Chevrolet’s struggles in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series continued Sunday as Denny Hamlin won the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry.
But while Chevy was unable to take the win, there were still some positive takeaways for the bowtie brand in the Lone Star State. The race marked its best NASCAR outing so far in 2019, with Jimmie Johnson performing solidly to put his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in the top five.
Johnson didn’t quite have the pace that the race-winning Toyota, did, though, with Hamlin looking fast in all three stages and leading the race three separate times for a total of 45 laps on his way to the victory. The Camry’s speed was so significant, in fact, that Hamlin won the race despite incurring a handful of penalties and missing pit road under green.
“I don’t know. We tried every way we could to give it away, and we found a way to do it with this FedEx Camry,” he said. “Once we got out front, we were able to pull away from the pack a little bit. Got a little bit loose when we were racing our teammates in the 18 (Kyle Busch) and the 20 (Erik Jones). So wasn’t able to be as aggressive as I was earlier in the race. We had a super-fast car. That’s why we won.”
A late and final caution came out on lap 255, setting up the end of the race. When the green came back out, Johnson diced with Busch, Daniel Suarez and Aric Almirola for the lead. Busch appeared to be the faster car of the four, but he later hit the wall and was forced to pit on Lap 282 after leading a race-high 66 laps. Meanwhile, Hamlin was working his way through the field, taking a splash of fuel on Lap 319 before reeling the leaders in for the final time 4 laps later and passing Stewart-Haas Racing’s Clint bowyer for the lead.
Click here for full results from the 2019 NASCAR O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.