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Kevin Harvick isn't surprised by JGR Insider jeopardizing Denny Hamlin's Martinsville hopes with a last-minute gamble

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Pit stop strategies have always played a big role in giving drivers an extra boost in NASCAR races. There are cases where a surprise call and pit stop strategies could have changed a driver's fortunes, and that proved true for William Byron in the Cook Out 400 race at Martinsville.

For the HMS driver, an early call to the pits meant he was in the best position to go on and win the race. However, a similar attempt by Denny Hamlin failed after he decided to make a pit stop before the end of extra time. It was indeed a strange decision by Chris Gabehart and Hamlin to pit late in the race considering they could have finished in the top five. However, according to Kevin Harvick, they were able to make this risky decision and try to catch everyone by surprise.

Kevin Harvick explains the reasons for Hamlin's questionable pit stop strategy

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The most important factor for any driver to secure their spot in the playoff round is a win in the regular season. In Hamlin's case, he's been on the winning track not just once, but twice since the start of the season. His first victory came at Bristol, while at Richmond he emerged victorious thanks to some great work from his pit crew.

Therefore, #11 has the cushion to experiment with different tactics demonstrated at Martinsville Speedway. Since Byron and his team were already ahead in the race, they also needed an unconventional strategy to get back into the fight for victory. Kevin Harvick explained the thought process behind Hamlin's pit bet on Happy Hour: “Martinsville is a race track where you have to evolve and make the right decisions about your cars, adjustments and things throughout the day.”

Harvick commented on the late pit stop, adding: “But there was another team that could just say what they had and hopefully they were the first car to come into the pits and we came out fifth or fourth or whatever the pit cycle was. Entire groups stayed outside and had no chance. But they're in a position where Chris Gabehart can make that decision and say, let's just see what happens here.”

While Hamlin would have stayed out on the final restart of the race, it was his crew chief's orders to make the pit stop to attract the other drivers.

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Chris Gabehart advised Hamlin to shake things up for the overtime restart

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With three HMS cars leading the field in the final laps following the late caution, Hamlin was unable to find his way to the leading car #24 despite his best efforts. Here the dynamics of the race depended on strategy decisions and pit stops. Similar scenes occurred at the Richmond race, and Hamlin's crew hoped something similar would happen at Martinsville. Unfortunately, the HMS trio won despite the well-thought-out strategy of the #11 JGR.

We have two wins. We had to restart there in fourth place. Ultimately I told Denny: If no one pits in front of you, then just pit. Let’s try to shake things up and do something different. For us, fourth or fifth place is actually no different from tenth or eleventh place, considering we have two wins“said Gabehart after the race.

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Overall, Hamlin and his team principal have implemented winning strategies so far this season. But this time they were unlucky for nothing. This certainly won't be the last time the duo tried something different during the regular season, knowing that with these two wins under their belt they secured the playoffs.

Kevin Harvick unleashes a “Double Chin” sign on the broadcast booth partner after being forced into Martinsville rituals