NAS: Denny Hamlin nips Kyle Larson late for Cup Series win at Kansas
Denny Hamlin stormed around Kansas Speedway in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, clipped leader Kyle Larson on the last lap and won Sunday’s AdventHealth 400 NASCAR Cup Series race in Kansas City, Kan.
On the hottest race day of the season — 89 degrees — Larson tried to close out his third win of the year, but he couldn’t hold off Hamlin’s charge in the No. 11 Camry over the last five laps.
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After running third over much of the final 50 laps, Hamlin caught Larson off Turn 2 after taking the white flag and tapped the No. 5 Chevrolet on the backstretch.
That turned Larson’s Camaro into the wall. Hamlin then roared away to his first win since Charlotte’s 600-miler last Memorial Day weekend and the fourth of his career at Kansas Speedway.
The victory was the 49th of the 42-year-old Hamlin’s career and 400th win overall for Joe Gibbs Racing.
“I got position on him and was trying to side-draft him, but I clipped his left rear,” said Hamlin, whose four wins at Kansas are a track record. “Glad he was able to at least finish.”
Larson fought an ill-handling car.
“I was really loose. I was trying to do what I could to manage it,” Larson said. “He was a little bit better than me at the end. … (His side-drafting) kind of had me out of control.”
Polesitter William Byron finished third, followed by Bubba Wallace and Ross Chastain in a race that featured the most lead changes (38) in a 400-miler in NASCAR history.
Chastain and driver Noah Gragson were involved in a postrace incident on pit road, with the Trackhouse Racing driver appearing to punch Gragson in the face.
“Noah and I have a very similar attitude on the race track,” Chastain said. “We train together, we prepare together and we know every little thing about each other. I definitely crowded him up off of (Turn) 4, and he took a swipe at us in (Turn) 3 and then he came down and grabbed ahold of me.
“A very big man once told me we have a no-push policy here at Trackhouse.”
After winning the 10th pole of his 192 career starts and second this season, Hendrick Motorsports’ Byron paced the field for the first time from the top starting position at the 1.5-mile track, with teammate Larson beside him in the 36-car group.
However, Byron’s No. 24 Chevrolet got loose off Turn 2, and though he was able to collect it, he quickly lost the lead. Tyler Reddick created the first caution on Lap 5 when he clipped Larson’s No. 5 Chevy while exiting Turn 4.
Riding momentum following Monday’s victory at his home track at Dover, Del., Martin Truex Jr. led 35 circuits in the first stage. But teammate Hamlin passed him in the closing laps to earn the segment’s bonus points.
Stage 2 was hectic at the end with Christopher Bell and Kyle Busch slamming the inside wall in separate incidents. Joey Logano stayed out on old tires and found his way up front, beating Michael McDowell for the bonus points.
–Field Level Media
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