Denny Hamlin Wins Sixth Darlington Xfinity Series Victory In NASCAR Overtimeby Hunter Thomas September 2, 2023 1 comment
DARLINGTON, S.C. – Denny Hamlin got the best of Austin Hill in NASCAR Overtime at Darlington Raceway to win the Sport Clips Haircuts VFW Help a Hero 200, his sixth series victory at the track, Too Tough To Tame.
Joe Gibbs Racing was the class of the field on Saturday, but Austin Hill had something to say about that in the closing laps. With 10 laps to go, Hill had a commanding lead over the field, but with four laps to go, Parker Kligerman spun off the nose of Sam Mayer, and field bunched up for a final restart.
In NASCAR Overtime, Hill restarted on the inside with Hamlin to his outside. When the green flag flew, hill spun his tires, and opened the door for Hamlin to drive to Victory Lane in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 Sport Clips Haircut Toyota. Not only was the victory his sixth in the series at the track, but he also won the Darlington race back in May.
“It took a while,” said Hamlin about finding his rhythm. “I really needed some long runs, but I really didn’t want to show everything we had until the very end of the race there. We really did a good job of maintaining what we had and man, it was going to be cool to see that race play out, but still it was a great win.”
Hamlin has historically finished well at Darlington, both in the Xfinity and Cup Series. Although his seat time from Saturday won’t help with Sunday, he said that the track just really fit his driving style.
“Man, it just suits my driving style really,” Hamlin said. “I don’t know how else to explain it than I feel like you can manipulate the car to do the things you really need it to if it’s not perfect. And, a driver, when he feels like he can make a difference, you like the race track.”
Hill was looking for his third win of the season but finished second, earning his first top-five since early August. On the final restart, Hill debated on going to the top or the bottom for the restart, and ultimately, he chose the bottom.
“I felt like the inside lane was kind of getting the jump for the majority of the day, so I kind of wanted to go bottom,” Hill said. “I was torn on the last restart knowing Denny was starting beside me if I wanted to go bottom or top. There at the last second, I actually thought about going top and then just went bottom because that’s what I had been doing the last couple of restarts. My biggest issue was I just kept spinning tires all day.
Third-place finisher, John Hunter Nemechek dominated most of the day, winning Stages 1 and 2. On the NASCAR Overtime restart, he was lined up behind Hamlin on the high side, but he was only able to improve one more position as he passed Josh Berry.
“I’m just frustrated with myself,” Nemechek said. “I didn’t make the right adjustment the last stop and it’s on me. I said I didn’t need an adjustment and probably did. It sucks coming up short here twice with such fast Toyota GR Supras both times. We’ll keep plugging. Solid points day for us. Gained some points back on the 21 (Austin Hill), I think that puts us back to second in points as well. Go to Kansas next week to finish out the regular season and hope to go win all three stages instead of two.”
Cole Custer and Berry rounded out the top-five. Riley Herbst finished sixth, followed by Justin Allgaier, Sheldon Creed, Kyle Busch and Daniel Hemric.
There were 15 lead changes among five drivers. Nemechek led a race high of 99 laps.
There were also seven cautions for 34 laps as well.
Hill continues to lead the standings by 23 points over Nemechek.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series will visit Kansas Speedway on Saturday, September 9 for the Kansas Lottery 300. Live coverage will broadcast on NBC at 3 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: Hunter Thomas/TheFourthTurn.com