Hamlin’s Dramatic Kansas Victory

Denny Hamlin's dramatic Kansas victory in the NASCAR Cup Series Super Start Batteries 400 presented by O'Reilly Auto Parts on Thursday, July 23rd at Kansas Speedway.
KANSAS CITY, KANSAS – JULY 23: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Office Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Super Start Batteries 400 Presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts at Kansas Speedway on July 23, 2020, in Kansas City, Kansas. Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Hamlin’s dramatic Kansas victory in the NASCAR Cup Series Super Start Batteries 400 presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts makes five wins this season on Thursday, July 23rd at Kansas Speedway.

In what could be a sneak preview of the Championship 4 race later this year, Denny Hamlin outdueled Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, and Martin Truex Jr. to win the Super Start Batteries 400 presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts Thursday night at Kansas Speedway.

After a wild restart on lap 246, Hamlin passed Harvick for the lead on lap 255 of 267 and held off a late charge from Keselowski to score his NASCAR Cup Series-best fifth victory of the season, his third at Kansas and the 42nd of his career.

Hamlin led four times for a race-high 57 laps to rebound from three sub-par finishes in what otherwise has been a stellar season for the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota team.

“I don’t know if we had the best car—we definitely had a top-three car all day,” said Hamlin, who has won two straight races at Kansas. “We just went and got it there at the end. I saw the (No.) 4 (Harvick) getting loose, and usually, when you’re loose, you’re not able to run up high, and that was a benefit for us to be able to get that momentum going…

“We’ve had a rough three weeks—we were leading at Indy when we blew a tire, but it seems like we’re really hitting on all cylinders right now.”

Harvick has a Loose Car

Moments after the final restart, Harvick made a deft move to slip past Hendrick Motorsports teammates William Byron and Alex Bowman. Hamlin followed and started to close the gap by running the top lane on the 1.5-mile track. Harvick’s car was too loose to take Hamlin’s line, and after chasing for eight laps, Hamlin made the pass for the lead with relative ease.

“We needed a miracle,” said Harvick, who spent most of the night running in or near the top five, before grabbing his short-lived lead on the final run. “Our Busch Light Apple Ford Mustang was really loose. We got a couple good restarts and had a couple good laps, but we were in trouble there regardless, if it didn’t just keep going yellow.

“Our guys did a good job keeping us in the fight all night, but we definitely have some work to do.”

Brad Keselowski Stage Two Winner

Keselowski followed Hamlin past Harvick, and Truex soon followed to secure the third position. Truex led 44 laps and Keselowski 30 in a race that featured a surfeit of action, as the 11 cautions implied.

“I thought Denny and I were probably pretty close to equal the second half of the night,” said Keselowski, who picked up his fifth stage win of the season in Stage 2. “It was just a matter of who got out in front. We didn’t get out in front on the restarts there, and he was able to take advantage and bring home the win. All in all, it was still a really good day.”

Kyle Busch Stage One Winner

Kyle Busch led 52 laps and won the first 80-lap stage to collect his first Playoff point of the season, but his race fell apart with 40 laps left when he slid into the outside wall and was forced to pit road with a flat right-front tire.

Busch recovered to finish 11th, but the reigning series champion saw his winless streak reach 19 races, his longest drought to start a season since his first full-time campaign in 2005.

NASCAR Cup Series Point Standings

The race was a disaster for seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, who came to Kansas two points inside the current Playoff cut line. Johnson was an innocent victim of a lap 176 wreck triggered when Joey Logano slapped the outside wall after his left front tire lost air.

Matt DiBenedetto and Austin Dillon also were collected in the crash, but Johnson suffered the most, finishing 32nd and dropping to 18th in the standings. Johnson is now eight points behind Sunoco rookie Tyler Reddick in the race for the final playoff berth.

The Top-Ten

Harvick held the fourth position at the finish. Erik Jones ran fifth, followed by Aric Almirola (scoring his eighth straight top-ten), Cole Custer, Bowman, Kurt Busch, and Byron. In the race for the regular-season championship, Harvick leads second-place Keselowski by 97 points.

NASCAR Cup Series Race – 10th Annual Super Start Batteries 400 presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts

Kansas Speedway

Kansas City, Kansas

Thursday, July 23, 2020

               1. (10)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 267.

               2. (7)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, 267.

               3. (5)  Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 267.

               4. (1)  Kevin Harvick, Ford, 267.

               5. (21)  Erik Jones, Toyota, 267.

               6. (3)  Aric Almirola, Ford, 267.

               7. (24)  Cole Custer #, Ford, 267.

               8. (6)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 267.

               9. (9)  Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 267.

               10. (15)  William Byron, Chevrolet, 267.

               11. (8)  Kyle Busch, Toyota, 267.

               12. (11)  Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 267.

               13. (23)  Tyler Reddick #, Chevrolet, 267.

               14. (19)  Clint Bowyer, Ford, 267.

               15. (36)  Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 267.

               16. (27)  Michael McDowell, Ford, 267.

               17. (14)  Matt Kenseth, Chevrolet, 267.

               18. (37)  Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 267.

               19. (30)  John Hunter Nemechek #, Ford, 266.

               20. (4)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, 266.

               21. (31)  Corey LaJoie, Ford, 266.

               22. (28)  JJ Yeley(i), Ford, 265.

               23. (22)  Christopher Bell #, Toyota, 264.

               24. (32)  Quin Houff #, Chevrolet, 260.

               25. (33)  Josh Bilicki(i), Chevrolet, 260.

               26. (26)  Garrett Smithley(i), Chevrolet, 260.

               27. (16)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 251.

               28. (18)  Ryan Newman, Ford, 251.

               29. (34)  Joey Gase(i), Ford, 251.

               30. (29)  Brennan Poole #, Chevrolet, 219.

               31. (39)  Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, Electrical, 216.

               32. (20)  Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, DVP, 200.

               33. (13)  Chris Buescher, Ford, Accident, 182.

               34. (35)  Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, Accident, 181.

               35. (2)  Joey Logano, Ford, Accident, 176.

               36. (12)  Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, Accident, 175.

               37. (17)  Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, Accident, 170.

               38. (38)  Timmy Hill(i), Toyota, Electrical, 116.

               39. (40)  BJ McLeod(i), Chevrolet, Rear Gear, 66.

               40. (25)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, Electrical, 58.

Super Star Batteries 400 Stats

Average Speed of Race Winner:  121.835 mph.

Time of Race:  Three Hrs, 17 Mins, 14 Secs. The Margin of Victory:  0.510 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  11 for 47 laps.

Lead Changes:  22 among nine drivers.

Lap Leaders:   J. Logano 1-27;M. Truex Jr. 28-30;K. Busch 31-82;D. Hamlin 83-96;M. Truex Jr. 97-101;B. Keselowski 102-104;M. Truex Jr. 105-106;B. Keselowski 107-114;M. Truex Jr. 115-144;R. Blaney 145-158;B. Keselowski 159-162;R. Blaney 163;D. Hamlin 164-192;M. Truex Jr. 193-196;W. Byron 197-199;D. Hamlin 200;W. Byron 201-205;B. Keselowski 206-220;W. Byron 221-239;A. Bowman 240-245;K. Harvick 246-254;D. Hamlin 255-267.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Denny Hamlin four times for 57 laps; Kyle Busch one time for 52 laps; Martin Truex Jr. five times for 44 laps; Brad Keselowski four times for 30 laps; Joey Logano one time for 27 laps; William Byron three times for 27 laps; Ryan Blaney two times for 15 laps; Kevin Harvick one time for nine laps; Alex Bowman one time for six laps.

Stage 1 Top-Ten: 18,11,19,12,2,8,4,10,88,20

Stage 2 Top-Ten: 2,12,10,11,18,4,20,19,48,9