Hamlin takes thrilling Southern 500 win after Truex blows tire

The Lady in Black bit Martin Truex Jr. with three laps remaining and she turned the lead and the win over to Denny Hamlin.

Hamlin takes thrilling Southern 500 win after Truex blows tire

Hamlin pulled off the double at Darlington Raceway this weekend after winning the Xfinity Series race on Saturday. He came back on Sunday for his 31st-career Monster Energy Cup Series race.

“I drove my ass off, that’s as hard as I can drive,” Hamlin said after winning his first Southern 500. “I love this race track. This is the Southern 500 -- it doesn't get much better than this.”

Hamlin led a race-high 124 laps —tied with Kyle Larson — for his second victory at the 1.366-mile track.

Kyle Busch finished second, 2.599-seconds behind his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate. Kurt Busch was third followed by Austin Dillon, Erik Jones, Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman. Truex won the first two stages but slapped the wall in Turn 4 and finished eighth — the last car on the lead lap. Despite winning the regular season title, Truex called the night “bittersweet”.

After an extended caution — and an opportunity to pit — Denny Hamlin led the field to green on Lap 205 followed by Kyle Busch, Keselowski, Larson, Truex, Harvick, Kurt Busch, Logano, Kenseth and Newman. Austin Dillon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Erik Jones, Ty Dillon, Michael McDowell, Chris Buescher, Aric Almirola, Jimmie Johnson, Paul Menard, Kasey Kahne and Chase Elliott completed the top 20 for Stage 3.

The race barely got running when David Ragan spun in Turn 1 to bring out the seventh caution. He was running 25th at the time. Hamlin held the point followed by Kyle Busch, Keselowski, Larson, Truex, Harvick, Kurt Busch, Logano, Newman, Kenseth.

The race returned to green on Lap 210 with Hamlin in the lead with Kyle Busch alongside. The top 12 stretched out single filed after the first couple of laps. Five laps in, Hamlin’s lead was .474-seconds over Kyle Busch followed by Keselowski, Larson, Truex, Harvick, Kurt Busch, Logano, Newman, Kenseth, Jones, Austin Dillon, Johnson, Elliott and Earnhardt.

Trevor Bayne received his second Darlington stripe on Lap 221 in Turn 4. He limped onto pit road. Ryan Blaney followed his fellow Ford on Lap 224 after damaging the No. 21 Ford in Turns 1 and 2 after wrecking in the first stage. One lap later, Ragan joined the parade back to pit road.

Hamlin held a half-second lead over Busch with 140 laps remaining. Keselowski, Larson, Truex, Harvick, Kurt Busch, Logano, Kenseth and Newman rounded out the top 10.

Hamlin extended his advantage to 2.4-seconds over Busch with 125 laps to go. Truex passed Larson for third followed by Keselowski, Harvick, Kurt Busch, Newman, Logano and Austin Dillon.

Harvick radioed to the No. 4 team, “This is the worst we’ve been.”

Logano was first to pit out of the top 10 on Lap 248. Kyle Busch, Truex and McMurray came on the next lap followed by Larson and Newman on Lap 250. Hamlin pitted from the lead on Lap 252 along with Harvick and Kurt Busch. 

When the pit stops cycled out, Truex took the lead on Lap 259. Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Landon Cassill, Larson, Kurt Busch, Keselowski, Harvick, Logano, Kenseth, Austin Dillon, Newman, McMurray, Jones, Johnson, Almirola, Ty Dillon, Earnhardt, Elliott and McDowell rounded out the top 20.

The eighth caution flag waved on Lap 260 for debris in Turn 1. The leaders pitted again —and Hamlin regained the lead. Truex, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Harvick, Logano, Kenseth, Keselowski, Newman and Dillon rounded out the top 10. McMurray, Cassill, Jones, Johnson, Almirola, Ty Dillon, Elliott, Earnhardt, Menard and McDowell completed the top 20 when the race restored to green on Lap 265.

Kurt Busch whipped around the Nos. 18 and 78 Toyotas for second-place on Lap 267. With 100 laps remaining, Harvick ran fifth followed by Logano, Kesneth, Keselowski, Dillon and Newman.

Busch closed to within .370-seconds over the next 10 laps. Truex ran third followed by Harvick, Kyle Busch, Kenseth, Logano, Dillon, Keselowski and Jones.

Harvick reported a loose wheel on Lap 280 while running fourth. He told his crew he was losing rear grip. Meanwhile, his teammate crept closer to Hamlin, looking inside of the No. 11 entering Turn 4.

Kyle Busch passed Harvick for fourth on Lap 285. Keselowski received right rear damage to his car and began dropping through the field. He was 17th with 80 laps remaining.

Hamlin began pulling away from Kurt Busch and with 75 laps to go, Truex passed the No. 41 for second. Kyle Busch remained fourth followed by Harvick, Kenseth, Austin Dillon, Logano, Jones and Newman.

Harvick pitted on Lap 295 with Earnhardt. Keselowski came on the next lap followed Jimmie Johnson, Almirola, Kenseth, McMurray, Larson, Austin Dillon and Kurt Busch.

Hamlin was still leading on Lap 300 followed by Truex, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon, Cassill and Menard. Dillon pitted from fifth. Harvick moved up to sixth — one lap off the pace while waiting for the leaders to pit. Truex pit from second on Lap 304. Menard and Kurt Busch pitted one lap later.

Hamlin held a 8.297-second lead over Kyle Busch with 55 laps remaining. Hamlin came in hot to the pits on Lap 314 and missed the entry. Hamlin had to make another lap and came with Busch off the lead lap for service on Lap 315. Harvick cycled out to the lead on Lap 316 followed by his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kurt Busch with Truex, Kenseth, Austin Dillon, Jones, Johnson, Elliott, Larson and Logano in pursuit.

Busch took the lead from Harvick on Lap 319. Truex passed Harvick for second on the next lap. Kenseth, Dillon, Jones, Johnson, Elliott, Larson and Newman rounded out the top 10. Truex tracked Busch with 45 laps to go — working the high line through Turns 3 and 4. Truex made the move for the lead entering Turn 1 on Lap 325.

“My bad,” Busch said. The team attempted to assuage the driver, explaining Truex was on fresher tires. Harvick remained third followed by Kenseth, Dillon. Dillon passed Kesenth for fourth on Lap 327.

Hamlin and Kyle Busch moved back into the top 10 on Lap 329 as Truex lapped Keselowski — the 17th-place car on the track. Keselowski came in for service on Lap 333. Jones pitted on Lap 336.

With 30 laps remaining, Truex held a 3.273-second lead over Kurt Busch. Dillon ran third followed by Hamlin and Kyle Busch. Harvick dropped to sixth followed by Elliott, Larson, Newman and Johnson. On Lap 339, the Hamlin-Busch train blew by Dillon for third and fourth, respectively.

Johnson pitted on Lap 340. Earnhardt came with what he determined to be a cut tire on the next lap. Elliott pitted with his Hendrick teammate.

Truex extended his lead to 5.2-seconds over Kurt Busch with 23 laps remaining. Hamlin held third followed by Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon, Harvick, Newman, Larson, McMurray and Logano. Ty Dillon was the 11th — and final car on the lead lap.

With 20 laps remaining, Hamlin passed Kurt Busch on the inside for second. His brother made the move on the next lap. Austin Dillon hung on to fifth.

Logano pitted from 10th with 17 laps to go.

Truex held a four-second lead over Hamlin with 10 laps to decide the race — but the No. 11 was catching him. Truex lapped Larson one lap later to leave 10 cars on the lead lap. Truex’s advantage over Hamlin was less than a second with five laps to go. Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch and Austin Dillon.

Truex hit the wall with three laps remaining in Turn 4 and Hamlin took the lead.

Watch a recap of the race and the Victory Lane interview with Denny Hamlin:

 

Cla#DriverManufacturerLapsTimeLaps LedPoints
1 11 united_states Denny Hamlin  Toyota 367 3:46'38 124 57
2 18 united_states Kyle Busch  Toyota 367 2.599 6 43
3 41 united_states Kurt Busch  Ford 367 11.587 7 38
4 3 united_states Austin Dillon  Chevrolet 367 12.929   36
5 77 united_states Erik Jones  Toyota 367 20.550   37
6 20 united_states Matt Kenseth  Toyota 367 22.164   32
7 31 united_states Ryan Newman  Chevrolet 367 26.303   30
8 78 united_states Martin Truex Jr.  Toyota 367 36.642 76 49
9 4 united_states Kevin Harvick  Ford 366 1 lap 22 43
10 1 united_states Jamie McMurray  Chevrolet 366 1 lap   34
11 24 united_states Chase Elliott  Chevrolet 366 1 lap   26
12 48 united_states Jimmie Johnson  Chevrolet 366 1 lap   25
13 13 united_states Ty Dillon  Chevrolet 366 1 lap   24
14 42 united_states Kyle Larson  Chevrolet 366 1 lap 124 39
15 2 united_states Brad Keselowski  Ford 366 1 lap 3 33
16 27 united_states Paul Menard  Chevrolet 366 1 lap   21
17 37 united_states Chris Buescher  Chevrolet 366 1 lap   20
18 22 united_states Joey Logano  Ford 366 1 lap   22
19 95 united_states Michael McDowell  Chevrolet 365 2 laps   18
20 43 united_states Aric Almirola  Ford 365 2 laps   17
21 34 united_states Landon Cassill  Ford 365 2 laps 5 16
22 88 united_states Dale Earnhardt Jr.  Chevrolet 365 2 laps   15
23 72 united_states Cole Whitt  Chevrolet 364 3 laps   14
24 5 united_states Kasey Kahne  Chevrolet 364 3 laps   13
25 38 united_states David Ragan  Ford 363 4 laps   12
26 10 united_states Danica Patrick  Ford 363 4 laps   11
27 32 united_states Matt DiBenedetto  Ford 362 5 laps   10
28 23 united_states Corey Lajoie  Toyota 360 7 laps   9
29 17 united_states Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  Ford 358 8 laps   8
30 33 united_states Jeffrey Earnhardt  Chevrolet 356 11 laps   7
31 21 united_states Ryan Blaney  Ford 356 11 laps   6
32 55 united_states Derrike Cope  Toyota 351 16 laps   5
33 66 united_states Carl Long  Chevrolet 350 17 laps    
34 47 united_states A.J. Allmendinger  Chevrolet 340 27 laps   3
35 6 united_states Trevor Bayne  Ford 336 31 laps   2
36 83 united_states Gray Gaulding  Toyota 202 165 laps   1
37 51 united_states Cody Ware  Chevrolet 144 223 laps   1
38 19 mexico Daniel Suarez  Toyota 125 242 laps   1
39 15 united_states Reed Sorenson  Chevrolet 104 263 laps   1
40 14 united_states Clint Bowyer  Ford 18 349 laps   1
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Truex clinches regular season title with Stage 2 win at Darlington

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