Denny Hamlin beats William Byron in Michigan Xfinity race in narrow finish

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Denny Hamlin edged William Byron by 12-thousandths of a second in the closest Xfinity Series finish at Michigan International Speedway.

Byron had led at the white flag of the Irish Hills 250 after a restart with two laps to go. Hamlin caught Byron on the backstretch and the two battled all the way to the finish line.

The previous closest margin of victory – 0.192  – was in in August 2000 when Todd Bodine beat Michael Waltrip.

It is Hamlin’s 16th Xfinity win. The finish was setup by a Matt Tifft spin with five laps to go.

“(Byron) did a great job,” Hamlin told Fox Sports 1. “I knew he had a really good car during that last long run we had, he was about to pass me. He’s done a great job. … I wanted to race him clean. I wasn’t going to turn him or anything like that. I stayed below him and it got him a little bit loose through (Turn) 1 and 2. That allowed me to get into position. Then into Turn 3, we both got sideways. He slid up enough to let just let me get to the right rear. It was just enough to drag race by him.”

For Byron, it’s the best career finish for the JR Motorsports rookie and his third top five of the season.

“We were so close, it really hurts to be that close and not win,” Byron told Fox Sports 1. “(Hamlin) got the side-draft off of me off of (Turn) 4 and that’s the run he need to the line. Just couldn’t quite get enough to get back to him … It hurts, but we’ll get one soon.”

Filling out the top five was Byron, Elliott Sadler, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch.

Stage 1 winner: Brad Keselowski

Stage 2 winner: Elliot Sadler

MORE: Race results

MORE: Points standings

WHO HAD A GOOD DAY: Pole-sitter Kyle Busch bounced back from a Lap 1 accident to finish fifth in his fourth Xfinity of the year … Elliott Sadler finished third for his best result at Michigan in 13 starts … Ty Dillon finished sixth to tie his best result of the year … Paul Menard finished seventh for his first top-10 finish in three Xfinity starts this season.

WHO HAD A BAD DAYMichael Annett, Ben Kennedy, JJ Yeley and Brandon Jones were in a Lap 38 wreck at the start of Stage 2 that began when Jones got loose on the backstretch. Annett, Kennedy and Yeley were eliminated from the race. Jones bounced back to finish ninth … Justin Allgaier finished 16th in his first finish outside the top 15 since Atlanta.

NOTABLE: Denny Hamlin is the 10th different driver to win a Xfinity race this season … Joe Gibbs Racing has four wins with three different drivers.

WHAT’S NEXT: American Ethanol E15 250 at Iowa Speedway at 8:30 p.m. ET on June 24 on Fox Sports 1

NBC Sports Power Rankings: Denny Hamlin remains No. 1 after Kansas

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For the second consecutive week, Denny Hamlin is atop this week’s NBC Sports’ NASCAR Power Rankings.Hamlin was selected unanimously.

Making the biggest jump in the rankings was Kyle Busch (from tied for seventh last week to No. 2 this week).

Falling the most was Ryan Blaney, who dropped from second last week to a tie for ninth this week.

Here are the power rankings ahead of the Round of 8 playoff race at Martinsville Speedway (3 p.m. ET on NBC):

1. Denny Hamlin (40 points): Kansas win is his fifth of the season, tying for his most victories in a season since 2012. The question grows louder: Is this the year he finally wins a Cup title? Last week: First.

2. Kyle Busch (34 points): While he remains mired in one of the longest winless streaks of his career, it’s hard to imagine him not rising to the occasion in the next three races to assure his spot at Miami. Last week: Tied for seventh.

3. Chase Elliott (33 points): He just barely avoided elimination at Kansas. He needs to win one of the next three races if he’s to be assured of racing for the championship. The question is, can he? Last week: Third.

4. Martin Truex Jr. (29 points): Slow pit stop late hurt him but still finished sixth. Has five finishes of seventh or better in the last six races. Last week: Tied for seventh.

5. Kevin Harvick (23 points): It’s time for “the Closer” to reemerge in the next three races to lock himself into a championship berth at Miami. Don’t be surprised if he wins at Texas or Phoenix – or both. Last week: Sixth.

6. Jimmie Johnson (11 points): While his strong performance in the last five races – four top-10s and one 11th-place finish – has come a little too late, Johnson could really shake up the playoffs with a win in the third round. He’s capable and has been building towards it. Will it happen? Last week: Unranked.

7. Kyle Larson (10 points): Not a clean day at Kansas. He and his team need to step up in the Round of 8. Last week: Tied for fourth.

8. William Byron (9 points): After a strong Kansas showing, could be a dark horse in the final four races. While eliminated from the playoffs, he still has the potential to win a race, particularly at a short track like Martinsville or Phoenix. Last week: Unranked.

(tie) 9. Joey Logano (8 points): Yes, Joey is right, every point matters. That attitude is why he’s still alive in these playoffs. Last week: Tied for fourth.

(tie) 9. Ryan Blaney (8 points): See Kyle Larson. It’s pretty much the same story for Blaney. Last week: Second.

Others receiving votes: Clint Bowyer (6 points), Kurt Busch (3 points), Ryan Preece (3 points), Brandon Jones (2 points), Matt DiBenedetto (1 point).

Goodyear tire info for Martinsville Speedway

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NASCAR Cup and Truck teams continue their respective playoffs this weekend at Martinsville Speedway.

The Cup Series begins its Round of 8, while the Gander Outdoors Truck Series will contest its middle race of the Round of 6.

Cup and Truck teams will run the same tire setup at Martinsville, the same tires both series have run at the .526-mile bullring since 2017.

It’s getting later in the fall and we are likely to have cloudy conditions and temperatures in the 60-degree range at Martinsville this week, so track temps will be low, making it more difficult for the track to take rubber,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing. “Because of the time of year we run at Martinsville, we’ve worked hard over the past several years to come up with a tread compound that will lay rubber in the concrete corners, even in cool temperatures.

Generally, Martinsville has produced some of the best racing on the circuit and that only seems to have been enhanced by the track consistently taking rubber and having multiple racing lines. We continue to work on keeping up with Martinsville and making adjustments where needed, holding a test there this past summer and looking ahead to 2020 when we will have a full fledged night race at the track.”

According to wunderground.com, the forecast calls for a temperature of 58 degrees with a 40 percent chance of rain at the scheduled 1:30 p.m. ET start time for Saturday’s Truck race, and a temperature of 66 degrees with a 19 percent chance of green flag at the 3 p.m. ET scheduled start time for Sunday’s Cup race.

Here is the tire information for this weekend’s races at Martinsville:

Tire: Goodyear Eagle Short Track Radials

Set limits: Cup: 3 sets for practice, 1 set for qualifying/start of race and 9 sets for race (8 race sets plus 1 set transferred from qualifying or practice); Truck: 5 sets for the event.

Tire Codes: Left-side — D-4588; Right-side – D-4722

Tire Circumference: Left-side — 2,221 mm (87.44 in.); Right-side — 2,251 mm (88.62 in.)

Minimum Recommended Inflation: Left Front — 10 psi; Left Rear — 10 psi; Right Front — 23 psi; Right Rear — 22 psi

As on most NASCAR ovals 1 mile or less in length, teams will not run inner liners in their tires at Martinsville.

NASCAR penalty report after Kansas

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NASCAR issued one penalty from this past weekend’s racing action at Kansas Speedway.

Chris Gayle, crew chief for the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing NASCAR Cup Toyota driven by Erik Jones, has been fined $10,000 for lug nut(s) not properly installed following Sunday’s race.

There were no penalties assessed to the teams of Cole Custer and Tyler Reddick stemming from the altercation following Saturday’s Xfinity Series race.

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Ron Hornaday Jr., Bobby Labonte to take part in Martinsville Truck race activities

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Martinsville Speedway will honor one NASCAR Hall of Famer and one inductee before Saturday’s NASCAR Hall of Fame 200 Truck Series race.

Hall of Famer Ron Hornaday Jr. will serve as grand marshal for the race, while Bobby Labonte, who will be inducted into the Hall in January, will serve as the honorary starter.

Bobby Labonte. Photo: Getty Images.

We are honored to have 2018 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Ron Hornaday Jr. as Grand Marshal and 2020 inductee Bobby Labonte as Honorary Starter at the first NASCAR Hall of Fame 200,” NASCAR Hall of Fame executive director Winston Kelly said in a statement. “Ron is the series’ only four-time champion. As the 2000 premier series champion and 1992 Xfinity champion, Bobby is one of only 31 drivers who has won races in all three NASCAR national series with his lone truck series win coming at Martinsville.”

Said Clay Campbell, president of Martinsville Speedway: “We appreciate the NASCAR Hall of Fame making it possible to have two great NASCAR champions available to meet our fans Saturday morning before the NASCAR Hall of Fame 200. Having Ron and Bobby be a part of our race weekend is special for everyone at Martinsville Speedway.”

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