NASCAR Darlington 500: Hamlin wins rain-cut midweek race – NASCAR

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Denny Hamlin used clever strategy to win his second NASCAR Cup Series race of the season at Darlington in a race cut short by rain on Wednesday evening.

In the second race for NASCAR’s return after the hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic – the first NASCAR race on Wednesday since Richard Petty’s 200th victory at Daytona on July 4, 1984 – Joe Gibbs Racing driver Hamlin did not take position with the rest of the first gaggle on lap 195 of the 228 planned following a warning inspired by Matt Kenseth.

Instead, Hamlin chose not to use the cleaned Goodyear tires that his JGR crew had installed on his Toyota Camry 14 laps earlier and formed a breakout group with teammate Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports when the race resumed at round 199.

Entering the right pit on lap 201, with Hamlin in front, Busch tried to slip under the rear wing of Elliott’s Chevrolet Camaro, but the defending champion misjudged the movement and pulled Elliott into the wall stands.

As the warning flags flew while Elliott’s car was cleared, and saluting him with a finger, rain began to fall on the circuit, prompting NASCAR officials to interrupt the race on lap 208.

This gave Hamlin his first win since the opening Daytona 500 of the season and the third victory in his career victory at Darlington, having previously won the 1.3-mile oval in 2010 and 2017.

Kevin Harvick, who was victorious in Darlington’s first race on Sunday, struggled at the start of the mired race in midfield while the top 20 were reversed from Sunday’s race.

Long run allowed Stewart-Haas Racing Harvick Ford Mustang to finally reach the head of the peloton, although he fell back into the third stage of the green flag race, complaining about the lack of grip of his used tires.

He opposed Kenseth’s caution on lap 181 and brought home a third place for SHR, ahead of compatriot Mustang Brad Keselowski (Team Penske), who finished sixth on the last restart.

Erik Jones, who was sent to the back of the field after scrutineering, led an excellent race in fifth place for JGR, despite a wall strike that left him caring for the Camry until the end.

Joey Logano and Aric Almirola had smart races for Penske and SHR, respectively, finishing sixth and seventh, ahead of seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson, eighth for Hendrick Motorsports and best finisher Camaro.

Clint Bowyer won stages one and two, although a 195 lap rotation ruined his chances of winning and contributed to a weak 22nd place, while pole sitter Ryan Preece retired with an engine failure early.

Result – 208 laps

PosDriverTeamCarDifference
1Denny HamlinJoe Gibbs RacingToyota2h42m23.s
2Kyle BuschJoe Gibbs RacingToyotas
3Kevin HarvickStewart-Haas RacingFords
4Brad KeselowskiTeam PenskeFords
5Erik JonesJoe Gibbs RacingToyotas
6Joey LoganoTeam PenskeFords
7Aric AlmirolaStewart-Haas RacingFords
8Jimmie JohnsonHendrick MotorsportsChevrolets
9Matt DiBenedettoWood brothers racingFords
tenMartin Truex Jr.Joe Gibbs RacingToyotas
11Christopher BellLeavine Family RacingToyotas
12William ByronHendrick MotorsportsChevrolets
13Tyler ReddickRichard Childress RacingChevrolets
14Ryan NewmanRoush Fenway RacingFords
15Kurt BuschChip Ganassi RacingChevrolets
16Darrell Wallace Jr.Richard Petty MotorsportsChevrolets
17Michael McDowellFrontline sportsFords
18Alex BowmanHendrick MotorsportsChevrolets
19Ty DillonGermain RacingChevrolets
20Austin DillonRichard Childress RacingChevrolets
21Ryan BlaneyTeam PenskeFords
22Clint BowyerStewart-Haas RacingFords
23Chris BuescherRoush Fenway RacingFords
24Corey LaJoieGo FAS RacingFord1 turn
25Ricky Stenhouse Jr.JTG Daugherty RacingChevrolet1 turn
26Quin HouffStarCom RacingChevrolet1 turn
27Daniel SuarezGaunt Brothers RacingToyota1 turn
28J.J. YeleySpire MotorsportsChevrolet1 turn
29Joey GasePetty Ware RacingChevrolet1 turn
30Matt KensethChip Ganassi RacingChevrolet2 turns
31Cole custerStewart-Haas RacingFord2 turns
32Gaulding grayRick Ware RacingChevrolet2 turns
33Timmy HillMBM MotorsportsToyota4 turns
34Garrett SmithleyRick Ware RacingFord4 turns
35John Hunter NemechekFrontline sportsFord6 turns
36B.J. McLeodBJ McLeod MotorsportsChevrolet6 turns
37Brennan PoolePremium mechanical sportsChevroletTransmission
38Chase ElliottHendrick MotorsportsChevroletAccident
39Ryan PreeceJTG Daugherty RacingChevroletEngine

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