It took longer than expected but on a day (and night) that saw the race stopped multiple times because of rain and lightning, Denny Hamlin celebrated a dominant win Sunday night at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Hamlin won both stages and passed Chase Elliott for the lead with 30 laps to go to score his third Cup victory of the season and 40th of his career. Hamlin led a race-high 137 of the 267 laps.
Elliott pressured Hamlin with about 15 laps to go before falling back and watching the chance for the victory slip away.
“I still don’t think we’re at the top of our game with our team yet,” Hamlin said. “I think we’re still got some room to get better. I’m pretty happy that we’re able to reel off some wins right now given the circumstances.
Said Elliott: “I just need to get through lapped traffic better.”
Hamlin’s victory came in crew chief Chris Gabehart’s first race back after a four-race suspension for ballast falling out of Hamlin’s car before the start of the Coca-Cola 600.
This was the first Cup race held with spectators since the season resumed. Up to 1,000 military members were guests of the track.
The start of the race was delayed 43 minutes by rain and lightning and then stopped for 81 minutes after the fifth lap because of lightning.
After that delay ended, teams fired engines again. But before cars could leave pit road, another lighting strike happened within 8 miles of the track, leading to another delay. That lasted 2 hours, 8 minutes, pushing the resumption of the race past 7 p.m. ET.
The race went to Lap 33 before another lightning strike delayed the race at 7:30 p.m. ET. That was the final delay of the night because of weather.
STAGE 1 WINNER: Denny Hamlin
STAGE 2 WINNER: Denny Hamlin
WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Richard Childress Racing had both its cars finish in the top 10. Tyler Reddick placed fourth. Austin Dillon finished seventh. … Aric Almirola’s fifth-place finish was his first top-10 finish in the last six races.
WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Kevin Harvick‘s finished a season-worst 26th. He was hurt by a flat right rear tire after contact with the wall with less than 70 laps left. … Ryan Newman had a spin and struggled throughout the race, finishing 30th.
NOTABLE: Tyler Reddick’s fourth-place finish was the first top 10 by a rookie at Miami since David Ragan did so in 2007.
NEXT: The series races June 21 at Talladega Superspeedway (3 p.m. ET on Fox)