Alex Bowman ‘Clock Blocks’ Denny Hamlin at Martinsville

MARTINSVILLE, VIRGINIA - OCTOBER 31: Alex Bowman, driver of the #48 Ally Chevrolet, takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Cup Series Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 31, 2021 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

Denny Hamlin was in his normal spot at Martinsville Speedway Sunday, at the front of the field. Alex Bowman however would have none of it.

Bowman, running second, slipped up into Hamlin in Turn 3 with seven laps left in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Xfinity 500 sending the five-time Martinsville winner spinning and out of contention for the win after leading 103 laps.

After the races 15th and final caution for the Hamlin spin, Bowman was able to hold off playoff drivers Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski during an overtime restart for his career high 4th win of the season. Busch was able to hang on for second, followed by Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr., and William Byron.

Much of the focus wasn’t on the lead of the race, but the battle for the final 4 spots in NASCAR’s championship.

At the end of the day Martin Truex Jr. joined Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, and Hamlin as the four drivers who will race for the title in a week in Phoenix.

Larson had already locked himself in with a win at Kansas Speedway to open the final round. Sunday, he led 77 laps from pole, but two speeding penalties sent him deep into the field and left him with a 14th place finish.

Chase Elliott was the car to beat early on. Elliott led a race high 289 laps, more then he ever had in his career and swept both stages, but was spun by Brad Keselowski on lap 454 while battling for third. Keselowski needing a win still came up short in the Playoff.   Kyle Busch was also eliminated after Truex fought back after falling back through the field. His rally back to fourth was good enough to secure his spot on points and deny Busch.

Perhaps no one was as disappointed as Hamlin who had fought his way from the rear of the field after his Toyota failed pre-race inspection twice and overcame two pit road speeding penalties. His late race tangle with Bowman left him with bigger problems. Hamlin came into the day pretty secure in the points but still needed to finish 27th or better. Hamlin finished 24th.

Hamlin showed his displeasure with the final result by pulling his Toyota up to the face Bowman’s Chevy at the start finish line after the race. Bowman didn’t back down.

“I just got loose in,” Bowman said. “I got in too deep, knocked him out of the way and literally let him have the lead back. For anybody that wants to think I was trying to crash him, obviously wasn’t the case considering I literally gave up the lead at Martinsville to give it back to him.”

Hamlin had bigger problems after the spin, however. One of 8 drivers trying to secure one of the final spots in the Championship 4, needed to finish 27th or better; Hamlin finished 24th.

Bowman meanwhile scored his career high 4th win of the season and doubling his Cup career win total from the previous years.

“These last couple months have been painful,” Bowman said. “It’s been so frustrating. Honestly, our teammates have kicked our butts for quite a while now. I think Greg (crew chief Greg Ives) and myself have both been pretty down and frustrated, not understood what was going on. We weren’t doing things any differently. We weren’t approaching weekends differently. We just have been off.

“To come to a place that was probably our worst place when we started together, have such a good day, get another win, it feels great. Obviously four wins this year feels great. Wish we were in the Round of 4. We just need to figure out consistency and this team will be something really, really special.”

Aric Almirola, Kurt Busch, Erik Jones, Chris Buescher, and Joey Logano rounded out the top 10.

 

MARTINSVILLE, VIRGINIA – OCTOBER 31: Alex Bowman, driver of the #48 Ally Chevrolet, celebrates in the Ruoff Mortgage victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 31, 2021 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

NASCAR Cup Series Race Results Xfinity 500

Martinsville Speedway

Martinsville, Virginia

Sunday, October 31, 2021

  1. (13)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 501.
  2. (7)  Kyle Busch (P), Toyota, 501.
  3. (6)  Brad Keselowski (P), Ford, 501.
  4. (4)  Martin Truex Jr. (P), Toyota, 501.
  5. (11)  William Byron, Chevrolet, 501.
  6. (23)  Aric Almirola, Ford, 501.
  7. (10)  Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 501.
  8. (28)  Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 501.
  9. (15)  Chris Buescher, Ford, 501.
  10. (5)  Joey Logano (P), Ford, 501.
  11. (8)  Ryan Blaney (P), Ford, 501.
  12. (9)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, 501.
  13. (14)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 501.
  14. (1)  Kyle Larson (P), Chevrolet, 501.
  15. (21)  Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 501.
  16. (2)  Chase Elliott (P), Chevrolet, 501.
  17. (12)  Christopher Bell, Toyota, 501.
  18. (18)  Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 501.
  19. (25)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 501.
  20. (32)  Anthony Alfredo #, Ford, 501.
  21. (29)  Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 501.
  22. (22)  Chase Briscoe #, Ford, 501.
  23. (24)  Cole Custer, Ford, 501.
  24. (3)  Denny Hamlin (P), Toyota, 501.
  25. (17)  Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 501.
  26. (19)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 499.
  27. (16)  Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 498.
  28. (20)  Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 498.
  29. (30)  BJ McLeod(i), Ford, 496.
  30. (31)  Cody Ware(i), Chevrolet, 495.
  31. (35)  Justin Haley(i), Chevrolet, 492.
  32. (27)  Ryan Newman, Ford, 491.
  33. (37)  Garrett Smithley(i), Chevrolet, 490.
  34. (36)  Quin Houff, Chevrolet, 483.
  35. (33)  Josh Bilicki(i), Ford, 483.
  36. (26)  Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, Brakes, 414.
  37. (38)  Timmy Hill(i), Toyota, Engine, 206.
  38. (34)  Joey Gase(i), Chevrolet, Electrical, 10.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  70.968 mph.

Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 42 Mins, 48 Secs. Margin of Victory:  .472 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  15 for 91 laps.

Lead Changes:  15 among 7 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   K. Larson (P) 1-55;C. Elliott (P) 56-62;K. Larson (P) 63-84;C. Elliott (P) 85-199;M. Truex Jr. (P) 200-204;C. Elliott (P) 205-341;J. Logano (P) 342-350;C. Elliott (P) 351-380;A. Dillon 381-385;M. Truex Jr. (P) 386-388;D. Hamlin (P) 389-437;M. Truex Jr. (P) 438;D. Hamlin (P) 439-477;A. Bowman 478;D. Hamlin (P) 479-493;A. Bowman 494-501.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Chase Elliott (P) 4 times for 289 laps; Denny Hamlin (P) 3 times for 103 laps; Kyle Larson (P) 2 times for 77 laps; Alex Bowman 2 times for 9 laps; Martin Truex Jr. (P) 3 times for 9 laps; Joey Logano (P) 1 time for 9 laps; Austin Dillon 1 time for 5 laps.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 9,5,19,24,2,18,3,48,22,10

Stage #2 Top Ten: 9,48,24,19,11,10,20,2,18,1