Denny Hamlin Dominates To Win In Kansas; Round Of 8 Field Set In NASCAR Playoffsby Hunter Thomas October 20, 2019 0 comments
SPARTA, Kan. – Denny Hamlin held off the field in NASCAR Overtime to win Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.
Hamlin had to survive two late-race cautions before taking the checkered flag and winning his fifth race of the season. The 38-year-old driver of the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota started the race in 11th and led a race high of 153 laps in the 227-lap race. Hamlin was challenged by Chase Elliott in the closing laps. Elliott had to advance to the Round of 8 based on points or of course, win Sunday’s race.
Prior to Sunday’s win, Hamlin and his team performed well in the Round of 12, finishing fifth at Dover and third at Talladega. Now, Hamlin looks forward to Martinsville Speedway where has five wins, 14 top-five and 20 top-10 finishes in 27 starts.
“This is a great feeling,” Hamlin said. “That car was awesome to dominate that whole second half. I have to thank everybody who pushed me on the restarts, Kyle (Busch), the 9 (Chase Elliott) at the end. Good to see him (Chase Elliott) make it by points anyway. But, hey, I’m just really happy for this whole FedEx team. It’s been great. Been running really good. Cannot wait to get to Martinsville.”
Elliott held on to a runner-up finish; however, it wasn’t the easiest of efforts for the Hendrick Motorsports No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet team. Elliott and Brad Keselowski were both on the bubble to advance in the NASCAR Playoffs, and as the laps ticked away, the two drivers who were on opposite ends of the pack, swapped being in and out of the Round of 8. Keselowski’s pit crew got him back into contention, but on the final lap of the race, he slipped back to 19th, solidifying a playoff spot for Elliott.
“Obviously, three points is three positions, two points is two positions and one is one position,” Elliott said. “That’s pretty simple, but obviously it’s just about trying to get as many as you can get. In our case, I was under the impression that we had to win all the way up to the end of the race. It was a lot of good fortune for us there at the end, a lot of luck and just being in the right place at the right time. There was a great pit stop there at the end to put us into position.”
Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch and William Byron rounded out the top-five, followed by Martin Truex Jr., Erik Jones, Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson.
There were seven cautions for 32 laps on Sunday. The most notable caution brought out the final yellow flag of the afternoon and set the field up for a NASCAR Overtime finish. On lap 271, while racing for position, Daniel Suarez spun across the frontstretch and collected Daniel Hemric. While trying to avoid the chaos, Austin Dillon and Joey Logano collided. Logano spun across the grass, but he kept his Ford rolling. Even though he had issues late in the race, Logano will join the other seven drivers in the Round of 8.
“Nine points after three races,” Logano said, “I think every one of them matters for sure. You just have to fight for every point. I think everyone does the same thing. It is tough. You see a late race restart in Kansas and it is like, ‘Oh boy, we are about to crash some stuff.’ Because everyone is trying to get every point possible especially when cars are right on the cut line and know they have to pass three or four cars. Then it becomes a real mess. Luckily we made it.”
Drivers competing in the upcoming Round of 8 include Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney.
The Round of 8 will kickoff at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday, October 27. Live coverage of the First Data 500 will broadcast on NBCSN and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 3 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images