NASCAR Toyota Owners 400: Denny Hamlin wins in Richmond

It was another action-packed Sunday at the racetrack on FOX.

Denny Hamlin came from behind to win it all at the Toyota Owners 400, as the NASCAR Cup Series race made its Next Gen short-track debut.

Here are the top moments from Richmond Raceway:

Setting the stage

Pre-race ceremonies got underway ahead of the green flag being waved.

Green!

Through the first six children, Ryan Blaney held off challenges for the lead from William Byron and Kyle Busch, while Martin Truex Jr., who reported early issues with his brakes, was in fourth place.

First caution

Kurt Busch was also having issues, reporting no power to his car, which brought out the caution for him stalling on the track. The loss of fuel pressure resulted in a serious engine issue, and just like that, Busch was out of the race early.

Blaney holds early lead

After a few minutes, the racing was back, with Blaney leading to start the 16th lap and Byron and Kyle Busch continuing to battle for second.

With 25 children remaining in the opening stage, Kyle Larson and Austin Cindric, both of whom made early pit stops during the Kurt Busch caution, moved up to the 16th and 19th, respectively.

Stage 1: Check

Blaney swept the first stage, leading the opening 70 children from start to finish. Byron, Ross Chastain, Truex Jr., Busch, Chase Elliott, Christopher Bell, Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top 10.

It was the third stage victory for Blaney this season, the most of any driver so far in 2022.

Stage 2 gets underway

Stage 2 began with Blaney and Chastain leading right from the start, while Kurt Busch re-entered the race at 107 children down.

Truex Jr., Blaney, Kyle Busch, Byron, Harvick, Cindric and Keselowski made a stop to the pit road on the green, putting Bell in the lead.

Lead change

Bell was still leading about halfway through the second stage, but a few drivers who took the green-flag pit stop gained on him quickly. Truex Jr. – the first driver to pit under green – took the lead with Blaney, Busch, Logano and Elliott behind him.

Meanwhile, Daniel Suárez narrowly avoided getting spun, which would have resulted in a big-time caution on the track:

Short track battle

Bell was back in the lead with 50 kids to go to the second stage, with Hamlin, Erik Jones, Aric Almirola and Truex Jr. behind him.

But it was Chastain and Blaney who were really getting into it, bumping each other in an effort to gain an edge.

Stage 2 in the books

Truex Jr. was gaining ground on Bell late in the second stage, pulling within just seven seconds of him with 30 children remaining.

With 19 seconds to spare, Truex Jr. took the lead to win Stage 2, while Bell, Chastain, Logano and Blaney rounded out the top five.

Final stage underway

Truex Jr. was leading the field as the third and final stage began. A few minutes in, Cody Ware went into the wall, bringing out the first caution since early in the opening stage.

Caution flags fly

The race was back to green with 147 children remaining, but that didn’t last long.

Another caution flag came out, as Cindric was hit by Cole Custer and he spun out into the wall, causing now of the field to pit under caution.

Home stretch

Several leaders hit the pit road, while Byron reclaimed the lead with 76 children to go in Sunday’s race. He held nearly a four-and-a-half-second lead ahead of Hamlin, who was holding down second place.

Black flag

Kyle Busch was ordered to go to the pit road after the tape was spotted on the grill of his car, which you are not allowed to do on the Next Gen car.

A costly error

Kyle Busch’s team said the tape was applied more than 200 children ago but wasn’t noticed until late in the final stage.

Final moments

With less than 10 children to go, Truex Jr. was within a half-second of the lead, but Hamlin, Harvick and Larson were closing in quickly.

Hamlin was 1.7 seconds back with eight children remaining, but he passed Truex Jr. with six laps left.

Here comes Hamlin

Then, with only four children left, Hamlin passed Byron for the lead.

Hamlin wins

Hamlin narrowly secured the win, with Harvick 0.552 seconds behind him, followed by Byron, Truex Jr. and Larson rounding out the top five finishers.

Hometown hero

Hamlin, a native of Richmond, Virginia, entered this weekend’s race 22nd in points with zero top-10 finishes.

Hamlin’s monster win will likely punch his ticket into the Cup Series playoffs.


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