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Hamlin Out-Drags Byron To Get Xfinity Win

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, June 17 2017

Denny Hamlin celebrates his victory Saturday at Michigan International Speedway. (RacinToday/HHP photo Ashley R Dickerson)

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Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin won a drag race to the finish line against William Byron to win his first NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Michigan International Speedway on Saturday.

“We were battling really hard, and Denny just schooled me there at the end,” said Byron, who held the lead in the No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet after a restart with two laps left and crossed the finish line .012 seconds behind the race winner. “I thought I could side-draft him back to the line, but I needed a few more feet.”

The margin was the closest Series finish at Michigan since the advent of electronic timing and scoring more than two decades ago and tied for the sixth closest overall with the 2010 event at the Montreal road course.

For Hamlin, the win was the first in the series in his fourth start since taking the checkered flag at Charlotte in May 2016. Hamlin picked up his second victory in the series at Michigan and the 16th of his career.

Hamlin pushed Byron to the lead past Brad Keselowski after a restart on Lap 117, but Byron began to pull away until a caution for Matt Tifft’s spin through the infield grass on Lap 120 brought out the seventh and final caution of the afternoon.

An alumnus of the NASCAR Next program, Byron again pulled ahead after the restart on Lap 124, with Hamlin in close pursuit. They battled for two laps before Hamlin used his experience to get Byron’s No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet loose through the final two corners.

“He did a great job, and really I knew he had a really good car,” Hamlin said of his 19-year-old rival. “That last long run that we had (before the sixth caution for debris on Lap 112), he was about to pass me, so he’s done a great job. Obviously, he’s one of NASCAR’s next future superstars, and I wanted to race him clean.

“I wasn’t going to turn him around or anything like that, so I stayed low below him and got him a little bit loose through (Turns) 1 and 2 that allowed me to get position and then into Turn 3 we both got sideways, he slid up just enough to let me barely get to that left rear and it was just enough to drag race past him, so proud of this team. Great that we got a win.”

Elliott Sadler, who won the second 30-lap stage on Saturday, finished third and took over the series lead by 21-points over Justin Allgaier, who lost track position making extra pit stops to deal with hood pins that came loose during the race. Allgaier finished 16th.

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NASCAR XFINITY Series Race – Irish Hills 250

Michigan International Speedway

Brooklyn, Michigan

Saturday, June 17, 2017

  1. (5) Denny Hamlin(i), Toyota, 125.
  2. (4) William Byron #, Chevrolet, 125.
  3. (3) Elliott Sadler, Chevrolet, 125.
  4. (2) Brad Keselowski(i), Ford, 125.
  5. (1) Kyle Busch(i), Toyota, 125.
  6. (17) Ty Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 125.
  7. (10) Paul Menard(i), Chevrolet, 125.
  8. (20) Ryan Reed, Ford, 125.
  9. (11) Brandon Jones, Chevrolet, 125.
  10. (7) Cole Custer #, Ford, 125.
  11. (15) Brennan Poole, Chevrolet, 125.
  12. (16) Daniel Hemric #, Chevrolet, 125.
  13. (6) Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 125.
  14. (23) Brendan Gaughan, Chevrolet, 125.
  15. (18) Ryan Sieg, Chevrolet, 125.
  16. (22) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 125.
  17. (13) Blake Koch, Chevrolet, 125.
  18. (8) Spencer Gallagher #, Chevrolet, 125.
  19. (24) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 125.
  20. (28) Dakoda Armstrong, Toyota, 125.
  21. (38) David Starr, Chevrolet, 125.
  22. (27) Harrison Rhodes, Chevrolet, 125.
  23. (19) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 125.
  24. (30) Dylan Lupton, Toyota, 125.
  25. (35) Joey Gase, Chevrolet, 124.
  26. (14) Matt Tifft #, Toyota, 124.
  27. (32) Josh Bilicki, Chevrolet, 123.
  28. (34) Tommy Joe Martins, Chevrolet, 122.
  29. (26) Garrett Smithley, Chevrolet, 122.
  30. (29) BJ McLeod, Chevrolet, 122.
  31. (33) Korbin Forrister(i), Chevrolet, 122.
  32. (40) Mike Harmon, Dodge, 120.
  33. (31) Brandon Brown, Chevrolet, 118.
  34. (36) Josh Williams, Chevrolet, Electrical, 66.
  35. (25) Jeff Green, Chevrolet, Vibration, 44.
  36. (12) Ben Kennedy, Chevrolet, Accident, 41.
  37. (9) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, Accident, 38.
  38. (21) JJ Yeley, Toyota, Accident, 37.
  39. (39) Timmy Hill, Toyota, Steering, 20.
  40. (37) Morgan Shepherd, Chevrolet, Suspension, 19.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  124.671 mph.

Time of Race:  02 Hrs, 00 Mins, 19 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.012 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  7 for 32 laps.

Lead Changes:  10 among 5 drivers.

Lap Leaders:    0; B. Keselowski(i) 1-32; D. Hamlin(i) 33; C. Custer # 34-48; B. Keselowski(i) 49-57; E. Sadler 58-70; B. Keselowski(i) 71-83; E. Sadler 84; D. Hamlin(i) 85-116; W. Byron # 117-124; D. Hamlin(i) 125;.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  B. Keselowski(i) 3 times for 54 laps; D. Hamlin(i) 3 times for 34 laps; C. Custer # 1 time for 15 laps; E. Sadler 2 times for 14 laps; W. Byron # 1 time for 8 laps.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 22,20,1,2,9,42,23,3,00,7

Stage #2 Top Ten: 1,48,7,62,11,33,4,01,92,20

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, June 17 2017
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