Hamlin claims win in wild Darlington race cut short by rain

Denny Hamlin escaped with his second NASCAR Cup Series victory of the season as rain brought a halt to a wild battle in the closing laps at Darlington.

Hamlin claims win in wild Darlington race cut short by rain

Late in the race, Hamlin – on older tires – was fending off a stiff challenge from Chase Elliott and Kyle Busch when Busch wrecked Elliott on the frontstretch on Lap 201 of 228 laps, bringing out a caution.

While under caution, rain – which had threatened for about half an hour – suddenly picked up and NASCAR called the race with 20 laps remaining, giving Hamlin the win in the Toyota 500k at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.

The win by Hamlin is his second of the season – he also won the season-opening Daytona 500 – and 39th of his career.

Hamlin becomes the winner of the first Wednesday night Cup race since 1984. NASCAR has run a pair of races at Darlington over the last four days after it put its season on hiatus in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is a driver’s race track. You can move around, you can do different things to make your car handle. We got it right today," Hamlin said. 

"The weather really didn’t play a factor in our (late pit) call there. It was really, we were limited on tires. We had just come to take tires, which was our last set, but we had a set of one-lap scuffs. They weren’t glued up in time. We didn’t have time to glue them. The only choice for us was to stay out. We were really the best car on that long run anyway. I think the right car won.”

Asked if he felt Wednesday night's race was more intense due to its shorter distance and threat of weather, Hamlin said, "It was good. The distance was perfect. It’s not too little and it’s not too much. I think the distance was perfect. I think it gives you enough racing to where things work out and you can still make your way from the back to the front and be able to win the race. It’s not too short. I’m in favor of these types of races.”

Kevin Harvick ended up third, Brad Keselowski fourth and Erik Jones completed the top-five.

Rounding out the top-10 were Joey Logano, Aric Almirola, Jimmie Johnson, Matt DiBenedetto and Martin Truex Jr.

The Xfinity Series will compete at Darlington at noon ET Thursday (Fox Sports 1), a race that was postponed from Tuesday night, also due to persistent heavy rain. The next Cup Series event is the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Read Also:

Stage 3

Following the break between Stages 2 and 3, all lead-lap cars pit with Harvick the first car off pit road. On the restart on Lap 133, Ryan Newman led the way as he and Chris Buescher did not pit. Harvick restarted in third.

Jones powered to the lead using three-wide move with 95 laps to go as Newman dropped to second and Elliott moved to third.

 

With 75 laps remaining, Jones had opened a more than 1-second lead over Elliott. Harvick continued to run third, 2 seconds behind the leader.

Elliott got around Jones on the outside with 68 laps to go to take the lead for the first time in the race.

Four laps later, Hamlin had moved into third behind Jones. Clint Bowyer ran fourth and Kyle Busch had cracked the top-five. With 62 laps to go, Hamlin moved into second.

With 53 laps to go, several teams began making their final green-flag pit stops of the race. Elliott was among the first group who dropped to pit road.

Matt Kenseth, who had already made his stop, spun off Turn 2 with 49 laps to go to bring out a caution and disrupt the green-flag stops. Keselowski, among those who had not pit, was the leader at the time.

During the caution, Keselowski and Brennan Poole pit, turning the lead back over to Elliott. On the restart on Lap 187, Elliott led the way followed by Keselowski, Hamlin, Poole and Bowyer.

On Lap 194, Bowyer hit the wall in Turn 4 wall and spun down toward the entrance to pit road which brought out a caution.

Hamline and DiBenedetto elected to remain on the track while the rest of the lead-lap cars pit, with Harvick the first off pit road. Hamlin led the way on the restart on Lap 200 followed by DiBenedetto, Harvick, Kyle Busch and Jones.

On the start of Lap 201, Kyle Busch got into Elliott, sending him plowing into the frontstretch wall. After getting out of his car, Elliott waited until Busch came back around and directed an obscene gesture toward Busch’s No. 18 Toyota.

 

While the race remained under caution, rain began falling at Darlington, threatening to bring the race to a premature conclusion.

Stage 2

Bowyer got off pit road with the lead on a late caution and held off Elliott to win his second consecutive stage.

Truex ended up third, Jones fourth and Harvick completed the top-five.

Following the break between Stages 1 and 2, all the lead-lap cars pit with Bowyer the first off pit road. On the restart on Lap 69, Bowyer was followed by Ryan Blaney and Truex.

Chris Buescher spun and wrecked on Lap 72 after contact from Michael McDowell to bring out the caution. A handful of drivers elected to pit but Bowyer led the way on the restart on Lap 77.

With 45 laps to go in the stage, Bowyer was fighting off a challenge from Truex for the lead while Bowman ran third.

On Lap 78, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. got into the wall off Turn 2 which brought out a caution and most of the drivers who did not pit under the previous caution, did so on this one.

Truex was among those who stayed out and inherited the lead when the race restarted on Lap 87. He was followed by Harvick and William Byron.

Blaney tagged the wall on Lap 92 and was forced to pit road for repairs but the race remained under green-flag conditions.

With 30 laps to go in the stage, Truex maintained a small but steady lead over Harvick with Bowyer having moved back up to third on fresher tires.

On Lap 99, Harvick went to the inside of Truex and came away with the lead for the first time in the race.

Cole Custer got into the wall in Turn 2 to on Lap 108 to trigger a caution.

 

All of the lead-lap cars elected to pit with Bowyer the first off pit road. On the restart on Lap 113, Bowyer led the way followed by Truex and Harvick as rain began closing in on the track again.

With 10 laps remaining in the stage, Bowyer was fighting off a challenge from Elliott for the lead with Truex running third.

Stage 1

Bowyer took command early and easily held off Truex to take the Stage 1 victory – his first stage win of the 2020 season.

Blaney ended up third, Alex Bowman fourth and Logano completed the top-five.

Ryan Preece, who started on the pole thanks to starting procedures that included an invert, was passed by Ty Dillon for the lead at the conclusion of the first lap.

On Lap 2 in Turn 3, John Hunter Nemechek got turned around and hit the wall to bring out the first caution. Ty Dillon continued to lead the way on the restart on Lap 8 followed by Preece and Bowyer.

Logano grabbed the lead on the start of Lap 9 and immediately moved out to a big lead.

Nemechek again spun on Lap 12 on the backstretch to bring out another caution. This time, his No. 38 Ford suffered serious damage in the incident.

 

The race returned to green on Lap 15 with Logano out front followed by Ty Dillon and Blaney.

NASCAR threw a competition caution on Lap 26 to allow teams to check for tire wear due to the heavy rains earlier in the day. Most of the lead-lap cars elected to pit with Bowyer the first off pit road.

Bubba Wallace stayed out and inherited the lead on the restart on Lap 31. Bowyer reclaimed the lead on the ensuing lap.

With 20 laps remaining in the first stage, Bowyer had moved out to a more than 1.2-second lead over Blaney. Logano ran third, 1.7 seconds behind the leader.

After 50 laps, Bowyer had built a more than 2 second lead over Blaney with Bowman having moved up to third.

B.J. McLeod and Corey LaJoie had to start the race from the rear of the field to multiple pre-race inspection failures. Erik Jones also had to start from the rear for unapproved adjustments after impound.

shares
comments
NASCAR at Darlington will not start on time due to rain

Previous article

NASCAR at Darlington will not start on time due to rain

Next article

Kyle Busch turns Chase Elliott, admits "I made a mistake"

Kyle Busch turns Chase Elliott, admits "I made a mistake"
Load comments
From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview Prime

From the archive: Dale Earnhardt’s final Autosport interview

The death of Dale Earnhardt in the 2001 Daytona 500 shocked NASCAR to the core. At the Daytona 24 Hours, two weeks before his fatal accident, ‘The Intimidator’ shared his expectations of challenging for an eighth Cup title with JONATHAN INGRAM, in an article first published in the 15 February 2001 issue of Autosport magazine. Little did we know then what tragedy would unfold…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death Prime

The lasting NASCAR legacy after Dale Earnhardt’s death

On February 18, 2001, seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Dale Earnhardt – the fearless ‘Intimidator’ – was in his element at Daytona International Speedway. While his own DEI team’s cars ran 1-2 towards the finish line, his famed #3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo was playing rear gunner to block any late runs from the chasing pack. As the cars tore through Turns 3 and 4 on that fateful final lap, Earnhardt maintained the strongarm tactics that encapsulated his persona… but his actions in those moments sadly proved to be his last.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 18, 2021
Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR Prime

Inspired by Pitbull, the “revolution” sweeping through NASCAR

The NASCAR Cup Series is changing. Whether it be the gradual morphing out the seasoned drivers of yesterday as the next generation step up, a radical calendar shake-up featuring more road courses than ever before and the prospect of an all-new car on the horizon, stock car racing’s highest level is nearing the end of a huge facelift.

NASCAR Cup
Feb 16, 2021
The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021 Prime

The NASCAR storylines to watch out for in 2021

This weekend's Daytona 500 kickstarts a NASCAR Cup season that promises plenty of intrigue courtesy of new owners and a refreshed calendar. Here's what you need to know ahead of the new season…

NASCAR Cup
Feb 13, 2021
Why Kyle Larson can't blow his big shot at redemption Prime

Why Kyle Larson can't blow his big shot at redemption

From a disgraced NASCAR exile, Kyle Larson has been given a chance of redemption by the powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports squad. Effectively replacing seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson is no easy billing, but Larson has every intention of repaying the team's faith...

NASCAR Cup
Feb 11, 2021
Why Roger Penske is an American motorsport icon Prime

Why Roger Penske is an American motorsport icon

In this exclusive one-on-one interview, Roger Penske reveals the inner drive that has made him not only a hugely successful team owner and businessman but also the owner of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IndyCar. He spoke to David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Dec 28, 2020
Why NASCAR's latest second-generation champion is just getting started Prime

Why NASCAR's latest second-generation champion is just getting started

Chase Elliott's late charge to the 2020 NASCAR Cup title defied predictions that it would be a Kevin Harvick versus Denny Hamlin showdown. While the two veterans are showing no signs of slowing down, Elliott's triumph was a window into NASCAR's future…

NASCAR Cup
Nov 18, 2020
Why Kyle Larson deserves his second chance in a cancel culture Prime

Why Kyle Larson deserves his second chance in a cancel culture

“You can’t hear me? Hey n*****” Those fateful words uttered by Kyle Larson, spoken into his esports headset on April 12, were directed at his sim racing spotter – but instead they quickly became amplified around the world via social media, including his own Twitch stream.

NASCAR Cup
Oct 29, 2020