Virginia-Native Denny Hamlin Rallies for Richmond Win

Virginia-Native Denny Hamlin Rallies for Richmond Win

Perhaps there was no better place for Denny Hamlin to finally notch his first win of 2022. Much to the pleasure of the fans at Richmond Raceway, the hometown favourite from Chesterfield, Virginia took the lead of the Toyota Owners 400 from William Byron with five laps remaining and held off the field for a .552-second victory over Kevin Harvick and Byron.

It was amazingly Hamlin’s first top 10 of the 2022 season, though it marked his fourth NASCAR Cup Series victory at the 0.75-mile track – the very place the driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota grew up watching NASCAR as a young fan. 

It is the sixth win for the JGR Toyota team in the last eight races at the Richmond track – the 18th in the team’s history there.  And it is the third consecutive race there that all four JGR drivers finished in the top 10.

The victory was also significant in that the 41-year old Hamlin stopped a 12-race victory run by drivers 30-year old or younger – a mark dating back to last season.

“Just drove as hard as I could,” said Hamlin, a perennial championship contender who had been ranked an uncharacteristic 20th in the standings before the Richmond race.

“So proud of this whole FedEx Camry team, they just never gave up. 

“There was no doubt in my mind, maybe just a little, but they got this car right there towards the end,” Hamlin continued. “Wow, this is just unbelievable.”

We needed a data point, something, a good run to kind of balance ourselves on other tracks. Obviously, I think we got it here.”

Byron and his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet team opted to stay out on older tires for the last 90 laps and at one point held a strong five-second lead on the field. But as the teams opted for fresher tires during a series of late-race green flag pit stops, it became apparent that Byron would have to really work for the win – and do so on worn tires.

Ultimately, Hamlin, who got new tires with 47 laps to go, was able to dice his way through the field, taking the runner-up spot from his JGR teammate Martin Truex Jr. with six laps to go and continue moving forward to dive low and move into the lead around Byron with five laps remaining. Also on fresher tires, Stewart-Haas Racing driver Harvick was able to pass both Byron and Truex to take his best finish of the season as well.

“Really it’s the first clean day we’ve had all year,” said the 2014 series champion Harvick. “The cars have been fast and we had a shot there at the end just, I wanted to be close enough at the white [flag] to just take a swipe at him but the lapped cars got in the way and I lost a little bit of ground. Still a great day for us and hopefully a little bit of momentum.”

Truex, who has three wins in the last five Richmond races, finished fourth, followed by reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion, Hendrick Motorsports Kyle Larson.

JGR driver Christopher Bell was sixth, followed by Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney, the pole-sitter who led the first 128 laps of the race – most on the day. Hendrick Motorsports’ Alex Bowman recovered from a pit road penalty to finish eighth. Kyle Busch recovered from a late-race penalty as well, to claim a ninth place and Richard Childress Racing driver Austin Dillon was 10th

Blaney (first) and Truex (second) each won a stage and are the only three-time stage winners so far this season.

Article by Holly Cain for nascar.com

RESULTS:

  1. Denny Hamlin
  2. Kevin Harvick
  3. William Byron
  4. Martin Truex Jr
  5. Kyle Larson
  6. Christopher Bell
  7. Ryan Blaney
  8. Alex Bowman
  9. Kyle Busch
  10. Austin Dillon
  11. Chase Briscoe
  12. Tyler Reddick
  13. Brad Keselowski
  14. Chase Elliott
  15. Chris Buescher
  16. Daniel Suarez
  17. Joey Logano
  18. Harrison Burton
  19. Ross Chastain
  20. Austin Cindric
  21. Aric Almirola
  22. Cole Custer
  23. Erik Jones
  24. Ty Dillon
  25. Todd Gilliland
  26. Bubba Wallace
  27. AJ Allmendinger
  28. Ricky Stenhouse Jr
  29. Justin Haley
  30. Michael McDowell
  31. Corey Lajoie
  32. Landon Cassill
  33. JJ Yeley
  34. BJ McLeod
  35. Kurt Busch
  36. Cody Ware
  37. Greg Biffle
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