Denny Hamlin captured his fifth win of the season in Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 as the Round of 8 was set for the Monster Energy Cup Series Playoffs.
Hamlin was able to stay ahead of the field over two overtime finished to score his second career Kansas Cup win. He led 153 of 277 laps on his way to the win and will be the third in points after the reset going to Martinsville next week, a track he’s won at five times.
“This is a great feeling,” Hamlin said. “That car was awesome, to dominate that whole second half is great. I’ve got to thank everyone who pushed me there on the restarts. It was Kyle (Busch and ( Chase Elliott) there at the end. … I cannot wait to get to Martinsville.”
Elliott, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch and William Byron rounded out the top five.
“I appreciate the effort. You have to stay fighting in these things,” said Elliott, who was able to finish well enough to advance to the next round of the playoffs.
Martin Truex Jr., Erik Jones, Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson completed the first 10 finishers.
Logano and Hamlin won the first two stages. Stage Points
The Round of 8 in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs kicks off next Sunday at Martinsville with Kyle Busch, Truex Jr., Hamlin, Joey Logano, Harvick, Elliott, Kyle Larson and Ryan Blaney making up the eight drivers.
How Hamlin Won: It sure wasn’t easy. Hamlin had to survive not one but two overtime finishes in order to get to Victory Lane. He got some help from JGR teammate Kyle Busch on the second restart with a push that catapulted Hamlin ahead of the field a spot he was able to maintain to take the checkered flag.
Who Had a Good Day: Elliott makes it to the Round of 8 for the third straight season after entering 22 points out of a transfer spot thanks to his third straight top-four finish at Kansas…Kyle Busch has finished top 10 in nine of the last 10 races at Kansas…Kurt Busch had his best finish since winning at Kentucky in July…Johnson scored his fourth top-10 finish in the last five races.
Who Had a Bad Day: Brad Keselowski suffered problems over the last two laps of the final overtime to slide back in the running order and was eliminated from the playoff picture…Alex Bowman, Clint Bowyer and William Byron were also knocked out of the playoffs….Bubba Wallace and Matt Tifft crashed hard late in the race to set-up the overtime finish…Daniel Suarez and Daniel Hemric collided in the first overtime to bring out caution and set up the second session.
What Else Happened: The race was much anticipated for both its playoff implications as well as the possible competition after what the May Kansas race produced. As it turned out restarts were as expected intense with four and five-wide racing immediately after the green flag reappeared before drivers were able to settle down as laps wore on. Playoff drama did spark some drama in the closing stages as drivers jockeyed for position to get above the cutline in hopes of advancing to the Round of 8.
Quotable: “I just couldn’t get a go on the restart. I couldn’t capitalize on it,” Keselowski on his overtime problems.
Notables: Hamlin had only led 74 laps in his Kansas career prior to Sunday…He scored his eighth career playoff win…It was the third time in the last six races that three Hendrick Motorsports drivers finished in the top 10.