Denny Hamlin caps impressive comeback from pit error to capture Southern 500

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DARLINGTON, S.C. – Denny Hamlin rebounded from a major mistake, taking the lead from Martin Truex Jr. with two laps remaining and hanging on to sweep the weekend at Darlington Raceway.

It was Hamlin’s second 500-mile win at the 1.366-mile oval and his first on Labor Day weekend. He won Friday’s Xfinity race at Darlington from the pole position.

Hamlin had been in control of the race before he missed the pits while leading under green on Lap 315 of 367. He made up a nearly 20-second deficit on the lead over the final 52 laps in his No. 11 Toyota.

“Drove our ass off,” Hamlin told NBCSN’s Rutledge Wood after his second victory of the season and 31st of his career. “That’s as hard as I can drive.”

Kyle Busch finished second, followed by Kurt Busch, Austin Dillon and Erik Jones.

MORE: Race results.

MORE: Points standings.

Trying to defend his 2016 Southern 500 win, Truex nearly made it a sweep of his own after winning the first two stages, but he smacked the while leading on Lap 365 with a flat right-front tire after trying to stretch it on worn rubber after making his final pit stop under green with 62 laps remaining.

The Furniture Row Racing driver finished eighth and clinched the regular-season points championship, ensuring he will have at least 52 playoff points for the 10-race title run that closes the season.

Stage 1: Truex nips Larson for win.

Stage 2: Truex captures 17th stage victory of the season.

HOW DENNY HAMLIN WON: He led four times for 124 laps, overcoming a massive deficit to take advantage of Truex’s misfortune.

WHO HAD A GOOD NIGHT: Kevin Harvick (sixth) became only the 17th driver to score his 300th top 10 in Cup (joining only Jimime Johnson and Matt Kenseth among active drivers). The Stewart-Haas Racing driver will make his 600th start next week. … Runner-up Kyle Busch has finished first or second in three of the past five races. … Kurt Busch (third) earned his best finish since winning the Daytona 500 and led more laps (seven) than in the previous 24 races this season. … Erik Jones has five straight top 10s. … Austin Dillon (fourth) earned his first top five since winning the Coca-Cola 600.

WHO HAD A BAD NIGHT: Clint Bowyer (40th) fell into a must-win situation at Richmond because of an engine problem. … Daniel Suarez crashed out for the second time in three races.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “It’s pretty simple.  You could almost write an article without talking to me.” — Joey Logano, on being asked if his situation was “pretty clear” after finishing 18th and needing a win at Richmond to make the playoffs.

NEXT: The Cup Series will return to action Sept. 9 with the regular-season finale at Richmond International Raceway on NBCSN.

Talladega Xfinity starting lineup: Austin Hill wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — Austin Hill will lead the field to the green flag Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway after scoring his first career Xfinity Series pole.

Hill won the pole Friday with a lap of 182.036 mph. He will be joined on the front row by fellow playoff contender Ty Gibbs (181.981 mph).

MORE: Talladega Xfinity starting lineup

Playoff drivers will start in seven of the top eight spots. The exception is Sheldon Creed, who will start third after a lap of 181.870 mph. Hill and Creed give Richard Childress Racing the first and third starting spots.

Justin Allgaier (181.529) qualified fourth and Brandon Jones (181.305) completed the top five. Noah Gragson, who has won four races in a row, starts sixth after a lap of 181.134 mph and is followed by playoff drivers Josh Berry (181.052) and AJ Allmendinger (180.932).

The Xfinity Series race is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET Saturday on USA Network.

Talladega Truck starting lineup: John Hunter Nemechek wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — John Hunter Nemechek will start on the pole for Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race.

Nemechek earned the pole with a lap of 178.767 mph.

Nemechek is one of four playoff drivers starting in the top six: Chandler Smith (second, 177.732 mph), Zane Smith (fourth, 177.061) and Ty Majeski (sixth, 176.744). Majeski clinched a spot in next month’s championship race at Phoenix with his Bristol win.

MORE: Talladega Truck starting lineup

Also qualifying in the top five were Carson Hocevar (177.068) in third and Matt Crafton (176.960) in fifth.

Failing to qualify are Tim Viens, Spencer Boyd, Jason White and Natalie Decker.

Saturday Talladega Xfinity race: Start time, TV info, weather

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The second race of the opening round of the Xfinity playoffs takes drivers to Talladega Superspeedway.

Noah Gragson secured his spot in the next round by winning last weekend at Texas. Ryan Sieg holds the final transfer spot. Riley Herbst is the first driver below the cutline, one point behind Sieg. Also below the cutline are reigning series champion Daniel Hemric (-8 points), Brandon Jones (-12) and Jeremy Clements (-28).

Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Talladega Superspeedway

(All times Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 4:09 p.m. … Green flag is scheduled to wave at 4:21 p.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 1 p.m. … Driver introductions are at 3:30 p.m. … The invocation will be given at 4 p.m. … The Brookwood High School choir will perform the anthem at 4:02 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 113 laps (300.58 miles) on the 2.66-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 25. Stage 2 ends at Lap 50.

TV/RADIO: USA Network will broadcast the race at 4 p.m. Countdown to Green begins at 3:30 p.m. on USA Network. … Motor Racing Network coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. and also will stream at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.

STREAMING: NBCsports.com

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Sunny with a high of 78 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Noah Gragson won and was followed by Jeffrey Earnhardt and AJ Allmendinger.

 

Could Talladega open door for a record 20th winner?

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Talladega Superspeedway is known for fast speeds, huge drafting packs, sensational wrecks and tight finishes.

On Sunday (2 p.m. ET on NBC), it could be the site of an unexpected record.

Nineteen different drivers have won Cup races this season, tying a record. If a new winner shows up in Talladega victory lane Sunday, it will mark the first time in the sport’s history that 20 drivers have won races in a single season.

One of the remarkable things about that possibility is that the driver who has far and away the best record at Talladega among active drivers is among the group still looking for a win in 2022. That’s Brad Keselowski, who has won six times at NASCAR’s biggest track. No other active driver has more than three. (Keselowski is tied for second on the all-time Talladega win list with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon. Dale Earnhardt tops that list with 10).

Talladega and Daytona tend to reject repeat winners. The past nine races at the two tracks have been won by nine different drivers.

Other seasonal non-winners who could break through at Talladega:

Ryan BlaneyBlaney’s only win this year is in the All-Star Race, so he’s still looking for his first points win while continuing to chase the championship. He won at Talladega in 2019 and 2020.

Martin Truex Jr. — Superspeedways have been a pox on Truex’s career. In 70 races at Talladega and Daytona, he has failed to win.

Aric Almirola — In what has been a disappointing season, Almirola’s best finish is a fifth — twice. He won at Talladega in 2018 but hasn’t had a top 10 in his last four runs there.

Michael McDowell — McDowell’s best finish at Talladega is a third, but he is usually very competitive in the Talladega and Daytona drafts, winning the 2021 Daytona 500.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — Stenhouse won at Talladega in 2017 and usually is a factor in the draft.

Harrison Burton — Burton has had a tough rookie season, but the peculiarities of the Talladega draft should play in his favor. The No. 21 team’s next win will be its 100th.

Justin Haley — Haley has no top-10 runs in five Talladega starts, but he showed potential last week with a third-place finish at Texas.

Corey LaJoie — LaJoie has started nine Cup races at Talladega and has led exactly one lap. His best finish is a seventh.

Noah Gragson — Gragson, the star of this Xfinity season, is in the No. 48 for Hendrick Motorsports with Alex Bowman out because of concussion-like symptoms. In the Talladega draft he could be a threat.