“Throwback move” puts Denny Hamlin in Victory Lane at Darlington

DARLINGTON, SC - SEPTEMBER 02: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #18 Sport Clips Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Sports Clips Haircuts VFW 200 at Darlington Raceway on September 2, 2017 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

DARLINGTON, S.C. – On a throwback weekend at Darlington Raceway, with a move he termed “a throwback to Dale Earnhardt,” Denny Hamlin won his fifth NASCAR Xfinity Series event at the Lady in Black—all from the pole.

The driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota grabbed the lead from Joey Logano after a restart on Lap 147 of 148—one beyond the scheduled distance—and when Logano got inside position on the final circuit and surged ahead into Turn 3, Hamlin responded with a crossover move, retook the top spot off Turn 4 and won a drag race to the finish line.

“I didn’t anticipate the 22 (Logano) getting back to us like that,” said Hamlin, who has finished either first or second in his last eight starts at Darlington. “I think that was a throwback to Dale Earnhardt in (Turns) 3 and 4.”

Logano trailed Hamlin at the stripe by .185 seconds.

“I got underneath him off of (Turn) 2 there coming to the last lap,” Logano said. “I went into (Turn) 3. He knew my play. I knew his play. He knew I was going to slide up. That was kind of the only one I had, so he checked up and turned down underneath me.

“I was hoping I would get to the wall and carry some momentum. Maybe I should have just kept it to the wood and rode the wall, I don’t know, but overall I guess second always stinks, but probably a pretty good finish considering where we were in practice and where we qualified (10th). We maximized our day. I just wish it was a win.”

Kevin Harvick finished third despite leading 54 laps—second only to Logano’s 58—and winning the first two stages of the race. A disastrous restart on Lap 142, after the eighth caution for Dakoda Armstrong’s spin in Turn 2, buried Harvick in fifth-place for the final green flag.

“It just didn’t wind up working out there at the end,” Harvick said. “I wound up on the bottom, and I kept my foot in it over there, got loose underneath the 20 (Erik Jones). We weren’t the strongest for five or 10 laps, and that didn’t really work out with that short run there at the end, and we got stuck on the bottom.

“We got loose and then we got freight-trained, but just a great car. It wound up being a great race, and that’s all you can ask for.”

Jones came home fourth, followed by William Byron and Brennan Poole.

Both Brennan Poole and Daniel Hemric join Elliott Sadler, William Byron, Justin Allgaier and Ryan Reed as the six drivers that have clinched spots in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoffs early.

Elliott Sadler’s crash into the Turn 1 wall caused the final caution on Lap 143 and postponed the veteran driver’s regular-season-championship clinching party at least until Richmond next weekend. Sadler finished 33rd but still holds a 91-point lead over second-place Byron in the series standings.

NASCAR Xfinity Series Race Results Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200

Darlington Raceway

Darlington, South Carolina

Saturday, September 2, 2017

1. (1) Denny Hamlin(i), Toyota, 148.

2. (10) Joey Logano(i), Ford, 148.

3. (2) Kevin Harvick(i), Ford, 148.

4. (11) Erik Jones(i), Toyota, 148.

5. (6) William Byron #, Chevrolet, 148.

6. (8) Brennan Poole, Chevrolet, 148.

7. (5) Ty Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 148.

8. (13) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 148.

9. (4) Cole Custer #, Ford, 148.

10. (9) Austin Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 148.

11. (18) Blake Koch, Chevrolet, 148.

12. (15) Ben Kennedy #, Chevrolet, 148.

13. (19) Brendan Gaughan, Chevrolet, 148.

14. (16) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 148.

15. (17) Ryan Reed, Ford, 148.

16. (12) Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 148.

17. (21) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 148.

18. (3) Daniel Hemric #, Chevrolet, 148.

19. (22) JJ Yeley, Toyota, 148.

20. (31) Brandon Brown, Chevrolet, 148.

21. (25) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 148.

22. (26) Ryan Sieg, Chevrolet, 148.

23. (27) Brandon Jones, Chevrolet, 148.

24. (36) Harrison Rhodes, Chevrolet, 148.

25. (29) Ray Black II, Chevrolet, 148.

26. (32) Garrett Smithley, Chevrolet, 148.

27. (33) BJ McLeod, Chevrolet, 148.

28. (34) Joey Gase, Chevrolet, 148.

29. (24) Dakoda Armstrong, Toyota, 147.

30. (23) Dylan Lupton, Toyota, 147.

31. (37) Tommy Joe Martins, Chevrolet, 145.

32. (30) Timmy Hill, Dodge, 145.

33. (7) Elliott Sadler, Chevrolet, Accident, 142.

34. (20) Spencer Gallagher #, Chevrolet, Accident, 140.

35. (40) Mike Harmon, Dodge, 135.

36. (35) David Starr, Chevrolet, 132.

37. (39) Morgan Shepherd, Chevrolet, Fuel Pump, 51.

38. (38) Carl Long, Dodge, Handling, 29.

39. (28) Jeff Green, Chevrolet, Rear Gear, 8.

40. (14) Matt Tifft #, Toyota, Accident, 1.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  108.256 mph.

Time of Race:  1 Hrs, 52 Mins, 03 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.185 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  9 for 33 laps.

Lead Changes:  11 among 5 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   D. Hamlin(i) 1-29; K. Harvick(i) 30-47; E. Sadler 48; M. Shepherd 49-50; J. Logano(i) 51-75; K. Harvick(i) 76-91; D. Hamlin(i) 92; J. Logano(i) 93-117; K. Harvick(i) 118-137; D. Hamlin(i) 138; J. Logano(i) 139-146; D. Hamlin(i) 147-148.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  J. Logano(i) 3 times for 58 laps; K. Harvick(i) 3 times for 54 laps; D. Hamlin(i) 4 times for 33 laps; M. Shepherd 1 time for 2 laps; E. Sadler 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 41,1,3,18,22,20,48,2,9,21

Stage #2 Top Ten: 41,18,22,1,20,48,3,2,9,21

Greg Engle
About Greg Engle 7421 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.