Denny Hamlin scored the 26th win of his career Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway. Hamlin survived a record 16 caution flags and completed a perfect restart on a green-white-checkered flag restart to win for the third time at the track he considers his home track. Here’s how it all went down Saturday night at Richmond.
From his first pole of the season, and his third at Richmond, Hamlin led the field to the green. Kyle Larson was on the front row with a second place starting spot.
Hamlin leapt out to a big lead at the start, as Larson dueled with Matt Kenneth for second; Larson had second by the end of the first lap. Jamie McMurray was fourth, Kurt Busch fifth. Kenseth took second from Larson on lap 4.
Ryan Blaney got into the wall in turn 2 on lap 11 and the first caution came out. Blaney’s crew was reporting his car was smoking; there was heavy damage and Blaney went to the garage.
Pit road opened and the leaders all pitted. Hamlin was out first, Larson second, followed by Kenseth, McMurray and Kyle Busch.
Chase Elliott had an issue on pit road; after starting 34th, Elliott had to re-pit and restarted 38th.
Green came back out on lap 17. Hamlin went back to the front, Larson was again fighting Kenseth for second; Kenseth had the spot by the end of the lap. Kyle Busch settled into fourth, Martin Truex Jr. moved to fifth.
Kenseth was soon at the back of Hamlin and looking for the lead by lap 39 as Hamlin was starting to lap the back of the field. Behind Larson was dropping back; Truex had moved to third, Kyle Busch was fourth, McMurray fifth, Larson was seventh behind Austin Dillon.
Truex took second on lap 46 as Kenseth began to slip back. He took the lead on lap 52 in heavy lapped traffic. By lap 61 his lead was 1.5 seconds. Kenseth took second from Hamlin on lap 71. Truex had stretched his lead out to nearly 4 seconds. By lap 77 there were 24 cars on the lead lap. Larson had dropped to eighth.
Caution tow came out on lap 85 when AJ Allmendinger got loose exiting four and spun on the frontstretch. The leaders all pitted. Hamlin was out first, followed by Truex, Kyle Busch and Kenseth. Tony Stewart was spun on pit road in his stall and the crew pitted the car backwards.
Kasey Kahne and Jimmie Johnson were penalized for speeding. Kurt Busch missed his pit stall and had to come back in.
Hamlin took the lead when green came back out on lap 92; Truex settled into second, Kenseth was third
Elliott on the high side was hit by the car of Jeff Gordon who was in the middle and was tapped y Ryan Newman below in turn 3. Elliott exited turn 4 and was pushed up. He hit the wall on the frontstretch with a flat tire on lap 96 and the third caution came out. Elliott was damaged but able to continue.
Green came back out on lap 101. Hamlin and Truex were side by side for the lead with Truex able to get the lead on the outside as they crossed the line to start lap 102. Kenseth was third, Kyle Busch fourth, Brad Keselowski fifth. Kenseth went to second on lap 105. McMurray went to fifth on lap 109.
Truex ha d a lead of 1.8 seconds by lap 134. Keselowski went to fourth passing Kyle Busch on lap 150. McMurray moved into fifth on lap 155. Kurt Busch passed McMurray on lap 16 for fifth. There were 19 cars on the lead lap.
By lap 171 green flag stops loomed and Truex had a lead approaching six seconds. Those green flag stops started in lap 193 deeper in the field. Hamlin pitted on lap 187; Kenseth followed as did Truex. Truex blocked Newman in on pit road loosing several spots. Larson re-pitted on lap 194 with a possible loose wheel.
When the stops cycled through, Truex led by just over three seconds, Kenseth was second, Hamlin third. Johnson who had yet to pit, lost a right front tire smacked the frontstretch wall on lap 201 while running 10th and caution four flew.
The leaders all pitted. Truex was out first, Hamlin second, Kenseth third followed by Kurt Busch and Keselowski.
Green came back out on lap 212. Truex went to the lead, Hamlin fell in close behind in second, Kurt Busch lurked in third. By lap 213, Kurt Busch had second. Kenseth was fourth, Keselowski fifth.
Debris on the frontstretch brought out caution 5 on lap 223.
The leaders all pitted. Truex was out first, Kurt Busch second, followed by Hamlin, Keselowski and Kyle Busch. Keselowski was penalized for speeding on pit road. He restarted 18th.
Truex and Kurt Busch were side by side when green came out on lap 228; Busch got the lead on lap 229; Hamlin was third, Kyle Busch fourth, Kenseth fifth.
Truex retook the lead on lap 232. Kyle Busch had third by lap 233, and was second getting by his brother a lap later. Kenseth went to third on lap 237; Hamlin followed. Kurt Busch had fallen to sixth by lap 240.
David Ragan lost a right front tire on lap 244 and caution six came out. Once gain the leaders pitted. Hamlin was first off pit road, Kenseth was second followed by Carl Edwards, Kurt Busch and Truex. Kenseth was penalized for an uncontrolled tire; Kevin Harvick for speeding. Both were sent to the rear. Truex had an issue with an air gun on his stop.
The top five on the restart on lap 251 were Hamlin, Edwards, Kurt Busch, Truex and Kyle Busch.
Hamlin snagged the lead, Busch second, Edwards took third. Kyle Busch got fourth in front of Truex.
Kurt Busch was trying grab the leaf by lap 256. Truex took fourth on lap 259. By lap 262, Hamlin was stretching out his lead.
Paul Menard spun after contact with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and hit the wall entering turn 1 on lap 265 and caution seven flew. The leaders all pitted. Kyle Larson was out first with only two tires Hamlin was second, followed by Kurt Busch, Truex and Gordon.
Truex was penalized for speeding and sent to the back of the field; he restarted 27th when the green flew on lap 272. Larson took the lead briefly, but Hamlin shot by and retook the lead, Kurt Busch followed as did Edwards and soon Larson was fourth. Keselowski was looking for fifth from Gordon on lap 276; Keselowski had the spot by lap 278. He took fourth from Larson soon after.
On lap 279, Casey Mears and Matt DiBenedetto made contact. DiBenedetto punted him, Mears spun and caution eight came out.
The leaders with the exception of Larson stayed out. Larson and several behind pitted. Most teams only had two sets of new tires left.
Green came out on lap 285 the top 13 cars on the track had stayed out. Hamlin held off Kurt Busch for the lead. Edwards was third, Keselowski fourth, Kyle Busch fifth. Larson with new tires as sixth by lap 286; he took fifth on lap 289.
Keselowski was looking for third by lap 290. Michael Annett hit the wall entering turn 1 on lap 292 and caution nine came out. This time the leaders, save for Larson, all pitted. Hamlin was out first, Kurt Busch second followed by Edwards, Kenseth and Keselowski.
Larson stayed out as did Kahne and Truex, Johnson, Greg Biffle, and Regan smith.
The restart came on lap 297; Larson took the lead, Kahne and Truex fell into line behind. Turex went to second on a lap 301; Hamlin was up to fourth by lap 300 and third on lap 303.
Truex retook the lead on lap 304.
Chris Buescher pitted under green on lap 309 reporting a possible tire going down. The crew confirmed a right front tire was going down.
Kenseth went to fourth on lap 310. Kurt Busch fifth. Kenseth took third on lap 313. Kurt Busch was fifth behind Larson.
Caution 10 came out when Edwards lost a tire and spun in turn 1 on lap 320. The leaders all pitted. Hamlin was out first, Truex second, followed by Kenseth, Kurt Busch and Joey Logano. Elliott and Newman were penalized for speeding.
Green came out on lap 326; Hamlin went to the lead, Truex was close behind.
Allmendinger lost another tire and caution 11 came out before the lap ended. Green came out on lap 332. Hamlin restarted on the outside, Truex on the inside. Hamlin was finally able to clear Truex for the lead, Kurt Busch slid into third. Keselowski took third a lap later.
Kenseth hit the wall hard on lap 336 and caution 12 came out. His race was over but he was okay.
The leaders all stayed out.
The green came back out on lap 343; Hamlin restarted on the inside this time, with Truex on the outside. Hamlin went back to the lead, Truex second. Keselowski and Larson fought for third side by side.
Allmendinger spun again on the frontstretch and caution 13 was displayed on lap 346.
The lead lap cars stayed out with the exception of Biffle who used his last set of new tires.
There was 50 laps to go when the green came out. Hamlin on the inside retook the lead, Larson followed into second, Truex fell into third. Kyle Busch and Keselowski dueled for fourth side by side.
DiBenedetto lost a tire entering turn 1 on lap 353 and caution 14 flew. The leaders all stayed out; Kahne pitted from just outside the top 10.
Hamlin again led on the restart on lap 361. Larson took second from the outside, Truex fell into third.. Keselowski and Kyle Busch contested the spots behind.
Behind the leaders a huge crash erupted. NASCAR quickly displayed the red flag. The crash started when Newman and Stewart got together coming down the backstretch; Edwards was just behind; Newman and Edwards shot back up the track sweeping up Dylan Lupton, Ragan, and Brian Scott. The car of Lupton ended up on the top of Newman’s car, while Stewart’s car rolled to a stop on fire on the frontstretch ; Stewart was able to exit his car uninjured. Ragan’s car was also on fire but it was quickly extinguished.
The red flag was out for 20 minutes and 23 seconds.
The top four stayed out; Keselowski led a group in from fifth on back. Newman came back out of the garage before the green came out on lap 368.
Hamlin took the lad while three cars behind went three wide. When it sorted out, Kyle Busch was second, Larson third, Truex fourth, McMurray fifth. Behind it was a wild scramble for the rest of the top 10. Truex took third on lap 376. He went to second two laps later.
With 15 laps to go, Hamlin’s lead was nearing 1.5 seconds. Kahne and Larson were fighting for fifth with 14 laps to go. Kahne had the spot with 12 laps to go.
The lead was nearing two seconds, with 6 laps to go.
Regan Smith crashed hard in turn 4 with 2 laps to go and a record breaking caution number 16 came out and set up an overtime finish.
Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson led a group behind the top three to pit. Kyle Busch restarted 12th.
Up front it was Hamlin, Truex, Keselowski, Kahne, Kurt Bush and Kevin Harvick.
Hamlin rocketed to the lad as the field bunched up behind. Biffle spun but the green stayed out. On the final lap, Hamlin had checked out, but Larson on fresh tires charged up to second; Truex was third, Keselowski fourth and Harvick fifth.
Kahne was scored sixth, McMurray seventh, followed by Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, and Joey Logano rounding out the top 10. The full results can be found here.
The first race in the Chase will be next Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400. Live coverage will be on the NBC Sports Network starting at 2:00 p.m. with the green flag coming just after 2:30 p.m.