Hamlin silences critics with resurgent Cup victory at Bristol; Playoff’s Round of 12 field set

Not even the chorus of boos from the crowd prior to and after the Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday, September 16, could damper Denny Hamlin’s mood and sense of enthusiasm and optimism to contend for this year’s NASCAR Cup Series championship upon winning for the third time in the 2023 season.

The three-time Daytona 500 champion from Chesterfield, Virginia, led three times for 142 of 500-scheduled laps in an event where he started on the front row and rallied from speeding on pit road under caution on Lap 70. The resulting penalty sent him to the rear of the field but he methodically drove his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota TRD Camry back to the front.

Managing a top-five result during the second stage period, Hamlin, who led for the first time with under 150 laps remaining amid a tight battle with teammate Ty Gibbs, regained the lead for good with 134 laps remaining. From there, he spent the remainder of the event navigating his way through lapped traffic and fending off Kyle Larson to score his third Cup Series victory of the 2023 season and become one of 12 Playoff competitors to advance into the Round of 12.

With on-track qualifying that determined the starting lineup occurring on Friday, September 15, Playoff contender Christopher Bell notched his third consecutive Cup pole position in recent weeks and the fifth of this season after posting a pole-winning lap at 126.997 mph in 15.109 seconds. Joining him on the front row was teammate Denny Hamlin, who clocked in the second-best qualifying lap at 126.930 mph in 15.117 seconds.

When the green flag waved and the race started amid a delay spanning more than half an hour due to light, persistent precipitation, Bell rocketed his No. 20 Reser’s Fine Foods Toyota TRD Camry ahead of the pack from the outside lane to lead through the first two turns as Michael McDowell followed suit and moved his No. 34 Love’s Ford Mustang into the runner-up spot. Meanwhile, Hamlin, who did not gain a strong start from the inside lane, fell back to third in front of William Byron and Ty Gibbs as Bell proceeded to lead the first lap.

Through the second to fifth lap, Bell kept his pole-winning car out in front of the pack while Hamlin managed to overtake McDowell in Turn 3 to reclaim the runner-up spot. Behind, Byron retained fourth ahead of Ty Gibbs, who fended off Brad Keselowski, as Martin Truex Jr., Corey LaJoie and Bubba Wallace followed suit. With Chase Elliott, who was initially running behind Wallace, slowly losing spots and dropping out of the top 10 after getting his No. 9 NAPA Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 stuck on the outside lane, Bell stabilized his lead to two-tenths of a second over teammate Hamlin.

Through the first 10 scheduled laps, Bell was leading by three-tenths of a second over teammate Hamlin, McDowell, Byron and Ty Gibbs while Truex, Keselowski, LaJoie, Wallace and Tyler Reddick were in the top 10. Behind, Ryan Blaney was in 11th ahead of Alex Bowman, Kyle Busch, Chase Briscoe and Ryan Preece while Elliott, Justin Haley, Kevin Harvick, Ross Chastain and Chris Buescher occupied the top 20. By then, Playoff contenders Joey Logano and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. were mired in 22nd and 23rd while Kyle Larson was in 31st behind Ty Dillon.

Fifteen laps later, Bell, who was starting to approach lapped traffic, retained the lead by three-tenths of a second over teammate Hamlin while McDowell trailed in third place by nearly two seconds despite having Byron close in. Behind, Ty Gibbs retained fifth while Truex, Keselowski, LaJoie, Wallace and Reddick continued to run in the top 10.

Another 10 laps later, Bell, who continued to deal with lapped traffic as he had lapped Daniel Suarez and Harrison Burton, also continued to lead by two-tenths of a second over teammate Hamlin while McDowell retained third place as he trailed the two Joe Gibbs Racing teammates by more than a second. With Playoff contenders Byron, Truex, Keselowski, Wallace, Reddick, Blaney and Kyle Busch running in the top 13, the remaining Playoff contenders that included Harvick, Chastain, Buescher, Logano, Stenhouse and Larson were mired outside the top 15 and running within the top 30.

At the Lap 50 mark, Bell, who lapped Austin Cindric a few laps earlier, stabilized his advantage over teammate Hamlin while McDowell, Byron and Ty Gibbs continued to trail in the top five. By then, Truex moved his No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota TRD Camry into sixth place while Keselowski, LaJoie, Wallace, Reddick, Blaney, Bowman, Kyle Busch, Briscoe and Ryan Preece followed suit in the top 15.

Eighteen laps later, the first caution of the event flew when AJ Allmendinger, who was just lapped by the leaders, ran his No. 16 Barger Precast Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 up the track in turn 3 and smacked the outside wall entering the frontstretch before he was hit by Cindric’s No. 2 Menards/Monster Energy Ford Mustang. By then, Bell was still leading ahead of teammate Hamlin while Hamlin, McDowell, Byron, Ty Gibbs, Truex, Keselowski, LaJoie, Wallace and Reddick were in the top 10.

During the first caution period, a majority of the field led by Bell pitted for service while the rest led by LaJoie and including Wallace, Reddick, Chastain, Logano and Todd Gilliland remained on the track. Amid the pit stops, Chase Briscoe was assessed a commitment line violation. In addition, Playoff contender Hamlin and Cindric were penalized for speeding on pit road, Playoff contender Larson was penalized for running over equipment and Austin Dillon was penalized for a safety violation.

When the race restarted on Lap 76, LaJoie and Wallace dueled for the lead until LaJoie managed to muscle his No. 7 NEGU Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 ahead through the backstretch and clear Wallace to assume both lanes to his control with the lead during the following lap. With LaJoie leading Wallace’s No. 23 Columbia Toyota TRD Camry, Chastain was in third ahead of Reddick while Bell muscled his way back into fifth as the field behind fanned out and jostled for positions amid those who pitted and those who remained on the track. With Bell battling Reddick for fourth place and trying to navigate his way back to the front, LaJoie stabilized his advantage to nearly half a second over Wallace by Lap 85.

At the Lap 100 mark, LaJoie continued to lead by four-tenths of a second over Wallace while Bell, who moved up to third, trailed by seven-tenths of a second as he started to challenge Wallace for the runner-up spot. By then, Chastain and Reddick were in the top five while McDowell, Byron, Ty Gibbs, Logano and Keselowski were in the top 10 on the track. Behind, Truex was in 11th ahead of Blaney while Kyle Busch and Buescher settled in the top 15. Meanwhile, Hamlin and Larson, following their pit road penalties, were mired back in 23rd and 24th, Stenhouse was down in 26th and Harvick, who restarted 16th, plummeted his No. 4 GEARWRENCH Ford Mustang to 28th.

Five laps later, the event’s second caution period flew due to the return of rain. By then, Bell overtook Wallace for the runner-up spot and nearly overtook LaJoie for the lead while Chastain, Reddick and McDowell followed suit in the top six. By then, Larson, Hamlin, Stenhouse and Harvick were mired back in 23rd, 24th, 27th and 28th, respectively. During the caution period, some led by McDowell and including Ty Gibbs, Blaney, Bowman, Buescher, Hamlin, Stenhouse and Harvick pitted while the rest led by LaJoie remained on the track.

With the event restarting on Lap 113, LaJoie muscled ahead to retain the lead ahead of Bell, Wallace and Reddick as the field fanned out through the backstretch. With LaJoie leading, Bell started to reignited his challenge for the lead by Lap 115 while Wallace maintained third ahead of a side-by-side battle between Byron and Reddick. Then on Lap 120, Bell reassumed the lead after navigating his way around LaJoie through the backstretch for the top spot.

When the first stage period concluded on Lap 125, Bell, who came into the event 13 points above the top-12 cutline to advance to the Playoff’s Round of 12, claimed his third Cup stage victory of the 2023 season. LaJoie settled in second followed by Wallace, Byron and Reddick while Chastain, Keselowski, Larson, Truex and Ty Gibbs were scored in the top 10. By then, Playoff contenders Kyle Busch, Buescher, McDowell, Blaney, Hamlin, Stenhouse, Logano and Harvick were mired outside the top 10 and did not score the first wave of stage points. In addition, 33 of 36 starters were scored on the lead lap.

Under the stage break, some led by LaJoie and including Wallace, Reddick, Chastain, Keselowski, Truex, Kyle Busch and Logano pitted while the rest including Bell remained on the track. Not long after, the field led by Bell was directed to pit road and the event was placed in a red flag period due to the return of precipitation. Nearly 15 minutes later, the field re-fired the engines and returned to the oval under a cautious pace.

The second stage started on Lap 140 as Bell and Larson occupied the front row. At the start, Bell muscled ahead from the outside lane to retain the lead as Byron and Ty Gibbs moved up to second and third followed by McDowell while Larson fell back to fifth. As Bell retained the lead, Ty Gibbs muscled his No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota TRD Camry into the runner-up spot from the outside lane. McDowell would then challenge Byron for third place nearing the Lap 145 mark as Larson trailed behind in fifth.

By Lap 155, Bell was leading by over teammate Ty Gibbs while Byron, McDowell and Larson followed suit in the top five. Behind, Elliott, Buescher, Bowman, Hamlin and Stenhouse were in the top 10 ahead of Preece, Blaney, Aric Almirola, Todd Gilliland and Carson Hocevar while Erik Jones, LaJoie, Austin Dillon, Harrison Burton and Wallace occupied the top 20. Bell would stabilize his lead to half a second over teammate Ty Gibbs while Larson, who continued to navigate his No. 5 Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 towards the outside wall to gain the momentum and extra speed towards the straightaways, was up to fourth as he started to challenge Byron for third place.

Just past the Lap 175 mark, Bell, who lapped Logano five laps earlier, was leading by two-tenths of a second over Larson followed by Ty Gibbs, Byron and McDowell while Buescher, Elliott, Hamlin, Bowman and Stenhouse rounded out the top 10. By then, Blaney, Wallace and Kyle Busch were mired in the top 20 while Reddick, Keselowski, Truex, Chastain, Harvick and Logano were all mired below the top 20 and within the top 32 on the track. Amid lapped traffic, Bell would proceed to lap Harvick during the following lap before Larson rocketed to the lead on Lap 179.

By Lap 190, Larson was leading by half a second over Bell while third-place Ty Gibbs trailed by more than a second. Behind, McDowell and Byron retained top-five spots ahead of Buescher, Byron, Hamlin, Elliott, Bowman and Hocevar while Stenhouse, Preece, LaJoie, Erik Jones and Blaney occupied the top 15.

At the Lap 200 mark, the battle for the lead between Bell and Larson reignited as Bell, who reassumed the lead a lap earlier, was leading Larson while Ty Gibbs, McDowell and Buescher followed suit in the top five. With Hamlin and Byron in sixth and seventh, Stenhouse and Blaney were in the top 15 while Playoff contenders Kyle Busch, Reddick, Wallace, Keselowski, Truex, Chastain, Logano and Harvick were mired within the top 32, with Chastain, Logano and Harvick were scored a lap down.

Fifteen laps later, Bell extended his advantage to two seconds over Larson while Ty Gibbs, McDowell and Buescher continued to run in the top five. By then, Hocevar, who was having a stellar run in his fourth event driving the No. 42 entry for Legacy Motor Club, moved up to seventh behind Hamlin while Byron, Elliott and Bowman battled in the top 10.

Another 15 laps later, Bell continued to stretch his advantage as he was now leading by more than three seconds over Larson followed by Ty Gibbs, McDowell and Buescher while Hamlin, Hocevar, Byron, Elliott and Bowman were in the top 10 ahead of Preece, Stenhouse, LaJoie, Erik Jones and Blaney. By then, Playoff contenders Reddick, Wallace, Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Truex, Chastain, Logano and Harvick were mired in 19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 28th, 31st and 32nd, respectively.

Just past the Lap 240 mark, Bell retained the lead by more than a second over Larson while Ty Gibbs, Hamlin and McDowell remained in the top five as the leaders started to approach lapped traffic and a bevy of Playoff contenders, including Kyle Busch and Truex.

When the second stage period concluded on Lap 250, Bell captured his fourth Cup stage victory of 2023 and second of the night. Ty Gibbs navigated his way around Larson to claim the runner-up spot while Hamlin, Hocevar, McDowell, Buescher, Byron, Preece and Elliott were scored in the top 10. By then, Playoff contenders Stenhouse, Blaney, Wallace, Keselowski, Reddick, Truex, Kyle Busch, Chastain, Logano and Harvick did not score the second wave of stage points while Chastain, Logano and Harvick were mired a lap down. By then, 23 of 36 starters were scored on the lead lap, including 23rd-place runner Kyle Busch, while Hamlin and Byron clinched their spots for the Playoff’s Round of 12 based on points.

During the stage break, the lead lap field led by Bell pitted for service. Following the pit stops, Ty Gibbs emerged as the new leader after exiting pit road first followed by teammate Hamlin, Larson, teammate Bell, Buescher, Hocevar, McDowell and Preece.

With 240 laps remaining, the final stage started as teammates Ty Gibbs and Hamlin occupied the front row. At the start, Gibbs rocketed with the lead over Hamlin while Larson and Buescher battled for third place in front of Bell and McDowell. Then two laps later, the caution quickly returned when LaJoie, who was running 12th and having a strong run towards the front, got loose entering the backstretch and bounced off Erik Jones before spinning down the track, clipping the inside wall and sliding back up the track as he clipped Logano with Ryan Newman, Ty Dillon and Justin Haley all being collected in a multi-car wreck. The damage to the left rear of Logano’s No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Mustang was enough to terminate Logano’s event from further contention and potentially his title hopes of this season pending the outcomes of Truex, Wallace and Harvick.

During the proceeding restart with 229 laps remaining, teammates Ty Gibbs and Hamlin dueled for the lead until Gibbs muscled ahead through Turns 3 and 4 as he retained the lead. Behind, Larson was in third followed by Buescher while Bell navigated his way into fifth as McDowell and Hocevar battled for sixth amid a series of battles ensuing within the pack.

With less than 210 laps remaining, Ty Gibbs retained the lead by six-tenths of a second over teammate Hamlin followed by Larson, Buescher and teammate Bell while Hocevar, McDowell, Preece, Bowman and Erik Jones while Elliott, Byron, Stenhouse, Wallace and Almirola trailed in the top 15 ahead of Keselowski, Austin Dillon, Reddick, Todd Gilliland and Truex. By then, Harvick, who was currently scored three points below the cutline behind Truex and Wallace, was mired in 28th after scraping the outside wall earlier.

Down to the final 200 laps of the event, Ty Gibbs continued to lead by three-tenths of a second over teammate Hamlin as Larson, Buescher and Bell remained in the top five. Behind, Wallace, who drew himself back into contention to make the cutline amid Logano’s retirement, was in 14th behind Byron and Stenhouse. In addition, Truex, who was also battling for the final transfer spot to the cutline, was mired in 20th in front of Kyle Busch while Harvick, who was four points below the cutline, was trapped in 29th as he continued to deal with handling issues to his Ford.

Five laps later, Blaney, who was in 24th place on the track and 23 points above the cutline despite making earlier contact with the wall, was lapped by the leader Ty Gibbs as Hamlin tried to close in on his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate for the lead.

With 175 laps remaining, Ty Gibbs extended his advantage to more than a second over teammate Hamlin as Larson, Buescher, Bell, Hocevar, McDowell, Bowman, Preece and Byron were running in the top 10. Meanwhile, Wallace, who nearly made contact with Keselowski a few laps earlier, was in 13th, Truex was in 19th in front of Kyle Busch, Blaney was back in 23rd, Chastain was mired in 25th and Harvick was in 28th.

Twenty-five laps later, Ty Gibbs, who lapped Playoff contender Kyle Busch more than 10 laps earlier, continued to lead by four-tenths of a second over teammate Hamlin while Larson, Buescher, Bell, Hocevar, McDowell, Bowman, Preece and Byron remained in the top 10. By then, Keselowski, Stenhouse and Wallace were in the top 14, Reddick was in 17th, Truex was in 19th ahead of Kyle Busch, Blaney was back in 23rd, Chastain was in 25th and Harvick lost a spot to 29th.

Another four laps later, the battle for the lead intensified between Joe Gibbs Racing’s Ty Gibbs and Hamlin as Hamlin used the inside lane to muscle ahead and lead a lap for himself before Gibbs fought back on the outside lane and reassumed the top spot. With Gibbs trying to pull away, Larson started to close in on both for the lead while Truex was trying to remain ahead of the leaders to remain on the lead lap. Then with 141 laps remaining, Hamlin, who transitioned to the outside lane, navigated his way around Ty Gibbs to assume the lead.

Then with 139 laps remaining, Truex, who was running 19th and just lapped by teammate Hamlin, got sideways entering the frontstretch and made contact with the right-rear quarter panel of his car towards the wall, though he managed to continue straight without spinning his car. Despite Truex being scored the first competitor a lap down at the moment of caution, he was not awarded the free pass due to instigating the caution for the spin.

During the caution period, the leaders led by Hamlin pitted for service. Following the pit stops, Hamlin retained the lead after exiting first ahead of Larson, Buescher, Bell, Ty Gibbs, McDowell, Hocevar and Byron.

With 131 laps remaining, the race restarted under green. At the start, Hamlin and Larson dueled for the lead for a lap until Hamlin used the outside lane to rocket ahead of Larson during the following lap. Hamlin, however, slipped up the track, which allowed Larson to nearly draw even with Hamlin and battle him for the lead as the field behind jostled for late positions. With 127 laps remaining, Hamlin managed to clear Larson with the lead as Bell navigated his way up to third ahead of Buescher and Ty Gibbs. With Hamlin leading by seven-tenths of a second over Larson with 120 laps remaining, McDowell was in sixth as he was currently scored 17 points below the cutline and faced a “must-win” situation to advance into the Round of 12. Meanwhile, Wallace was in 14th behind teammate Reddick, Truex was in 19th a lap down, and Harvick was in 29th, three laps down.

Down to the final 100 laps of the event, Hamlin continued to lead by more than a second over Larson followed by Bell, Buescher and Ty Gibbs while McDowell, Elliott, Byron, Hocevar and Stenhouse were scored in the top 10 ahead of Keselowski. Behind, Wallace retained 13th ahead of teammate Reddick, Truex remained as the first competitor a lap down in 19th in front of Kyle Busch, Blaney and Chastain while Harvick continued to run three laps down in 29th, which currently places him and Logano below the cutline behind Wallace and Truex.

Twenty-five laps later, Hamlin stabilized his advantage to nearly two seconds over Larson followed by Bell, Buescher and Ty Gibbs while McDowell, Elliott, Byron, Hocevar and Keselowski were in the top 10. By then, Hamlin lapped 18th-place Aric Almirola a few laps earlier as Almirola was ahead of Truex in a battle for the free pass position while Wallace remained in 13th in between Preece and Bowman. In addition, Harvick continued to run 29th while now scored four laps down.

With less than 60 laps remaining, Hamlin, who was trying to lap 16th-place runner Todd Gilliland, stabilized his advantage to six-tenths of a second over a hard-charging Larson while Bell, Buescher and McDowell remained in the top five. Despite Larson gaining ground in the proceeding laps while continuing to rim-ride towards the outside wall, Hamlin, who managed to lap Gilliland, increased his lead to more than a second over Larson with 50 laps remaining.

With 35 laps remaining, Hamlin stretched his advantage to more than two seconds over Larson. By then, Wallace was a lap down despite retaining 14th place on the track while Truex retained 19th ahead of Kyle Busch, Blaney, Suarez and Chastain. Both Wallace and Truex, though, continued to emerge ahead of both Harvick and Logano above the current Playoff cutline as Hamlin continued to lead with 25 laps remaining.

Down to the final 20 laps of the event, Hamlin retained the lead by more than two seconds over Larson while Bell, Buescher and McDowell followed pursuit in the top five. As Ty Gibbs, Elliott, Keselowski, Byron and Hocevar were scored in the top 10 on the track, Wallace and Truex remained in 14th and 19th on the track while Harvick also remained in 29th. Amid the late battles for on-track spots and potential transfer spots to the Round of 12, Hamlin remained out in front by less than two seconds over Larson.

Down to the final 10 laps of the event, Hamlin kept his No. 11 FedEx Toyota TRD Camry out in front by less than two seconds over Larson’s No. 5 Valvoline Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 while third-place Bell trailed by more than four seconds. Hamlin, who would proceed to lap teammate Truex for a second time, would also proceed to lead by less than two seconds with five laps remaining.

When the white flag waved and the final lap started, Hamlin remained as the leader by more than two seconds over Larson. Despite being marred by more lapped traffic and trying to catch 10th-place Stenhouse, Hamlin was able to smoothly cycle his way around the 0.533-mile oval for a final time and cross the finish line first to claim the checkered flag and win by more than two seconds over Larson.

With the victory, Hamlin notched his 51st career victory in the NASCAR Cup Series, which moved him into sole possession in 13th place on the all-time wins list. The Bristol victory under the lights marked his third at the track, his third of the season and his first since winning at Pocono Raceway in July. It also marked the seventh of the season for Joe Gibbs Racing and the ninth of the season for Toyota.

Having clinched his spot for the Round of 12 earlier in the night, Hamlin will continue his quest to contend for his first elusive NASCAR Cup Series championship in his 18th season as a full-time competitor.

Photo by Andrew Boyd for SpeedwayMedia.com.

“Everybody likes a winner, right?” Hamlin, who took a swipe at the chorus of boos from the crowd, said on USA Network. “[I] Can’t thank this whole FedEx team enough. They really kicked ass this whole first round. Just amazing how good our team has been. Just so happy about the way we’re running. Can’t wait to keep going. It’s our year. I just feel like we’ve got it all put together. We got the speed every single type of racetrack. Nothing to stop us at this point. Hey, I beat your favorite driver! All of them!”

Kyle Larson settled in the runner-up spot followed by Bell and Buescher, all of whom transferred into the Playoff’s Round of 12 while rookie Ty Gibbs ended up in fifth place after leading 102 laps. McDowell, Elliott, Keselowski, Byron and Stenhouse completed the top 10 on the track, all of whom finished on the lead lap.

Meanwhile, Bubba Wallace and Martin Truex Jr., both of whom entered Bristol below the cutline, were left smiling on pit road after both managed to secure the final two transfer spots into the Round of 12 by finishing 14th and 19th, respectively, amid a grueling event.

“God, I love that [expletive] right there, counting us out,” Wallace, who proceeds forward in his quest to win his first Cup title and secured both 23XI Racing cars into the Round of 12 along with Tyler Reddick, said. “Like [tennis star] Coco Gauff said, all [the critics] are doing is adding fuel to the fire. I love it. I love where I’m at with this team. I’m at a career year. Just got to keep it going. I’m mentally exhausted. I’m wore out. Gave it our all there. Battled hard and executed. That’s what you gotta do. We know next week’s a reset and we just got to go out, have some fun and work our asses off. Thank you to the ones that believe in me. Keep it going and onto next week.”

Photo by Chad Wells for SpeedwayMedia.com.

“All in all, it was just a fighting night,” Truex, who will continue to battle for his second Cup title, added. “We had to fight through it and do the best we could. It wasn’t pretty, but it was enough. Now we reset and we can go, hopefully, not have two terrible weeks in a row like we did this round in the next couple and be in good shape.”

Photo by Chad Wells for SpeedwayMedia.com.

With Wallace and Truex advancing into the Round of 12 along with Byron, Hamlin, Larson, Buescher, Kyle Busch, Bell, Reddick, Chastain, Keselowski and Blaney, Logano, who ended up 34th, was officially eliminated from title contention as he will not defend his series’ title nor contend for a third Cup title this season. Kevin Harvick, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Michael McDowell also joined Logano as the first four wave of competitors to be eliminated from Playoff contention for the 2023 season.

“We’ve been like that all year,” Harvick, who ended up 29th, five laps down, and will not contend for his second championship in his 23rd and final full-time season in the Cup Series, said. “We’ve been hit or miss and tonight, we just missed by a mile. I’ve had some good days and bad days, but that’s definitely the worst [run at Bristol] I’ve had with fenders on [the car]. I didn’t really have many expectations with this up and down as the year has been, so it is what it is. That’s probably about what we deserved.”

Photo by Chad Wells for SpeedwayMedia.com.

“Tonight, it wasn’t enough,” McDowell added. “We were in a “must-win” situation. Still really proud of everybody at Front Row Motorsports. Not quite enough to run with those top two or three guys, but pretty good. Those first two [Playoff] races just killed us. It just put us so far behind, but this is a learning experience. It’s a young group. We didn’t do what we wanted to do here in these Playoffs, but I think we showed speed. We showed that we could do it, so we’ll learn from this. We’ll get ready for next year.”

There were 10 lead changes for six different leaders. The race featured six cautions for 53 laps.

Results.

1. Denny Hamlin, 142 laps led

2. Kyle Larson, 20 laps led

3. Christopher Bell, 187 laps led, Stage 1 & 2 winner

4. Chris Buescher, one lap led

5. Ty Gibbs, 102 laps led

6. Michael McDowell

7. Chase Elliott

8. Brad Keselowski

9. William Byron

10. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

11. Carson Hocevar, one lap down

12. Ryan Preece, one lap down

13. Alex Bowman, one lap down

14. Bubba Wallace, one lap down

15. Tyler Reddick, one lap down

16. Todd Gilliland, one lap down

17. Austin Dillon, one lap down

18. Aric Almirola, one lap down

19. Martin Truex Jr., two laps down

20. Kyle Busch, two laps down

21. Daniel Suarez, two laps down

22. Ryan Blaney, two laps down

23. Ross Chastain, two laps down

24. Erik Jones, three laps down

25. Corey LaJoie, three laps down

26. JJ Yeley, five laps down

27. Chase Briscoe, five laps down

28. Harrison Burton, five laps down

29. Kevin Harvick, five laps down

30. AJ Allmendinger, nine laps down

31. BJ McLeod, 10 laps down

32. Austin Cindric, 12 laps down

33. Ty Dillon – OUT, Accident

34. Joey Logano – OUT, Accident

35. Justin Haley – OUT, Accident

36. Ryan Newman – OUT, Accident

*Bold indicates Playoff contenders

Playoff standings

1. William Byron – Advanced

2. Martin Truex Jr. – Advanced

3. Denny Hamlin – Advanced

4. Kyle Larson – Advanced

5. Chris Buescher – Advanced

6. Kyle Busch – Advanced

7. Christopher Bell – Advanced

8. Tyler Reddick – Advanced

9. Ross Chastain – Advanced

10. Brad Keselowski – Advanced

11. Ryan Blaney – Advanced

12. Bubba Wallace – Advanced

13. Joey Logano – Eliminated

14. Kevin Harvick – Eliminated

15. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – Eliminated

16. Michael McDowell – Eliminated

The Round of 12 in the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs is set to commence next Sunday, September 24, at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. The event’s broadcast is slated to occur at 3:30 p.m. ET on USA Network.

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

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