Toyota driver Hamlin comes from two laps down for Bristol NASCAR win


Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin recovered from being two laps down to beat Leavine Family Racing’s Matt DiBenedetto in the NASCAR Cup race at Bristol.

Hamlin had led the race in the opening stages before clipping Jimmie Johnson’s Chevrolet as the Hendrick Motorsports’ driver was collected when Austin Dillon suffered a puncture.

While Hamlin’s fender damage was repaired, his race further unravelled when he suffered a loose wheel in stage two, pitting one lap prior to a caution period and subsequently dropping to two laps down.

He recovered to the lead lap with a free pass at the end of the stage, working his way back into the top 10 for the final restart with one fifth of the 500 lap race remaining.

While Hamlin surged through the field, DiBenedetto drove around the outside of points’ leader Kyle Busch at Turn 3 and then passed Erik Jones as he slid into the wall at Turn 3, bagging the race lead.

Hamlin eventually caught DiBenedetto to set up a duel for the win in the final 20 laps, with the JGR driver making the race winning pass with just 12 laps to go to take his fourth win of the 2019 season.

DiBenedetto, who is searching for a 2020 Cup seat having announced on Thursday that he will not be retained by the Leavine Family Racing team, ended up second for his fifth top five of the season and beating his previous career best result of fourth.

Brad Keselowski finished third for Penske, ahead of JGR’s Kyle Busch.

Wrong-footed in qualifying and lining up 31st on the grid, Busch also required a free pass in stage two in order to recover to the lead lap.

He gambled on strategy at the start of the final stage, seizing the lead by staying out.

A well timed caution at lap 362 when Alex Bowman suffered a puncture allowed Busch to avoid a green flag pitstop and retain his track position.

Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott was fifth ahead of stage one winner Kyle Larson who drove his Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet to sixth.

Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick briefly led the race in stage two before a transmission failure during a pitstop led to an extensive repair which removed him from contention.

Despite finishing in seventh place ahead of fellow playoff hopeful Daniel Suarez in eighth, Clint Bowyer has fallen below the playoff cut-line.

He failed to score points in the opening two stages while a strategic move from Suarez propelled him to bag nine additional points for finishing second in stage two.

Stage winner Kurt Busch and Suarez were among a number of drivers who opted to stay out when a late stage caution, triggered by a spinning Bowyer, led to a number of drivers diving into the pits.

Bowyer is now two points behind Suarez and below the cut-line in 17th place after being leap-frogged by his team-mate.

Seven-time champion Johnson has now slipped to 26 points adrift of playoff qualification after finishing in 19th, with only two races of the regular season remaining.

Race result

Pos Driver Team Car Laps Gap
1 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 500
2 Matt DiBenedetto Leavine Family Racing Toyota 500 s
3 Brad Keselowski Team Penske Ford 500 s
4 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 500 s
5 Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 500 s
6 Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 500 s
7 Clint Bowyer Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 500 s
8 Daniel Suarez Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 499 1 Lap
9 Kurt Busch Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 499 1 Lap
10 Ryan Blaney Team Penske Ford 499 1 Lap
11 Ryan Newman Roush Fenway Racing Ford 499 1 Lap
12 Daniel Hemric Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 499 1 Lap
13 Martin Truex Jr. Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 498 2 Laps
14 Darrell Wallace Jr. Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet 498 2 Laps
15 Alex Bowman Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 497 3 Laps
16 Joey Logano Team Penske Ford 497 3 Laps
17 Chris Buescher JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 497 3 Laps
18 Ryan Preece JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 497 3 Laps
19 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 496 4 Laps
20 Ty Dillon Germain Racing Chevrolet 496 4 Laps
21 William Byron Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 496 4 Laps
22 Erik Jones Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 495 5 Laps
23 Paul Menard Wood Brothers Racing Ford 495 5 Laps
24 Corey LaJoie Go FAS Racing Ford 494 6 Laps
25 Landon Cassill StarCom Racing Chevrolet 490 10 Laps
26 Ross Chastain Premium Motorsports Chevrolet 490 10 Laps
27 Matt Tifft Front Row Motorsports Ford 487 Suspension
28 J.J. Yeley Rick Ware Racing Ford 485 15 Laps
29 Aric Almirola Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 482 18 Laps
30 Quin Houff Premium Motorsports Chevrolet 478 22 Laps
31 Kyle Weatherman Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet 474 26 Laps
32 B.J. McLeod Petty Ware Racing Chevrolet 410 90 Laps
33 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Roush Fenway Racing Ford 391 109 Laps
34 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 387 113 Laps
35 Josh Bilicki Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet 373 127 Laps
36 David Ragan Front Row Motorsports Ford 371 Accident
37 Michael McDowell Front Row Motorsports Ford 368 Accident
38 Reed Sorenson Spire Motorsports Chevrolet 269 Clutch
39 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 244 Clutch

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