DARLINGTON, SC (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Denny Hamlin grabbed his second win of 2020 Wednesday night winning the rain-shortened Toyota 500 NASCAR Cup Series race at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina.
Hamlin’s No. 11 FedEx Toyota crossed the finish line under caution ahead of his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Kyle Busch, who finished 2nd in the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota.
The win was the 39th career NASCAR Cup Series victory for Hamlin, who started 16th and led only once for 12-laps.
“We made really good adjustments between the two races, really worked hard to get our car a little bit better than what it was here on Sunday,” said Hamlin. “I just love the racetrack. It’s one of my favorites, certainly in my top two or three. I think it’s a driver’s racetrack.”
Busch finished second but not without controversy. Busch and Hamlin were racing for the lead following a late restart when Chase Elliott, running third, chose to follow Hamlin on the high-side of the race track with Kevin Harvick in close pursuit. Busch tried to squeeze up into line between the No. 9 Chevy and the No. 4 Ford, but he did not have enough room and ended up clipping Elliott’s left rear, turning NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver and sending him into the inside wall and to a 39th place finish.
Kyle Busch sends Chase Elliott around at Darlington. pic.twitter.com/XQMGSBrtP5
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) May 21, 2020
“If you get stuck on the bottom, you’re screwed, going to lose a bunch of positions,” said Hamlin. “You have to be on the top or else you’re screwed, unless somebody messes up. It’s just a tough track when it comes to the restarts.”
Busch, who drove for Hendrick Motorsports and Crew Chief Alan Gustafson when he broke into the Cup Series as a rookie, took to Twitter after the race to say he simply made a mistake.
I want to apologize again to Chase & his team. I made a mistake & misjudged the gap. I really hate that it happened for those guys. I have too much respect for Chase and Alan to do that maliciously.
— Kyle Busch (@KyleBusch) May 21, 2020
Stewart Haas Racing’s Harvick finished third in the No. 4 Mustang followed by Team Penske‘s Brad Keselowski in the No. 2 Pirtek Mustang. Hamlin and Busch’s teammate Eric Jones rounded out the Top 5.
Chip Ganassi Racing‘s Kurt Busch finished 15th in the No. 1 Monster Energy Chevrolet and his teammate Matt Kenseth finished 30th after cutting a tire and brining out a caution on Lap 180. Busch finished third and Kenseth 10th this past Sunday.
The weather and shorter distance may have had something to do with a sense of urgency there seemed to be from the drop of the green flag as the race featured 17-lead changes among 13-drivers. The race was slowed by 11-caution flags for 54-laps.
The next race for the NASCAR Cup Series is the Coca-Cola 600 from Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 24th.
Hometown Boy Kurt Busch Wins In Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS, NV (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kurt Busch beat Matt DiBenedetto and Denny Hamlin in overtime to win Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The victory was Busch’s first at his hometown track in 23-starts and his first victory in 2020.
“This is what kids dream of when they go racing,” said Busch, who grew up racing on the ‘Bullring’ with his Dad and younger brother Kyle. “You dream of winning at your hometown track and for two decades it’s kicked my butt and tonight with this Monster Energy Chevy, I’m in awe.”
Busch had to survive two late-race restarts to get the victory. Busch got a fantastic restart with 12-laps to go and had a multi-car length lead when Christopher Bell cut a tire and slowed on the front stretch where Hendrick Motorsports William Byron crashed into Bell to bring out the caution with 7-laps to go, sending the race into overtime.
The last restart saw Busch get another great jump out front as DiBenedetto and Hamlin were battling for second place as the No. 1 Monster Energy Camaro raced to the checkered flag.
In case anyone wants to see this greatness one more time, or a thousand more pic.twitter.com/ZCNZppJrWW
— Chip Ganassi Racing (@CGRTeams) September 28, 2020
“I pulled out some drag racing skills on the restarts,” said Busch. “I knew that was our strong suit. I knew that was Ford’s weak suit. We just put ourselves in position and we held them off. Chip Ganassi was up in the suites somewhere and I could feel him breathing down my neck ‘I want to win’ and we did it.”
The win also automatically advances Busch to the Round of 8 in the NASCAR Playoffs giving him and the No. 1 Monster Energy/GEARWRENCH team a little bit of a buffer before the Playoff field is narrowed down to the Round of 4 after races at Talladega Superspeedway and ‘The Roval’ at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“It’s an incredible feeling,” said Busch. “It’s sinking in, no Talladega worries, no Roval worries but we’re still going there to get points. We’re still going there to add up what we need to do to win this Championship.”
DiBenedetto held on for second place followed by Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr. and Alex Bowman.
The NASCAR Cup Series playoffs move onto Talladega Superspeedway October 4, 2020.
Chase Briscoe Wins NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco 300 at Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS, NV (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chase Briscoe dominated the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff opener Saturday night at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, punching his ticket to the second round.
Briscoe won all three stages and beat Noah Gragson on a late restart to win the Alsco 300. The victory was Briscoe’s eighth of the season and 10th career win in 78 Xfinity Series starts.
“An unbelievable car,” said Briscoe, who led a race-high 164-laps. “That thing was on rails. It was so easy to drive. By far the best race car I’ve ever had.”
The victory gives Briscoe a 17-point lead over Austin Cindric in the Championship fight. Cindric finished sixth.
Gragson, a Las Vegas native, wanted to park his JR Motorsports Chevrolet in victory lane in front of the hometown crowd.
“It’s good to get points but it’s kind of frustrating,” said Gragson. “We were all doing everything we could. I was kind of the best of the rest. The 98 (Briscoe) was so fast.”
The second place finish moved Gragson up a spot in the Championship standings, 34-points behind Briscoe and 17-points behind Cindric.
Daniel Hemric finished third followed by Justin Allgaier in fourth. Ryan Sieg rounded out the Top 5.
The Xfinity Series title fight moves to Talladega Superspeedway on October 3, 2020.
Austin Hill Wins NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Westgate 200
LAS VEGAS, NV (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Austin Hill grabbed the lead on a restart with 39-laps remaining and powered to the victory in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Westgate 200 Friday night at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Hill’s Weins Canada Toyota crossed the finish line 0.546-seconds ahead of Sheldon Creed, punching Hill’s ticket to the next round of the NASCAR Playoffs.
“We didn’t start the race where we wanted to after having a bad race at Bristol,” said Hill. “Track position was huge today. Seemed like back in the pack it was pretty hard to pass. I knew when we were restarting up front there we had to get aggressive, and that’s what I did.”
Creed led a race-high 89 of the 134 laps but had to settle for second place after winning both the first and second stage of the race.
“Frustrating honestly,” Creed said of the runner-up finish. “Way faster truck than him (Hill). I feel like the pace picked up there at the end running the top. He’d run half a truck off the wall and I’d run against the wall. He’d slide up and I would get really tight or really loose behind him. Just couldn’t do anything.”
Creed did earn a race-high 55-points as well as 2-playoff points to help in the Championship fight.
Tanner Gray finished third followed by Stewart Friesen in fourth and Chandler Smith rounded out the Top 5.
The race featured four lead changes among four drivers. Five caution flags for 25-laps slowed the average speed of the race to 119.861-seconds.
The next race for the Truck Series is October 3, 2020 at Talladega Superspeedway.