Denny Hamlin delivered in a big way on Sunday when he scored the win in the Bluegreen Vacations 500 at ISM Raceway to advance to the Championship 4.
Hamlin came into the race 20 points below the cutline on the Playoff grid. But he was able to persevere a late race restart to score his sixth win of the season and secure a spot in next week’s title race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
"I said I’m going to give it everything I’ve got to make up for that mistake last week…I’ve been through so many playoffs and done them wrong," Hamlin said. "This year, I’m always been waiting on the next right thing to happen."
Hamlin led four times for 143 laps, including the final 62.
Hamlin joins Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch is next week’s Ford EcoBoost 400 as part of the Championship 4 and a chance to win this year’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series title.
Kyle Busch, Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top five.
Martin Truex Jr., Erik Jones, Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski completed the first 10 finishers.
The season comes to a close next Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
How Hamlin Won: It came down to the final restart that was set up by a late race caution flag for an incident involving John Hunter Nemechek. When the green flew with three laps to go, Hamlin had to battle with Ryan Blaney for the top spot. He was able to get by the Team Penske driver as the duo raced through the first and second turns and once he cleared Blaney, Hamlin took the checkered flag ahead of Kyle Busch to advance to next week’s Championship 4.
Who Had a Good Day: Kyle Busch has finished in the top two in his last four ISM Raceway starts…Harvick scored his 13th straight top-10 finish at ISM, the longest streak ever at the track…Truex Jr. captured his eighth top-10 finish in the nine playoff races of 2019.
Who had a Bad Day: Chase Elliott’s chance to win at ISM Raceway and advance to the Championship 4 at Homestead ended on lap 165 when a cut tire sent him into the wall and out of the race with a severely damaged car (Read More)….Logano led 93 laps but failed to transfer to Miami and was seven points below the cutline for the first time he’ll miss the Championship 4…Blaney finished third in both ISM races in 2019 but missed transferring to Miami 31 points behind the cutline…Larson finished top 10 in the last three races at ISM but missed transferring to Miami and was 33 points behind the cutline.
What Else Happened: The lead and away from turbulent air created was the absolute key on Sunday. While there was some tight competition – particularly on restarts – further back in the field for position, the leaders all enjoyed an advantage when they were away in clean air. Hamlin proved to be the biggest beneficiary once he wrestled the top spot away and was able to drive to Victory Lane.
Quotable: "To the garage," Elliott’s crew chief Alan Gustfason after his crash ended any chances of making it to the Championship 4.
Notables: 2019 is the third straight season a Chevrolet driver failed to make the Championship 4…This is the second season Hamlin has won six races or more…Joe Gibbs Racing finished 1-2 for the sixth time this season.