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.
Martin Truex Jr Victorious At Martinsville Speedway
MARTINSVILLE, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Martin Truex Jr passed teammate Denny Hamlin on lap 485 and went on the win the rain-delayed NASCAR Cup Series Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway. The victory was Truex’s second of 2021 and 29th of his Cup Series Career.
“He (Hamlin) started getting tight, our car was getting better and better,” said Truex of the late race pass. “We were able to take advantage of it. Really happy. For whatever reason our car really turned on when the lights went down. Always good when a plan comes together and it works out the way you hoped it would.”
Hendrick Motorsports Chase Elliott finished second, his seventh top-10 finish in 13-races at Martinsville and fourth top-10 of 2021.
“Really, really hard-fought second actually for us,” said Elliott. “We were not great, but had some, I guess our strong suit was kind of early on in the run, then really faded hard, too hard there in the latter part of a run. But we never got one of those super long runs, which is probably a good thing for us because we were struggling on that end. But, yeah, proud we could fight back.”
Hamlin settled for third after leading the most laps in the race (267).
“Had a really good car on the short run all day,” said Hamlin. “Got great restarts. Was fast for 25, 30 laps. Then it seemed like guys would start catching us. Unfortunately it was just too many laps there at the end that we couldn’t hold those guys off.”
Hendrick Motorsports teammates William Byron and Kyle Larson finished fourth and fifth respectively, giving HMS three cars in the top 5.
The race featured 18-lead changes among 7-drivers and was slowed by 15-caution flags for 105-laps.
The next NASCAR Cup Series race is April 18, 2020 at Richmond Raceway.
Josh Berry Gets First Career Xfinity Series Win At Martinsville Speedway
MARTINSVILLE, VA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Josh Berry passed Ty Gibbs for the lead on lap 223 and stayed out front for the final 27-laps to get his first career NASCAR Xfinity Series win in the rain-delayed Cook Out 250 at Martinsville Speedway. The victory was the first career victory for Berry in 13 Xfinity Series starts.
“Man, I wanted to win so bad for these guys,” said Berry referring to his No. 8 JR Motorsports team. “They’re such a great group. I knew this would be a good opportunity to win. (Crew chief) Taylor (Moyer) called a perfect race. The car was good, and we just kept tweaking on it. The tires were pretty worn out there at the end. I was struggling a little bit with wheel-hop. This is just unbelievable.”
Berry’s JR Motorsports teammate Noah Gragson finished second and picked up a $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus, which eased the pain of being the runner-up.
“One hundred thousand dollars richer,” said Gragson. “Great 1-2 finish for our team at JR Motorsports. I really wanted to win there, but I was having to protect the bottom to keep the guys behind me from moving me out of the way. I couldn’t open up my arc the way I needed to and make speed.”
Daniel Hemric finished in third position followed by Gibbs, who faded to a fourth place finish. Gibbs’ teammate Brandon Jones finished fifth. Jones was the leader Friday night when storms red-flagged the event after completing 91-laps.
The race featured 13-lead changes among 9-drivers. The race was slowed by 12-caution flags for 75-laps.
The next race for the NASCAR Xfinity Series is April 24, 2021 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Mother Nature Wins At Martinsville Speedway
MARTINSVILLE, VA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Mother Nature is throwing a wrench into this weekend’s NASCAR Cup Series and Xfinity Series Schedules at Martinsville Virginia.
Friday’s Xfinity race is under a red flag following 92-laps of the scheduled 250-lap event after rain showers put an end to NASCAR’s attempt to get the event finished. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Brandon Jones is scored as the leader of the race.
NASCAR has rescheduled the remainder of the event for Sunday at Noon ET.
The Cup Series race was red flagged on lap 43 because of showers. JGR’s Denny Hamlin is scored as the leader. Hamlin has led 38-laps. Team Penske’s Joey Logano started on the pole position and led the other laps.
NASCAR will restart the event on Sunday at 4 p.m. ET.
Per NASCAR rules, an event is considered official after half of the scheduled distance has been completed.
Both races will be broadcast live on FS1, the Motor Racing Network (MRN) and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.