Home Win for Hamlin

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Hamlin celebrates his third win of the season and third at Richmond. (Photo: Getty Images)

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Virginia native Denny Hamlin scored a win at his home track when he took the checkered flag in Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway.

Hamlin started from the pole but he had to fight to get back into the lead late in the wild race and then survived an overtime finish to score his third win of the season.

“It was great,” Hamlin said. “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.

“Yeah, that's what's so special about it so you get to do it at home, and there's just I see all the extra Denny Hamlin shirts and hats and everything, and fires me up every time I get here. I've also got to thank Sport Clips for their support this year, as well. Got all that covered, and man, this is a great car. Hopefully we can use it in the Chase.”

Hamlin led seven times for 189 laps, including the last 85.

Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top five.

Kasey Kahne, Jamie McMurray, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch and Jamie McMurray completed the first 10 finishers.

The first race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup Series Championship comes up on Sunday, September 18th with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles at Chicagoland Speedway.

How Hamlin Won: Regan Smith’s crash set up an overtime finish and on the night’s final restart, Hamlin got a tremendous jump and pulled away from the field. Larson made a strong run with fresher tires and looked as if he had the faster car, but Hamlin’s advantage was too much to overcome and the JGR driver cruised to a comfortable margin at the finish line.

Who Had a Good Night: Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon, Jamie McMurray and Chris Buescher all had reason to celebrate as they finished well enough to qualify for the Chase. Each had some sort of challenge to deal with throughout the long night of racing but each persevered to earn a spot in this year’s playoff field. Those four drivers join Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Harvick, Carl Edwards, Hamlin, Truex Jr., Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Logano, Kurt Busch, Larson and Tony Stewart in this year’s Chase field.

Who Had a Bad Night: He needed to win to make the Chase but Kasey Kahne came up short with a sixth-place finish. A late pit call for fresh tires gave Kahne a chance that he wasn’t able to cash in thanks to Hamlin’s dominating push to the finish…The biggest incident of the night brought out a red flag for nearly 10 minutes and was triggered by contact between Ryan Newman and Stewart, with Edwards, David Ragan, Dylan Lupton and many others getting caught up in the melee. Newman in particular was incensed afterward with his Chase hopes out the window and blasted Stewart with some very harsh words…Ryan Blaney’s slim chance of making the Chase ended on lap 12 when he cut a tire and slammed the wall. The Wood Brothers story of trying to get a win and make the playoffs was over early…Paul Menard suffered severe damage to his car when he crashed hard into the wall…Matt Kenseth was running at the front of the field but a cut tire sent him into the Turn 3 wall after contact with Brad Keselowski…AJ Allmendinger had a trying night that finally came to a head when he got into a scuffle with David Ragan and Clint Bowyer to crash late in Saturday night’s race.

What Else Happened: A record 16 cautions sums up the tone of Saturday night’s race, that actually started relatively calm but escalated tremendously in the second half. Tight racing especially after restarts bunched the field regularly but with that close competition came contact and yellow flags. Tire management also became a key late as teams started to run low on new rubber and were forced to make strategy changes accordingly.

Quotable: “What is everyone doing?,” – Hamlin after the 14th caution flag of the night.

Notables: JGR has a series leading 11 wins in 2016….McMurray posted his ninth top-10 finish of 2016, four of the nine came in the last five races….Michael McDowell’s 12th-place finish was his best Richmond performance in his 12th career start at the track.

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