Denny Hamlin advances in Cup playoffs with Las Vegas victory


The second round of this year’s NASCAR Cup Series playoffs began as the first round did – with Denny Hamlin in Victory Lane.

Hamlin won Sunday night’s Round of 12 playoff opener at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, earning his second victory of the season. He earned his first in the Round of 16 opener earlier this month at Darlington Raceway.

MORE: Las Vegas Cup race results, driver points

With Sunday’s triumph, Hamlin is the first driver to advance to the Round of 8.

“It feels so good to win in Vegas,” Hamlin told NBCSN after the race. “Last couple times, I’ve been so close – just didn’t have the right brakes. But they dialed the car in great and we were able to hold those guys off.”

He also avoids major stress over the next two weeks, while his fellow playoff drivers must deal with the unpredictable Talladega Superspeedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (Oct. 10) to close the Round of 12.

“I’m so happy – so happy – to not have to worry about the next two weeks,” Hamlin said. “But I’m a professional, so I’m gonna work just as hard each and every week to win.”

Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott finished second, a little over four-tenths of a second back after he steadily tracked down Hamlin during the final laps.

“We were really close, just not quite close enough,” the reigning Cup Series champion told NBCSN after the race.

“Denny did a good job controlling the gap to me. He was having a hard time with the 21 (Matt DiBenedetto), but I think he was doing a good job of giving himself enough room to him to be able to work the lanes and control the gap back to me.”

Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. finished third and fourth, respectively, giving Joe Gibbs Racing three drivers in the top four. Ryan Blaney of Team Penske finished fifth.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Kyle Larson

STAGE 2 WINNER: Denny Hamlin

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Ousted from the playoffs last week at Bristol, Tyler Reddick responded with a solid drive to sixth place. It’s his 14th top-10 finish of the season. … Kurt Busch also bounced back from playoff elimination at Bristol to finish eighth on Sunday for Chip Ganassi Racing.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Sunday just wasn’t meant to be William Byron‘s night. After having to start from the rear, Byron charged all the way to the lead at Lap 92. Then, following issues during a Lap 133 pit stop, Byron rallied back inside the top 10. But on Lap 225, he had to pit under green for a flat tire. That was one obstacle too many for Byron, who could only recover for 18th at the checkered flag.

POST-RACE PENALTIES: Kevin Harvick‘s ninth-place car was found with two lug nuts not safe and secure in post-race inspection. That infraction will earn his crew chief, Rodney Childers, a one-race suspension for next Sunday at Talladega and a $20,000 fine … Four additional cars were found with one lug nut not safe and secure: Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch, Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez. Their respective crew chiefs are set to be fined $10,000 each for the infraction.

NOTABLE: Chase Briscoe finished 14th after plane issues this morning in Charlotte caused a delayed departure to Las Vegas. While his team left for Las Vegas on Saturday, Briscoe stayed an extra day in Charlotte as he and wife Marissa await the arrival of their first child.

NEXT: Sunday, Oct. 3 – Round of 12, Race No. 2 at Talladega Superspeedway (2 p.m. ET, NBC)

Portland Xfinity race results, driver points

Portland Xfinity results
Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

Cole Custer went from fourth to first on the overtime restart when the top three cars made contact and went on to win Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Portland International Raceway. Custer is the 10th different winner in 13 races this season.

MORE: Portland Xfinity race results

MORE: Driver points after Portland Xfinity race

JR Motorsports took the next three spots: Justin Allgaier placed second, Sam Mayer was third and Josh Berry was fourth. Austin Hill completed the top five.

John Hunter Nemechek remains the points leader after 13 races. He has a 14-point lead on Hill. Nemechek leads Allgaier by 44 points.

Cole Custer wins Xfinity race at Portland in overtime


Cole Custer held off Justin Allgaier at the finish to win Saturday’s Xfinity Series race in overtime at Portland International Raceway. It is Custer’s first victory of the season.

JR Motorsports placed second, third and fourth with Allgaier, Sam Mayer and Josh Berry. Austin Hill finished fifth.

MORE: Race results, driver points

Custer went from fourth to first on the overtime restart when Parker Kligerman, who restarted third, attempted to pass Allgaier, who was leading. Sheldon Creed was on the outside of Allgaier. All three cars made contact entering Turn 1, allowing Custer to slip by. Creed finished seventh. Kligerman placed 14th.

Custer won the second stage when John Hunter Nemechek made contact with Creed’s car while racing for the lead on the final lap of the stage. The contact spun Creed and Custer inched by Nemechek at the line.

Early in the final stage, Creed gained revenge with contact that spun Nemechek, who went on to finish 10th. A few laps later, Nemechek and Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Sammy Smith had issues. Smith spun Nemechek. After getting back around, Nemechek quickly caught Smith and turned into Smith’s car, damaging it.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Sheldon Creed

STAGE 2 WINNER: Cole Custer

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Despite the contact on the overtime restart, runner-up Justin Allgaier managed to score his fourth consecutive top-three finish. … Sam Mayer’s third-place finish is his best on a road course. … Austin Hill’s fifth-place finish gives him four consecutive top-five results.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Daniel Hemric finished 33rd after a fire in his car. … Riley Herbst placed 32nd after an engine issue. After opening the season with six top 10s in a row, Herbst has gone seven races in a row without a top 10.

NEXT: The series competes June 10 at Sonoma Raceway (8 p.m. ET on FS1).

Truck race results at WWT Raceway: Grant Enfinger wins


Grant Enfinger took the lead when the leaders wrecked in the final laps and held off the field in overtime to win Saturday’s Craftsman Truck Series race at World Wide Technology Raceway.

It is Enfinger’s second win in the last five races. He also collected a $50,000 bonus for winning the Triple Truck Challenge.

MORE: Truck race results

MORE: Driver points after WWT Raceway

Christian Eckes finished second and was followed by Stewart Friesen, Carson Hocevar and Chase Purdy.

Ty Majeski and Zane Smith wrecked while racing for the lead with six laps to go. Majeski, running on the inside of Smith, slid up the track and clipped Smith’s truck. Both hit the wall. That put Enfinger in the lead.

Smith finished 20th. Majeski placed 30th.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Grant Enfinger

STAGE 2 WINNER: Stewart Friesen

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Grant Enfinger’s victory is his fourth top 10 in the last five races. … Carson Hocevar’s fourth-place finish is his fourth consecutive top-five result. … Stewart Friesen’s third-place finish moved him into a playoff spot with four races left in the regular season. … Matt DiBenedetto‘s sixth-place finish is his third consecutive top 10. … Jesse Love finished ninth in his series debut.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Ty Majeski had a chance to take the points lead with series leader Corey Heim out because of illness, but Majeski’s 30th-place finish after running at the front most of the day, leaves him behind Heim. … Hailie Deegan finished 32nd after contact sent her truck into the wall hard. … After finishing a career-high third last week at Charlotte, Dean Thompson placed 34th Saturday due to an engine issue.

NEXT: The series races June 23 at Nashville Superspeedway (8 p.m. ET on FS1)

Xfinity starting lineup at Portland: Sheldon Creed wins pole


Sheldon Creed scored his first career Xfinity Series pole by taking the top spot for Saturday’s race at Portland International Raceway.

Creed, making his 50th career series start, earned the pole with a lap of 95.694 mph on the 1.97-mile road course.

MORE: Portland Xfinity starting lineup

Cole Custer will start second with a lap of 95.398 mph. He is followed by Josh Berry (94.242 mph), John Hunter Nemechek (95.127) and Charlotte winner Justin Allgaier (94.897). Road racing specialist Jordan Taylor, driving for Kaulig Racing, qualified sixth at 94.772 mph.

The green flag is scheduled to wave 4:46 p.m. ET Saturday on FS1.