Denny Hamlin Passes Matt DiBenedetto Late To Win Night Race At Bristolby Camille Jones August 17, 2019 0 comments
BRISTOL, Tenn. – Denny Hamlin claimed his fourth Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win of 2019 with a victory from the pole in Saturday night’s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The Cinderella story that wasn’t meant to be almost came true Saturday night for Matt DiBenedetto, who drove with a valiant effort to a second-place finish just days after learning he would not return to his Leavine Family Racing No. 95 car next season.
In the closing laps of the race, Hamlin pulled off the race-winning pass on DiBenedetto with just 12 laps to go after a relentless battle through heavy lapped traffic. The win continued Hamlin’s impressive performance late in the regular season. He has now pieced together six consecutive top-five finishes.
“I’m so sorry to Matt DiBenedetto, Mike Wheeler,” Hamlin said. “I hate it. I mean, I know a win would mean a lot to that team. I have to give it 110% for FedEx and my whole team. Just sorry.”
Hamlin continued and said, “Proud of this whole FedEx team for giving me a great car, pit crew, crew chief, everybody doing an amazing job. Jordan, all the girls at home. Just the whole team is just doing an amazing job right now. They’re just kicking ass.”
DiBenedetto led 93 laps in Saturday night’s event, pulling away from the field in a dominant performance in the final stage. Lapped traffic held up the No. 95 in the closing laps as he weaved his way with laps winding down. After contact while trying to put Ryan Newman a lap down, DiBenedetto’s lead began to dwindle.
“I wanted to win so bad for these guys, for this team, for them giving me this opportunity,” said DiBenedetto. “I’m just thankful that they gave me this opportunity, Toyota, Procore, Dumont Jets. I’m so thankful. But, man, I’m sad. We got tight after the deal with Newman when he came up into us. All of a sudden it got really tight after that. Congrats to Denny. He raced hard. I’ve been a fan of his since I was a kid. To be racing door‑to‑door with him at Bristol, in front of a great group of fans…”
DiBenedetto continued and said, “I’ll try not to get emotional, but it’s been a tough week. I just want to stick around and keep doing this for a long time to come. I love it. I love the opportunity. I’m not done yet. Something will come open. It’s going to happen. I’m here to win. Something’s going to come open. I’m proud of these guys. Thankful for my wife and fans for sticking with me. It’s been a tough journey, a hard week. Cool for this team.”
Brad Keselowski earned the third-place finish on Saturday. Kyle Busch finished in fourth, followed by Chase Elliott in fifth. Kyle Larson, Clint Bowyer, Daniel Suarez, Kurt Busch and Ryan Blaney rounded out the to-10 in the finishing order.
There were eight cautions for a total of 61 laps under yellow in the 500-lap race.
The biggest incident of the night brought out the caution on lap 374, when Ryan Blaney’s tire went down instantly, sending him into the wall and collecting Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the process, as well as David Ragan, Michael McDowell and Jimmie Johnson all also receiving damage.
Kyle Busch currently leads the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series standings over Denny Hamlin by 39 points with two races remaining before the NASCAR Playoffs.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series returns to competition at Darlington Raceway on Sunday, Sept. 1 at 6 p.m. ET for the Bojangles’ Southern 500. Live coverage will broadcast on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) and the Motor Racing Network (MRN).
Photo Credit: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com