Hamlin wins rough and wild Richmond race
Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota takes the win
Race winner Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Race winner Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
The crew of Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota celebrates
Kurt Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet starts to crash
A.J. Allmendinger, JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet crash
The car of Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing on fire after crashing
A.J. Allmendinger, JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet crash
A huge crash involving several cars
Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing walks away from his crashed car
A huge crash involving several cars

The Chesterfield, Va. native won from the pole to collect his third Sprint Cup victory at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday night. 

Hamlin had a 0.609-second lead over Kyle Larson when he took the checkered flag. 

“Wheels and the whole group gave me a great car,” Hamlin said of his crew chief Mike Wheeler. “They really got it tuned in there for the end of the race. Good restarts. Finally, everything just worked well for us all day.” 

Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski, and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-five finishers in the Federated Auto Parts 400. Truex’s 193 laps were the most led among the seven drivers who shared time in the lead.

Truex failed post-race laser inspection. Any penalties will be announced later this week.

Kasey Kahne, Jamie McMurray, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch and Joey Logano rounded out the top 10. 

Carnage-filled race

The race was slowed by a record-16 cautions. Ryan Blaney triggered the first on Lap 10 when the No. 21 made contact with Trevor Bayne and cut a tire. Blaney limped to the garage for repairs. He returned to the track on Lap 123, 112 laps off of the pace. After multiple pit stops, Blaney eventually finished 40th. 

AJ Allmendinger spun the first time on Lap 86 to trigger the second caution. Hamlin retained the lead and held it through the third caution — when Chase Elliott made contact with his teammate Jeff Gordon on the backstretch and cut a right rear tire on Lap 95. Elliott restarted 24th and despite multiple speeding penalties salvaged a 19th-place finish — to qualify for his first Chase. 

Jimmie Johnson reported debris to NASCAR officials just before midway, then hit the Turn 1 wall after running over something and cutting a tire on Lap 201. Johnson recovered for a 11th-place finish — but the cautions kept coming. David Ragan wrecked in Turn 1 on Lap 245. Fifteen laps later, Ricky Stenhouse and Paul Menard tangled in Turn 2. 

Casey Mears and Matt DiBenedetto collided in Turn 3 on Lap 279, but the No. 13 car rolled on. Michael Annett crashed in Turn 2 on Lap 290, followed by Carl Edwards on Lap 321. Allmendinger’s second spun came on Lap 328 — his third on the front stretch 18 laps later after contact with Clint Bowyer. Contact between Keselowski and Matt Kenseth took the No. 20 out of contention on Lap 336. Kenseth cut a tire and slammed into the Turn 3 wall. 

But it was an eight-car wreck on Lap 363 that nearly dashed the hopes of Chris Buescher on Saturday. Former teammates Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman were battling for 10th-place on the 14th restart — following a second wreck by DiBenedetto. After the drivers made contact through Turns 1 and 2, they wrecked on the back stretch with Buescher behind. 

Once the 20:23 red-flag period ended, the No. 34 team went to work on Buescher’s Ford. He soldiered on to a 24th-place finish. For the first time since 2006, when Hamlin made the Chase, two rookies — Buescher and Elliott — qualified for the post-season. 

“I knew we could get here," Buescher said. "I knew we had a good shot at it. For as much as we had going on, I know David (Ragan) is bummed to get caught up in a wreck and that isn’t how we wanted to clinch it but it made it easier in that sense. 

"The second part was trying to get to the top-30 in owners points and that wasn’t easy either.” 

Overtime

The final yellow flag waving when Regan Smith spun with two laps remaining to send the race into overtime. Hamlin — and the top seven cars behind him stayed out on the track. At the time, he didn’t believe it was the best call. 

But Hamlin held onto the point when the race went green on Lap 405 — and held off Larson for his third win of 2016 and his 29th career cup win.

“We really got a good restart,” said Hamlin, who led seven times for 189 laps. “I concentrated on getting everything as hot as I could, We got a good jump and set sail from there.”

Larson rips through the field on late restart

Larson was running ninth before the last caution. His crew chief Chad Johnston elected to pit for three-lap scuffed tires for the final shootout. He restarted 13th to finish second — his third podium finish in as many starts. 

“It felt like a video game on rookie mode, having fresh tires like that,” Larson said. “That was fun. Our Target car was probably a eighth to tenth car most of the race. I was really good on short runs. I could pass a few cars every restart which really helped us. It seemed like we could never get the race going there at the end of the race, which helped us.  

“Fun, fun last restart, get all the way to second.  I thought I could get to fourth, but second was a little bit better, so that was great. I had a blast there during the last couple laps.”

Chase seeding

With four wins this season, Kyle Busch earned the top seed on the Chase grid followed by Keselowski, Hamlin, Harvick, Edwards, Truex, Kenseth, Johnson, Logano — and Larson, who makes his first Chase appearance.

CLICK HERE for complete Chase seedings

Stewart finished 33rd in his final start at Richmond. He was re-seeded 11th on the Chase grid rolling into Chicagoland. Kurt Busch, Buescher, Elliott, Austin Dillon and Jamie McMurray round out the final 12. 

Hamlin believes his Richmond win is the catalyst he needs in the Chase.

“I said that I thought we were like an 8 1/2 on momentum,” Hamlin said. “I don't believe in 10, so 9, 9 1/2 would be optimum. I said if we won this race we'd go to a 9. Hard for me not to say it's 9 1/2 at this point. It's a great team effort here. We've got everything going for us. A total team effort, just everyone at JGR building these fast, fast cars, can't thank everyone enough.” 

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