Denny Hamlin won a dramatic late-race battle with Kyle Larson and took Sunday’s 400-mile NASCAR Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway.
Hamlin, who hadn’t won in almost a year, chased Larson for the lead over the closing miles, steadily cutting into the gap. He trailed by .30 of a second with 10 laps to go. Hamlin pulled side by side with Larson with five laps to go but couldn’t pass.
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On the last lap, Hamlin nudged Larson’s car in the left rear, pushing Larson into the outside wall. Larson regained control of his car, but Hamlin pushed past and won the race.
“I got position on him there, was trying to side-draft him but clipped his left rear,” Hamlin told FS1. “Glad he was able to at least finish.”
Larson finished second and was followed by William Byron, Bubba Wallace and Ross Chastain.
Chastain and Noah Gragson tangled post-race on pit road after a disagreement about contact between their cars late in the race. After a brief discussion, Gragson grabbed Chastain, and Chastain responded by punching Gragson in the face. They then were separated by NASCAR officials and others.
The win was the 49th of Hamlin’s career and his first since last May at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Larson, who was the race’s top lap-leader with 85, led 46 consecutive laps leading to the finish before Hamlin passed him on the final circuit. Hamlin led 34 laps total.
The race produced a record number of lead changes — 37 — but also a web of cautions. Restarts were particularly crowded and dangerous. The lead change total is the biggest in series history in a 400-mile race on a 1.5-mile track.
Ty Gibbs produced the race’s eighth caution when he made side-to-side contact with Martin Truex Jr. and slid off the track.
Joey Logano stayed on track during a caution late in the second stage and won the stage when another caution flew.
On a restart in packed traffic, Kyle Busch spun and hit the inside wall on Lap 164, forcing him to the garage.
Christopher Bell lost control of his car near the end of Stage 2 and slammed hard into the inside wall off Turn 2. He parked for the day.
Josh Berry, continuing to substitute for the injured Alex Bowman, got in trouble on Lap 149 when he moved up the track and hit Gibbs. The contact sent Berry into a slide and onto pit road.
Hamlin won the first stage, leading 11 laps. Truex, who finished second to Hamlin, led 35 laps in the stage.
Stage 1 winner: Denny Hamlin
Stage 2 winner: Joey Logano
Who had a good race: Kyle Larson rebounded from an early-race spin to race up front and almost win. … William Byron also came back from trouble early in the race, made up two laps and contended for the win. His third-place finish is his best run at Kansas. … Denny Hamlin finally returned to victory lane, winning a tight last-lap battle with Ross Chastain and push his career victory total one short of 50.
Who had a bad race: Chase Briscoe lost a wheel early in the race, starting a day that continued to hold challenges. … Christopher Bell, who entered the race second in points, crashed on Lap 159 after losing control of his car off Turn 2. … Kyle Busch had pit road issues and later crashed in heavy traffic.
Next: The Cup Series moves on to Darlington Raceway for a May 14 race at 3 p.m. ET.