373;D. Hamlin 374-379;C. Bell 380;D. Hamlin 381-398;T. Gibbs 399-425;D. Hamlin 426-447;M. Truex Jr. 448;B. Keselowski 449;A. Bowman 450-452;D. Hamlin 453-482;M. Truex Jr. 483;D. Hamlin 484-500.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Denny Hamlin 13 times for 163 laps; Ty Gibbs 9 times for 137 laps; Martin Truex Jr. 8 times for 54 laps; Christopher Bell 3 times for 29 laps; Josh Berry # 2 times for 25 laps; Kyle Larson 4 times for 19 laps; Chris Buescher 1 time for 17 laps; Bubba Wallace 2 times for 15 laps; Ryan Blaney 5 times for 14 laps; Joey Logano 1 time for 5 laps; Kyle Busch 1 time for 5 laps; Chase Elliott 2 times for 5 laps; Corey LaJoie 1 time for 4 laps; Tyler Reddick 1 time for 4 laps; Alex Bowman 1 time for 3 laps; Brad Keselowski 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 54,5,17,6,42,12,19,20,41,4

Stage #2 Top Ten: 54,6,22,42,20,19,11,5,23,41

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Jackson Wheeler is a skilled editor at, specializing in automotive content. With a background in Journalism and Automotive Engineering, he combines his passion for cars with his writing expertise to deliver captivating articles. Jackson's deep knowledge of automotive technology and his racing experience make him a valuable asset to the team, providing readers with informative and engaging content.
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