DARLINGTON, S.C. – Denny Hamlin took the lead three laps from the finish to win Saturday’s Xfinity race at Darlington Raceway and lead a 1-2-3 finish for Joe Gibbs Racing. It’s the third consecutive year that JGR has placed all of its cars in the top five in this race.
Hamlin started on the pole, dominated more than half of the race but had to rally when the team did not fill his fuel tank about halfway through the 147-lap race. That forced him to pit early and he raced his way back to the lead.
MORE: Race results
MORE: Points standings
Hamlin, who led 117 laps, passed teammate Daniel Suarez for the lead with three laps to go, completing the race in a record 1 hour, 25 minutes, 14 seconds.
Kyle Busch finished second. Suarez placed third but won the $100,000 Dash for Cash bonus. Kevin Harvick was fourth with points leader Chris Buescher fifth.
HOW DENNY HAMLIN WON: He had the best car but had to rally after an issue on pit road. Hamlin’s team did not fill the fuel tank during a pit stop on Lap 72. After emptying the first can of fuel in the car, the team’s fueler struggled with the second fuel can and never got it connected to the car. That forced Hamlin to pit ahead of others and he rallied back with fresh tires to win.
WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: Daniel Suarez scored his fifth top-five finish in the last nine races by placing third. … Chris Buscher’s fifth-place finish was his third top-five finish in the last 10 races. … Landon Cassill and Ross Chastain gambled on fuel and made it to the end. Cassill finished a season-best eighth. Chastain was 10th.
WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Paul Menard started fifth but was on pit road on Lap 8 believing he had a tire going down. He fell two laps behind with the stop and finished 25th. … Ty Dillon struggled with the car’s handling throughout the race and placed 15th – his worst finish in the last eight races. … Chase Elliott’s engine soured late and he lost speed, finishing 24th.
NOTABLE: Brian Scott made contact with Chase Elliott a couple of times while racing for 11th place with less than 50 laps to go, leading Elliott to say on the radio: “Tell his spotter if he does that one more time he’s not going to like the outcome.’’ … Runner-up Kyle Busch has finished no worse than fourth in six series races this year. … Chris Buescher expanded his points lead to 29 points on Ty Dillon.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “The 20 had the best car,” Kevin Harvick said of winner Denny Hamlin.
WHAT’S NEXT: The series races Sept. 11 at Richmond International Raceway on NBCSN.