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Hamlin Wins Chase To The Chase Finale

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, September 11 2016
Denny Hamlin hits the finish line to win at Richmond on Saturday night. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Alan Marler)

Denny Hamlin hits the finish line to win at Richmond on Saturday night. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Alan Marler)

RacinToday.com

Denny Hamlin won Saturday night’s Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway in an event that set the field for the 2016 Chase playoffs.

The victory came in overtime and in a race that was yellow flagged 16 times.

It was the Joe Gibbs Racing driver’s third win of the season and sends him into the Chase, which begins next weekend at Chicagoland Speedway, with the wind at his back.

Jamie McMurray of Chip Ganassi Racing locked up a spot in the Chase with a seventh-place finish, and Austin Dillon of Richard Childress Racing did likewise with a 13th-place run.

Rookies Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports and Chris Buescher both weathered some tense moments to qualify for NASCAR’s 10-race playoff.

Hamlin took control of the race when his pit crew handed him the lead under caution on Lap 322. Six cautions followed, the last of which sent the race to overtime when Regan Smith slammed the outside wall on Lap 399 of a scheduled 400.

Kyle Larson pitted for fresh tires under the yellow and streaked from 12th to second on the two-lap overtime run, but the driver of the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet didn’t have time to catch Hamlin who crossed the finish line with a margin of .609 seconds.

“That’s what’s so special about it,” Virginia native Hamlin, who started from the pole and led the last 86 laps (189 total), said of his third win at the .75-mile track and the 29th of his career. “You get to do it at home.

“I see all the extra Denny Hamlin shirts and hats and everything, and it just fires me up every time I get here. This was a great car, and hopefully we can use it in the Chase.”

Martin Truex Jr. ran third, followed by Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick. Kasey Kahne, who needed a victory to advance to the Chase, ran sixth after a hard-fought run to the finish. McMurray, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch and Joey Logano completed he top 10.

With the exception of Kahne, all top-10 finishers on Saturday will compete in the Chase.

Ryan Newman’s hopes of an eleventh-hour Chase miracle ended abruptly on Lap 363 when contact between his No. 31 Chevrolet and Tony Stewart’s No. 14 Chevy sent both cars out of control, blocking the track at the entry to Turn 3.

All told, seven cars sustained damage in the accident, but no driver was more incensed than Newman, who was racing hard with Stewart for the 10th position in a last-ditch attempt to make the Chase by winning the race.

Asked what happened, Newman said he “got Tony Stewarted”.

“The No. 14 (Stewart) cut across my nose into Turn 1, and I got into him after that, but he’d already chopped into me and messed up my line, and I clipped him a little bit coming off of (Turn) 2,” Newman said of Stewart, who was racing at Richmond for the last time in a Sprint Cup car.

“Going down the back straightaway there, I guess he thought he was in a Sprint Car again; did not know how to control his anger.

“And then he just drove across my nose on the back straightaway. We’ll keep fighting like we always do. It’s just unfortunate not to end the way we wanted to. It’s just disappointing that you’ve got somebody old like that, that should be retired the way he drives. It’s just ridiculous.”

Stewart had a different perspective.

“That was the third time he’d driven into me during the night, and how many times does a guy get a free pass until you’ve had enough of it?” said the three-time champion.  “He’s got to do his part racing for a championship, too, and to race to get in there, and if you’re going to run into guys – I go into (Turn) 1 and he dive bombs in there.

“I’m already coming down, so it’s not like I was trying to squeeze him in the infield or something. Ryan and I have been good friends. I don’t do that to him. But he hits me in 1, he hits me off of 2, and it’s like the third time by that time. There was once early in the race that nobody saw. Three times, that’s two more times than I normally let somebody run into me.”

And as to Newman’s suggestion Stewart should be retired already?

“He’ll get his wish in 10 weeks,” Stewart said. “He’ll get his wish. Maybe next year without us here, he’ll get his spot in the Chase that way.”

The Lap 363 pileup that ended Newman’s Chase hopes—and ended with Dylan Lupton’s Toyota on the hood of Newman’s car—also locked Buescher into NASCAR’s playoff with the elimination of Ragan from the race.

The 16-driver Chase lineup with reseeded points in parenthesis: Kyle Busch (2012), Brad Keselowski (2012), Denny Hamlin (2009), Kevin Harvick (2006), Carl Edwards (2006), Truex (2006), Matt Kenseth (2006), Jimmie Johnson (2006), Joey Logano (2003), Kyle Larson (2003), Tony Stewart (2003), Kurt Busch (2003), Chris Buescher (2003), Chase Elliott (2000), Austin Dillon (2000) and Jamie McMurray (2000).

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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race – Federated Auto Parts 400

Richmond International Raceway

Richmond, Virginia

Saturday, September 10, 2016

  1. (1) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 407.
  2. (2) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 407.
  3. (6) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 407.
  4. (17) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 407.
  5. (19) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 407.
  6. (7) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 407.
  7. (4) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 407.
  8. (5) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 407.
  9. (9) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 407.
  10. (12) Joey Logano, Ford, 407.
  11. (10) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 407.
  12. (27) Michael McDowell, Chevrolet, 407.
  13. (8) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 407.
  14. (18) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 407.
  15. (29) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 407.
  16. (11) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 407.
  17. (23) Aric Almirola, Ford, 407.
  18. (22) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 407.
  19. (34) Chase Elliott #, Chevrolet, 407.
  20. (16) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 407.
  21. (26) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, 407.
  22. (33) Clint Bowyer, Chevrolet, 407.
  23. (28) Greg Biffle, Ford, 407.
  24. (31) Chris Buescher #, Ford, 407.
  25. (39) Dylan Lupton(i), Toyota, 406.
  26. (38) * Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 404.
  27. (40) Jeffrey Earnhardt #, Ford, 403.
  28. (15) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 402.
  29. (24) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, Accident, 397.
  30. (36) * Josh Wise, Chevrolet, 396.
  31. (37) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 390.
  32. (13) Carl Edwards, Toyota, Suspension, 366.
  33. (14) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, Accident, 363.
  34. (21) David Ragan, Toyota, Accident, 362.
  35. (35) Brian Scott #, Ford, Accident, 362.
  36. (32) Landon Cassill, Ford, 358.
  37. (25) * Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, Accident, 352.
  38. (3) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, Accident, 335.
  39. (20) * Ryan Blaney #, Ford, 279.
  40. (30) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, Accident, 264.

 

Average Speed of Race Winner:  85.778 mph.

Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 31 Mins, 33 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.609 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  16 for 89 laps.

Lead Changes:  21 among 7 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   D. Hamlin 1-12; J. Earnhardt # 13-14; D. Hamlin 15-51; M. Truex Jr. 52-85; M. Kenseth 86; Kurt Busch 87; D. Hamlin 88-100; M. Truex Jr. 101-202; M. Kenseth 203; M. Truex Jr. 204-222; D. Hamlin 223; M. Truex Jr. 224-228; Kurt Busch 229-230; M. Truex Jr. 231-245; M. Kenseth 246; R. Smith 247-248; D. Hamlin 249-267; K. Larson 268-271; D. Hamlin 272-292; K. Larson 293-303; M. Truex Jr. 304-321; D. Hamlin 322-407.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  M. Truex Jr. 6 times for 193 laps; D. Hamlin 7 times for 189 laps; K. Larson 2 times for 15 laps; M. Kenseth 3 times for 3 laps; Kurt Busch 2 times for 3 laps; J. Earnhardt # 1 time for 2 laps; R. Smith 1 time for 2 laps.

Top 16 in Points: K. Harvick – 876; B. Keselowski – 834; J. Logano – 783; D. Hamlin – 773; Kurt Busch – 762; Kyle Busch – 759; C. Edwards – 755; M. Truex Jr. – 736; J. Johnson – 686; C. Elliott # – 681; A. Dillon – 679; J. Mcmurray – 676; M. Kenseth – 673; K. Larson – 646; R. Newman – 633; K. Kahne – 633.

 

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, September 11 2016
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