Hamlin dominates, wins Xfinity race at Richmond

Denny Hamlin, driver of the #20 Hisense Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond International Raceway on April 24, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)

Denny Hamlin, driver of the #20 Hisense Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond International Raceway on April 24, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)

RICHMOND, Va.—Domination must be contagious.

Six days after Joey Logano led all 300 laps in a NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Bristol, Denny Hamlin led 248 of 250 circuits in winning Friday night’s ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond International Raceway.

The only two laps that spoiled a Hamlin no-hitter were Brian Scott’s dive bomb off Turn 4 to lead Lap 154 by inches and Elliott Sadler’s contrarian fuel strategy, which allowed him to lead Lap 226 during a cycle of green-flag pit stops before Hamlin, on fresh tires, roared back past him on Lap 227.

Aside from those fleeting moments, however, it was no contest.

“He was so fast—we had nothing for him,” said Logano, who could keep Hamlin in sight for five or six laps after a restart, only to have the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota drive away. “We had a second-place car. That’s where it was, just second place.

“I know what it feels like to be on the other end of the butt-whipping now. It’s not as much fun from this side. But congrats to them. They deserved it, obviously. We didn’t have a shot.”

In winning the 12th NASCAR XFINITY Series race of his career, his first of the season and his third at Richmond, Hamlin held leads as large as 6.5 seconds and crossed the finish line 3.719 seconds ahead of Logano, with just eight cars on the lead lap.

Regan Smith was third, followed by Erik Jones, Chase Elliott and rookie Daniel Suarez, as Joe Gibbs Racing placed three drivers in the top six (Hamlin, Jones and Suarez).

The victory was the 100th for Toyota in the XFINITY Series.

“The 100th XFINITY win for Toyota—that’s a big one,” Hamlin said. “I was able to get the 100th [NASCAR Sprint] Cup win at Loudon a few years ago for those guys and JGR. This is a big win for everyone. I’m glad to be working with Wheels again (crew chief Mike Wheeler). He put a rocket under us tonight.”

Given the way he ran on Friday, Hamlin seemed fully recovered from the neck spasms that sidelined him during last Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Bristol.

Quick action by emergency workers prevented a potential tragedy on pit road during pit stops under the second caution of the race.

A spark ignited spilled fuel behind the car of Brendan Gaughan, engulfing rear tire changer Anthony O’Brien in a fireball that was quickly extinguished, Nevertheless, O’Brien, Gaughan’s fueler, Josh Wittman, and Clifford Turner, a crew member form Eric McClure’s team were taken to a local hospital for treatment and observation as a result of the incident.

Note: Series leader Ty Dillon finished ninth and holds an eight-point lead over second-place Elliott, the defending series champion. Chris Buescher, who entered the event tied with Dillon, finished 20th and fell to third in the standings, 11 points back.

NASCAR XFINITY Series Race – ToyotaCare 250

Richmond International Raceway

Richmond, Virginia

Friday, April 24, 2015

1. (1) Denny Hamlin(i), Toyota, 250, $53835.

2. (2) Joey Logano(i), Ford, 250, $35480.

3. (8) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 250, $34901.

4. (3) Erik Jones(i), Toyota, 250, $32289.

5. (7) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 250, $29956.

6. (9) Daniel Suarez #, Toyota, 250, $28236.

7. (5) Brian Scott, Chevrolet, 250, $26792.

8. (13) Austin Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 250, $20702.

9. (15) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 249, $26175.

10. (21) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 249, $28974.

11. (16) Brendan Gaughan, Chevrolet, 249, $25720.

12. (11) Darrell Wallace Jr. #, Ford, 249, $25620.

13. (10) Brennan Poole, Chevrolet, 249, $25518.

14. (26) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 249, $25467.

15. (4) Aric Almirola(i), Ford, 249, $19992.

16. (17) Elliott Sadler, Ford, 249, $25316.

17. (28) Ross Chastain #, Chevrolet, 248, $25113.

18. (6) Kevin Harvick(i), Chevrolet, 248, $19012.

19. (32) JJ Yeley, Toyota, 248, $24937.

20. (12) Chris Buescher, Ford, 247, $25386.

21. (14) Ryan Reed, Ford, 247, $24836.

22. (23) Harrison Rhodes #, Chevrolet, 246, $24755.

23. (20) Mike Bliss, Toyota, 246, $24678.

24. (25) Blake Koch, Toyota, 246, $24603.

25. (30) Cale Conley #, Toyota, 246, $24677.

26. (36) Joey Gase, Chevrolet, 246, $24477.

27. (18) Dakoda Armstrong, Ford, 246, $24426.

28. (22) Dylan Lupton, Chevrolet, 246, $24351.

29. (33) David Starr, Toyota, 245, $24299.

30. (29) Brandon Gdovic, Chevrolet, 245, $24549.

31. (19) Ryan Sieg, Chevrolet, 244, $24173.

32. (37) Peyton Sellers #, Chevrolet, 241, $24112.

33. (34) Jimmy Weller, Chevrolet, 240, $24072.

34. (38) Carlos Contreras, Chevrolet, 238, $17961.

35. (39) Derrike Cope, Chevrolet, 234, $17881.

36. (35) Eric McClure, Toyota, Fuel Pump, 205, $22199.

37. (31) Carl Long, Dodge, Brakes, 43, $15199.

38. (27) Timmy Hill(i), Toyota, Engine, 31, $20199.

39. (40) Mike Harmon, Dodge, Engine, 3, $13199.

40. (24) Jeff Green, Toyota, Rear Gear, 2, $12199.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  101.55 mph.

Time of Race:  1 Hrs, 50 Mins, 47 Secs. Margin of Victory:  3.719 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  3 for 24 laps.

Lead Changes:  4 among 3 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   D. Hamlin(i) 1-153; B. Scott 154; D. Hamlin(i) 155-225; E. Sadler 226; D. Hamlin(i) 227-250.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  D. Hamlin(i) 3 times for 248 laps; E. Sadler 1 time for 1 lap; B. Scott 1 time for 1 lap.

Top 10 in Points: T. Dillon – 293; C. Elliott – 285; C. Buescher – 282; D. Wallace Jr. # – 268; R. Smith – 252; B. Gaughan – 244; E. Sadler – 244; R. Reed – 243; B. Scott – 243; D. Suarez # – 240.

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