Hamlin Survives Wreckfest Regular Season Finale to Win at Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. — Denny Hamlin out-lasted a caution-heavy short track Saturday night in the capital of Virginia to add to his Chase stats.

The driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota led the field to the green flag this evening at 7:47. It didn’t take long for the first caution to fly on lap 11 for Ryan Blaney suffering a tire blowout, slamming the wall in turn 1 and kiss his chance of making the Chase goodbye.

After the race restarted on lap 16, it settled into a calmer state where the only item worth noting was Martin Truex Jr. taking the lead on lap 52. The second caution flew on lap 85 for AJ Allmendinger spinning out in turn 4. During the caution, Kurt Busch assumed the race lead after missing his pit stall completely and Greg Biffle turned Tony Stewart around on pit road.

After the race restarted on lap 92, it went back under yellow after Chase Elliott suffered a tire blowout and slammed the wall on the frontstretch.

The race restarted on lap 100 and it remained green for the next 100 laps. During the run, Truex took back the race lead. The caution flew after Jimmie Johnson suffered a tire blowout and slammed the wall in turn 1.

After halfway is when the race turned into a wreckfest.

The list of cautions included debris, David Ragan suffering a tire blowout and slamming the wall in turn 1, Paul Menard rear-ending the wall, Casey Mears wrecking, Michael Annett suffering a tire blowout and slamming the wall in turn 2, Carl Edwards suffering a suspension failure, Allmendinger again, Matt Kenseth slamming the wall in turn 2, Allmendinger a third time, a multi-car wreck in turn 3 involving Stewart and Ryan Newman, and Regan Smith wrecking in turn 3 with two laps to go to force overtime.

In the end, Hamlin held off Truex in overtime to win the Federated Auto Parts 400.

“It feels great,” Hamlin said of how it felt to win at Richmond again. “I’ll tell you, our cars were really running well. Wheels and the whole group just gave me a great car. Really got it tuned in there the last half of the race. Just good restarts, finally everything just kind of worked well for us all day. I didn’t think staying out was the right thing to do, but great call there, and actually, I got this from one of our Toyota guests on his birthday day today. He gave me this. He said it helped him get through tough times, so kept that in the car, and thank Eli for that.”

It’s his 29th career victory in 388 Sprint Cup Series starts, his third of 2016, third at Richmond International Raceway, 15th top-10 finish of the season and 12th in 21 races at Richmond.

Larson led 15 laps on his way to a runner-up finish in his No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.

It’s his 10th top-10 of the season and first in six races at Richmond.

Truex, who led a race of 193 of 400 laps on his way to rounding out the podium in his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota.

Brad Keselowski finished fourth in his No. 2 Team Penske Ford. Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-five in his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet.

Kasey Kahne finished sixth in his No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Jamie McMurray finished seventh in his No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. Kurt Busch led three laps on his way to an eighth-place finish in his No. 41 SHR Chevrolet. Kyle Busch finished ninth in his No. 18 JGR Toyota. Joey Logano rounded out the top-10 in his No. 22 Penske Ford.

Jeffrey Earnhardt, who led two laps, finished 27th. Regan Smith, who led two laps, finished 29th. Matt Kenseth, who led three laps, finished 38th.

Twenty-four cars finished the race on the lead lap and 32 were running at the finish.

The race lasted three hours, 33 minutes and 31 seconds at an average speed of 85.778 mph. There were 21 lead changes among seven different drivers and 16 cautions for 89 laps.

With the Chase reset, Kyle Busch and Keselowski exit Richmond tied for the points lead. The complete Chase Grid is as follows:

1. Kyle Busch, No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota (four wins, 2012 points)
2. Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Team Penske Ford (four wins, 2012 points)
3. Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota (three wins, 2009 points)
4. Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet (two wins, 2006 points)
5. Carl Edwards, No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota (two wins, 2006 points)
6. Martin Truex Jr., No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota (two wins, 2006 points)
7. Matt Kenseth, No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota (two wins, 2006 points)
8. Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet (two wins, 2006 points)
9. Joey Logano, No. 22 Team Penske Ford (one win, 2003 points)
10. Kyle Larson, No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Chevrolet (one win, 2003 points)
11. Tony Stewart, No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet (one win, 2003 points)
12. Kurt Busch, No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet (one win, 2003 points)
13. Chris Buescher, No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford (one win, 2003 points)
14. Chase Elliott, No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet (on points, 2000 points)
15. Austin Dillon, No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet (on points, 2000 points)
16. Jamie McMurray, No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Chevrolet (on points, 2000 points)



The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

Tucker White
My name is Tucker White. I'm currently majoring in journalism at the University of Tennessee. I started getting into NASCAR around 1998 and started following the sport full-time in 2001. I live and breathe everything related to NASCAR. I also have a burning passion for all things auto racing. I've been following Formula 1 since 2011 and am slowing getting into IndyCar. I do my best to keep up with the World Endurance Championship. But at the end of the day, NASCAR is my primary beat. Being both a native of Knoxville, Tennessee and a student at UT, I'm naturally a die-hard Tennessee Volunteers fan. Especially when it comes to Tennessee Volunteers football. While I'll never stop being one, it can be the most heart-wrenching thing ever. Since 2005, this team has delivered more than its fair share of heartbreaking moments and inhuman frustration. I've stuck with the Vols from the best of times - 1998 National Champions - to the worst of times - 2005 to present - because I know that it'll make it all so worth it when the mighty Vols finally return to the top of the college football landscape. In the last few years, I started to really get into baseball. This past season, I decided to pledge my sporting allegiance to the Atlanta Braves. It didn't turn out too well as they finished 67-95 and finished fourth in the NL East. I do see great potential with the young roster and they might be a force to be reckoned with in the coming years.

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