THE RISK AT KANSAS PAYS OFF FOR HAMLIN
by Zachary Hinson Mon, 2019-10-21 16:58
Denny Hamlin really wants the championship this year, and he proved how badly he wants it with another win under his belt for the season to clinch into the Round of eight and put himself in prime position to possibly advance to the Championship four.
The race week continued with the already crazy events of Talladega and the Kaulig and JTG Daugherty hauler issues on the way to the track with the surprise front row in qualifying of David Ragan in second and rookie Daniel Hemric picking up the first pole of his Cup career and Kevin Harvick not being able to make a qualifying lap after failing inspection three times. The green waved and Hemric was away as the field went four-wide to get by an already falling Ragan while Ryan Blaney drove to second. Blaney caught Hemric and began to go low to try the pass but it just wasn’t working; the two of them racing allowed Kyle Larson to catch them and go high to take the lead. Shortly after, Brad Keselowski began to move through the top five and got to the lead but lost it again as Larson kept riding in the high-line. The issues began for the playoff drivers early as Alex Bowman got loose trying to pass Bubba Wallace; no caution as the two were able to keep it going but Bowman’s rear fender got flared out and he started to fall as the run went on. Ryan Newman and Ragan both had to pit with flat tire issues after hitting the wall out of the corners while Joey Logano also had to pit for a vibration which put him two laps down. The green flag stops started a few laps later with Keselowski who was beginning to fall through the field. Larson stayed out a while and nearly had a major problem as he stalled the car after he pitted. Bowman tried to stay out later than anyone so he could get his lap back but after a few laps he had to pit as he was sputtering, and Larson got the lead back. The first caution of the day came out after Newman cleared himself on his teammate, Ricky Stenhouse Jr, and slammed the wall with only six laps to go in the stage. Kyle Busch was the first off pit-road, but it wouldn’t matter as quite a few cars stayed out to get up front and get a shot at the stage win. Crazy restart as Logano, who got his laps back from not pitting went three-wide to get the lead and Daniel Suarez goes very low and makes it five-wide to get into third right behind Chase Elliott. Logano went on to win the stage; holding off a hard-charging Elliott. Meanwhile, under caution Kyle Busch had to get some damage repair from getting knocked around a little on the restart.
On the restart, Suarez got a push from Martin Truex Jr. to get by Elliott for the lead, but Truex then followed through on the bottom to get into the lead. Jimmie Johnson then joined the growing list of drivers scraping the wall and having to pit with the caution coming out shortly after for Joey Gase getting spun by Kyle Larson who had caught him as Gase was riding the top lane to let other drivers by. Truex won off pit-road while Larson got an uncontrolled tire penalty and Kyle Busch had his hood up; fixing a throttle issue. The drivers wasted no time going four-wide again as Truex got away with the lead and Hamlin right behind him. Hamlin then was able to get right beside Truex and after a few laps of battling, Hamlin finally got the lead. With no problems from there on, Hamlin was able to just cruise on to the stage win.
Hamlin won off pit-road and got to lead on the stage three start with Truex and Blaney right behind him and Kyle Busch beginning to make ground on them after a few laps. The racing stabled out but the race for the last playoff spot between Elliott and Keselowski began to tighten up as Keselowski began falling through the field. Green flag stops then came and cycled out with Hamlin keeping the lead. The battle for the playoffs got even tighter then as Hamlin lapped Keselowski which separated him and Elliott by only three points. As Kyle Busch began to reel in Hamlin, the caution came out for Blaney’s tire shredding and throwing debris after he made wall contact. Hamlin and Larson only took two tires to get the lead while Keselowski was forced to take the wave-around to get back on the lead lap. Hamlin had to fight Larson to keep the lead on the restart while Elliott came out of nowhere on the top lane to also compete for the lead. Caution then came out as Bubba Wallace’s left rear tire hub broke and he spun and collected Matt Tifft as the entire wheel came off. On the restart, Kyle Busch gave Hamlin a strong push to get them away from Elliott. The end was held off once again though as Suarez got loose in a four-wide situation and got slammed into the wall and ran into by Hemric. Logano also unneeded heavy damage but was able to continue on and avoid being hurt too much in the points. The green-white-checkered restart began, and Chase Elliott was able o get to second to guarantee himself a position in the round of eight as Keselowski couldn’t keep his car off the wall and continued to fall through the field. Meanwhile, Denny Hamlin got away to win the Hollywood Casino 400 for his fifth win of the season; putting him in many championship favorite talks.