Long: Denny Hamlin’s All-Star win provides moments $1 million can’t top


CONCORD, N.C. – His white polo shirt made it easy to follow J.D. Gibbs’ path as he deftly wound his way by purple-and-black clad crew members on the crowded stage.

Denny Hamlin, enjoying the spoils of his Sprint All-Star Race victory, never saw Joe Gibbs’ son approach. J.D. Gibbs grabbed Hamlin from behind and bear hugged him.

Together again.

The cameras, crowd and colleagues faded around them, as the longest-tenured driver in Joe Gibbs Racing’s four-team stable and the man who pushed the organization to take a chance on a Late Model racer embraced.

They are more than boss and employee. More than friends. The 34-year-old Hamlin calls Gibbs his second dad. When Hamlin arrived at Joe Gibbs Racing in 2004, the company’s namesake was in his second stint coaching the Washington Redskins. It was J.D. Gibbs, team president, who guided Hamlin.

“He was the one that looked after me, called me when I did something wrong, praised me when I did something right,’’ Hamlin said.

That it was Hamlin who delivered JGR’s first All-Star win after countless disappointments and close calls proved fitting. That Gibbs – undergoing treatment for symptoms impacting brain function – was at the track made the moment more special.

This was only third race the 46-year-old Gibbs has attended since the team revealed his health condition March 25, stating that his symptoms include speech and processing issues.

Gibbs was at Talladega Superspeedway two weeks ago and Kansas Speedway last week. Saturday, his wife and children joined him at Charlotte Motor Speedway, sharing the win together.

“Just brings tears to your eyes,’’ Gibbs told NASCAR Talk.

For years, the emotion has been anything but pleasant for Joe Gibbs Racing at this event.

Four times JGR cars finished second. Six other times, JGR cars placed third. One year the organization was five laps from winning before it lost the lead. Another year the team had the dominant cars only to see two of them fall out early because of engine failures.

“So many times we left here just mad and frustrated,’’ said Todd Meredith, who has been with the team since 1992, is a former pit crew member and serves as JGR’s chief operations officer.

Saturday’s All-Star Race was the final major Sprint Cup race Joe Gibbs Racing had yet to win in 24 seasons. The team has three Cup championships, three Brickyard 400 wins, three Southern 500 triumphs, a Daytona 500 victory and a Coca-Cola 600 win.

As Meredith talked about Saturday’s race, J.D. Gibbs came up behind him and howled in excitement.

The moment would not have been possible had Gibbs not gone to a test at Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway looking at drivers to join the organization only to see that the best candidate was the kid shaking down the cars.

When Hamlin rewarded Gibbs’ faith by finishing eighth at Darlington Raceway in his debut of what is now the Xfinity Series, it made it easy to give Hamlin a ride at that level in 2005 and a chance to join the Cup team later that year. In a head-to-head tryout with JJ Yeley for the No. 11 ride late in the 2005 season, Hamlin scored three top-10 finishes in seven starts and had a pole. He moved into the No. 11 car’s seat in 2006 and has been there since.

While Hamlin has scored 25 career points wins, he called Saturday’s victory the biggest of his career.

Yet, it didn’t seem as if he and JGR would be celebrating.

Although Hamlin took the lead off pit road to begin the final 10-lap segment, Kurt Busch restarted beside him. Busch had been fast all night and led 24 laps, yet Hamlin left Busch in his wake on the restart. Busch never made up the lost ground and finished third, ending the night by apologizing on the radio to the team for the restart and then unleashing a string of expletives.

Hamlin’s troubles weren’t over, though. Kevin Harvick, who has three wins and the points lead this season, chased Hamlin and appeared poised to pass.

This time, Harvick didn’t. Nothing bad happened to Hamlin and a JGR car – after trying for nearly a quarter century – had won the All-Star race.

The feeling was so new that some team members ran to Victory Lane, not realizing that the winner’s celebration takes place on a stage at the start/finish line to be closer to the fans. Everybody eventually made it.

“You win, it’s like ‘Oh my gosh … we won!’ ” Gibbs said.

They hugged, smiled and shouted for pictures. They basked in the confetti, fireworks and feeling of accomplishment. They celebrated a $1 million paycheck.

No matter what the money buys Hamlin and the team, it cannot provide the true measure of this win.

For the man who believed in Hamlin and now fights a health issue, J.D. Gibbs got the chance to stand with his family next to the trophy and celebrate.

“It was awesome,” Gibbs said.

Joe Gibbs Racing built itself around family. And it ended Saturday night celebrating as family.

Xfinity Series playoff standings entering first round

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The Xfinity Series playoffs begin this weekend with a 12-driver field set to compete for the championship.

The playoffs start Saturday night with a race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Chase Briscoe and Austin Cindric start the postseason tied after they each earned 50 playoff points during the regular season.

More: Las Vegas entry lists

The last four drivers in the standings are Ryan Sieg (2,002 points), Michael Annett (2,002), Riley Herbst (2,001) and Brandon Brown (2,000).

Here are the full playoff standings entering the Round of 12.


Cup playoff standings entering Round of 12

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The Round of 12 in the Cup playoffs has arrived following Saturday night’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Eliminated from contention were Matt DiBenedetto, Ryan Blaney, Cole Custer and William Byron.

The second round begins Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

More: Entry lists for Las Vegas

Kurt Busch begins the round last in the standings with 3,0001 points.

Here is the full playoff standings entering the Round of 12.

Drivers in yellow are those who will compete in the Round of 12. Drivers in red were eliminated at the end of the first round.

Cup playoff standings


NASCAR entry lists for Las Vegas

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The Round of 12 begins this weekend for the Cup Series and NASCAR’s entry lists for Las Vegas Motor Speedway are out.

All three national series will compete at the 1.5-mile track as the Xfinity Series begins its playoffs and the Truck Series holds its second playoff race.

More: Bristol winners and losers

Here are the preliminary entry lists for Las Vegas:

Cup – South Point 400 (7 p.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN)

Thirty-nine cars are entered for the first race of the Round of 12.

Joey Logano won at Las Vegas in the spring over Matt DiBenedetto and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. This race was won last season by Martin Truex Jr. over Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski.

Click here for the Cup entry list.


Xfinity – Alsco 300 (7:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN)

Thirty-four cars are entered in the Xfinity playoff opener.

Daniel Hemric is entered in JR Motorsports’ No. 8 Chevrolet.

Austin Hill is entered in Hattori Racing Enterprises’ No. 61 Toyota.

Chase Briscoe won at Las Vegas in February over Austin Cindric and Ryan Sieg. This race was won last year by Tyler Reddick over Christopher Bell and Brandon Jones.

Click here for the Xfinity entry list.


Trucks – World of Westgate 200 (9 p.m. ET Friday on FS1)

Thirty-six trucks are entered.

Ryan Truex is entered in Niece Motorsports’ No. 40 Chevrolet.

IndyCar driver Conor Daly will make his Truck Series debut in Niece Motorsports’ No. 42 Chevrolet.

Travis Pastrana is entered in Niece Motorsports’ No. 45 Chevrolet for his second start of the season.

Kyle Busch won at Las Vegas in February over Johnny Sauter and Austin Hill. Austin Hill won this race last year over Ross Chastain and Christian Eckes.

Click here for the Truck entry list

NASCAR 2020 schedule: Times, TV channels, stream info and tracks for Cup series

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The second round of the NASCAR 2020 Cup series playoffs will begin on Sunday, September 27 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Coverage begins at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

William ByronCole CusterMatt DiBenedetto and Ryan Blaney saw their championship hopes end last Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway where Kevin Harvick stole the show with his ninth win of the season. Harvick’s victory at Bristol marked a career-best milestone as his previous best was eight wins back in 2018.

Click here to see the NASCAR entry lists for Las Vegas 

    RELATED: Bristol Cup results, driver points report

NASCAR 2020 Schedule Playoffs – Round of 12

Sept. 27 – South Point 400

Time: 7 p.m.
Track: Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Oct. 4 – YellaWood 500

Time: 2 p.m.
Track: Talladega Superspeedway

Oct. 11 – Bank of America Roval 400

Time: 2:30 p.m.
Track: Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL

Playoffs – Round of 8

Oct. 18 – Hollywood Casino 400

Time: 2:30 p.m.
Track: Kansas Speedway, 2:30 p.m.

Oct. 25 – Texas 500

Time: 3 p.m.
Track: Texas Motor Speedway

Nov. 1 – Xfinity 500

Time: 2 p.m.
Track: Martinsville Speedway

Championship – Round of 4

Nov. 8 – NASCAR Cup Series Championship

Time: 3 p.m.
Track: Phoenix Raceway


Daytona 500

Date: Feb. 17
Winner: Denny Hamlin

Pennzoil 500 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Date: Feb. 23
Winner: Joey Logano (video)

Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway

Date: March 1
Winner: Alex Bowman

FanShield 500 at Phoenix Raceway

Date: March 8
Winner: Joey Logano (video)

The Real Heroes 400 at Darlington Raceway

Date: May 17
Winner: Kevin Harvick

Toyota 500 at Darlington Raceway

Date: May 20
Winner: Denny Hamlin (video)

Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway

Date: May 24
Winner: Brad Keselowski

Alsco Uniforms 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway

Date: May 28
Winner: Chase Elliott  (video)

Supermarket Heroes 500 – at Bristol Motor Speedway

Date: May 31
Winner: Brad Keselowski

Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway

Date: June 7
Winner: Kevin Harvick

Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway

Date: June 10
Winner: Martin Truex Jr. (video)

Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway

Date: June 14
Winner: Denny Hamlin (video)

Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway

Date: June 22
Winner: Ryan Blaney

Pocono Organics 325 at Pocono Raceway

Date: June 27
Winner: Kevin Harvick

Pocono 350 at Pocono Raceway

Date: June 28
Winner: Denny Hamlin

Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 at The Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Date: July 5
Winner: Kevin Harvick

Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway

Date: July 12
Winner: Cole Custer

NASCAR All-Star Race

Date: July 15
Winner: Chase Elliott

O’Reilly Auto Parts 500

Date: July 19
Winner: Austin Dillon

Super Start Batteries 400

Date: July 23
Winner: Denny Hamlin

Foxwoods Resort Casino 301

Date: Aug. 2:
Winner: Brad Keselowski

FireKeepers Casino 400

Date: Aug. 8
Kevin Harvick

Consumers Energy 400

Date: Aug. 9
Kevin Harvick

NASCAR Cup Series Race at Daytona Road Course

Date: Aug. 16
Chase Elliott

NASCAR Cup Series Race at Dover

Race 1

Date: Aug 22
Denny Hamlin

Race 2

Date: Aug. 23
Kevin Harvick

Coke Zero Sugar 400

Date: Aug. 29
William Byron

Playoffs – Round of 16

Date: Sept. 6 
Kevin Harvick

Date: Sept. 12
Brad Keselowski

Date: Sept. 19
Kevin Harvick

For more on the NASCAR 2020 schedule, news and information, read NASCAR Talk