07-20-2017 Tri-City Area Sports

Hamlin’s number comes up in Overton 301

Denny Hamlin is in his 13th year in the NASCAR Cup Series. Before Sunday, Hamlin was winless in only two seasons on the circuit: 2005 and this year.

But Hamlin ended his 2017 drought by nabbing a first place finish in the Overton’s 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The win gave Hamlin his 30th career victory. He led 54 laps in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series event.

Hamlin’s best year in the Series was 2010 when he won eight individual checkered flags. Last year, he won three races, so it’s been a challenge this season as the crew worked to get a win.

In the 19th race of the season, Kyle Larson continued to be the bridesmaid. He led one lap but finished in second place for the seventh time this year. Larson has nine top five finishes this season: two wins and the seven second places.

Martin Truex Jr. led 137 of the race’s 301 laps and was the pole sitter. He finished in third place.

Matt Kenseth, who is winless this season, led four laps and earned his fourth top five finish. He took fourth place.

Kevin Harvick rounded out the top five in fifth place.

The race featured seven caution periods for 34 laps. There were 11 lead changes.

Drivers who led laps but didn’t finish in the top five included: Kyle Busch (95) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (10).

Of the 39 drivers, a whopping 24 finished on the lead lap at New Hampshire.

Truex Jr. leads the driver standings in first place. He is followed – ironically – by Larson, who trails by 38 points. Another Kyle – Busch – is in third place, 108 points behind the leader.

Harvick is 119 points out in fourth place, while Hamlin is now in fifth place, just 169 points behind Truex Jr.

Chase Elliott, Jamie McMurray, Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, and Clint Bowyer round out the top 10.

Racing action returns to our area on Sunday with the running of the Brantley Gilbert Big Machine Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Speedway.

Kyle Busch was last year’s winner at the ‘Yard. He was also the winner in 2015. Can Busch make it a three-pack? Find out next week.

Area softball teams scoop up All-State and All-Conference awards

Coloma, Hartford, and Watervliet softball stars scooped 11 of the 12 First Team nominations in the Southwestern Athletic Conference – Lakeshore Division.