Author: Kyran Gibbons
Date: July 21, 2019
Stewart-Haas Racing's Kevin Harvick survived a final lap battle at New Hampshire with Denny Hamlin to clinch his first victory of the 2019 NASCAR Cup Series season.
Joe Gibbs Racing's Hamlin was leading throughout a large portion of the final stage before Kyle Larson hit the wall at Turn 1 and triggered a caution with 37 of the 301 laps to go.
Harvick was running in the top five and opted to stay out in order to take the lead at the restart.
Hamlin restarted in fourth and swiftly cleared both team-mates Martin Truex Jr and Erik Jones - who also stayed out - to set up a showdown with Harvick.
The gap between the two had stabalised at half a second, but with Harvick compromised by traffic on the penultimate lap, Hamlin closed to within inches of the SHR Ford entering the last tour.
Harvick's first win of 2019 arrives at the same venue at which he clinched his sixth victory last season. It is also the first win of the year for SHR.
Starting at the back of the field in a backup car - and the same JGR Toyota which propelled Truex Jr to victory at Richmond earlier in the season - Hamlin rose to ninth by the end of stage one.
Both Hamlin and Harvick were among a number of front runners to sacrifice stage points at the end of the second stage, pitting at a late caution in order to gain track position towards the end of the race.
Hamlin tagged Harvick's bumper entering Turn 1 but the SHR driver managed to stay ahead.
Entering the final turns, Harvick took a defensive line and despite closing to Harvick's outside quarter-panel at the last corner, Hamlin was unable to squeeze through.
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