Denny Hamlin goes from last to first in Darlington Xfinity win

Denny Hamlin won another NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Darlington, but this one came under much more difficult circumstances.

Denny Hamlin goes from last to first in Darlington Xfinity win

UPDATE: Hamlin's car failed post-race inspection and he has been disqualified. 

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In his five previous series wins at Darlington, Hamlin had won from the pole. Not this time. 

After hitting the wall in practice on Friday, Hamlin had to start Saturday’s SportClips 200 from the rear of the field but that didn’t keep him from the front.

On Lap 121 of 147, Hamlin passed Ryan Blaney for the lead and then held off a furious charge from Cole Custer on the final lap following a restart with 10 to go.

Custer tried to go low on Hamlin through Turns 3 and 4 on the final lap but seemed to get slowed up by the lapped car of Vinnie Miller.

The win is Hamlin’s first of the season and 18th of his career.

“We did not have the best car by any means but luckily the techniques I’ve learned over so many years kind of helped us there,” Hamlin said. “They guys did a great job getting this car ready.

“I put us behind the eight-ball by putting us in a backup car to begin with by making a big old driver mistake. 

“This is amazing to see this turnout here. Darlington gave me my first start in the Xfinity Series and is what got me my job with Joe Gibbs Racing. So, thank you fans, see you tomorrow and hopefully we’ll do it one more time.”

Tyler Reddick ended up third, Blaney was fourth and Christopher Bell completed the top-five. Dale Earnhardt Jr., making his only NASCAR start of the season, finished sixth.

With 40 laps remaining, Blaney maintained small but steady lead over Custer as Hamlin had moved up to third. Reddick ran fourth and Justin Allgaier – despite a few run-ins with the wall – was fifth.

With 30 to go, Blaney remained out front but Hamlin had moved into the runner-up spot and began trying to run down the leader. Custer fell to third.

On Lap 121, Hamlin finally ran down Blaney on the frontstretch to take the lead for the first time.


On Lap 132, Josh Williams spun off Turn 4 and slammed into the inside retaining wall to bring out a caution. All of the lead-lap cars elected to pit and Hamlin was the first off pit road.

Hamlin led the way on the restart with 10 laps remaining followed by Custer, Blaney, Reddick and Earnhardt Jr.

Stage 2 

Blaney got around Reddick with six of 45 laps remaining and held on for the Stage 2 win over Allgaier.

Reddick ended up third, Custer was fourth and Hamlin rounded out the top-five.

Following the break between Stages 1 and 2, all of the lead-lap cars elected to pit with Reddick the first off pit road. On the restart on Lap 53, Reddick was followed by Bell and Blaney.

Brandon Brown spun off Turn 2 after the restart and was tagged by Noah Gragson to bring another caution. The race returned to green on Lap 57 with Reddick still in the lead.

With 30 laps remaining in the second stage, Reddick held a small advantage over Blaney. They were followed by Chase Briscoe, Allgaier and Custer.

After 70 laps, Hamlin had made his way up to the sixth position and was closing in on Custer for fourth.

With 24 laps remaining in the stage, Blaney caught Reddick and got side-by-side with him twice but was unable to complete the pass.

On Lap 85, Blaney finally went to the inside of Reddick and cleared him to retake the lead in the race.


With two laps to go, Blaney had already moved out to a more than 1.2-second lead over Reddick as Allgaier moved to third.

On the last lap, Allgaier got into the wall as he battled Reddick for the runner-up position.

Stage 1 

Reddick held off a strong challenge from Blaney to take the Stage 1 win.

Bell was third, Briscoe fourth and Allgaier rounded out the top-five.

Blaney, who started on the pole, moved out to a 2-second lead over Reddick after eight laps. Hamlin, who started from the rear of the field, had already moved up to 15th.

On Lap 12, John Hunter Nemechek spun off Turn 4 and narrowly avoided Haley to bring out the first caution of the race. 

Only a couple of drivers elected to pit under the caution. When the race returned to green on Lap 17, Blaney continued to lead followed by Reddick and Bell.

Reddick got around Blaney shortly after the restart to take the lead for the first time in the race.

With 20 laps remaining in the first stage, Reddick maintained a small lead over Blaney with Bell running in third.

After 35 laps, Reddick had expanded his lead over Blaney to 1.2 seconds while Bell remained third. Briscoe was fourth and Custer ran fifth.

Four drivers had to start the race from the rear of the field – Hamlin for going to a backup car and B.J. McLeod, J.J. Yeley and Morgan Shepherd, all for unapproved adjustments.

Cla # Driver Manufacturer Laps Time Laps Led
1 18 United States Denny Hamlin  Toyota 147 1:41'08.0 27
2 00 United States Cole Custer  Ford 147 0.602  
3 2 United States Tyler Reddick  Chevrolet 147 1.670 70
4 12 United States Ryan Blaney  Ford 147 2.688 50
5 20 United States Christopher Bell  Toyota 147 3.422  
6 8 United States Dale Earnhardt Jr.  Chevrolet 147 4.258  
7 98 United States Chase Briscoe  Ford 147 5.002  
8 19 United States Brandon Jones  Toyota 147 5.038  
9 9 United States Noah Gragson  Chevrolet 147 5.943  
10 7 United States Justin Allgaier  Chevrolet 147 6.853  
11 22 United States Austin Cindric  Ford 147 8.496  
12 11 United States Justin Haley  Chevrolet 147 10.636  
13 51 United States Jeremy Clements  Chevrolet 147 10.754  
14 1 United States Michael Annett  Chevrolet 147 11.717  
15 39 United States Ryan Sieg  Chevrolet 147 12.008  
16 08 United States Gray Gaulding  Chevrolet 147 12.282  
17 07 United States Ray Black Jr.  Chevrolet 147 12.676  
18 90 Canada Alex Labbé  Chevrolet 147 12.988  
19 01 United States Landon Cassill  Chevrolet 147 13.188  
20 4 United States B.J. McLeod  Chevrolet 147 26.178  
21 93 United States Camden Murphy  Chevrolet 146 1 lap  
22 23 United States John Hunter Nemechek  Chevrolet 146 1 lap  
23 99 Stefan Parsons  Toyota 146 1 lap  
24 66 United States Timmy Hill  Toyota 146 1 lap  
25 36 United States Josh Williams  Chevrolet 144 3 laps  
26 35 United States Joey Gase  Toyota 144 3 laps  
27 15 United States Stephen Leicht  Chevrolet 144 3 laps  
28 52 United States David Starr  Chevrolet 144 3 laps  
29 78 United States Vinnie Miller  Toyota 143 4 laps  
30 0 United States Garrett Smithley  Chevrolet 143 4 laps  
31 61 United States Chad Finchum  Toyota 133 14 laps  
32 5 United States Matt Mills  Toyota 128 19 laps  
33 74 United States Mike Harmon  Chevrolet 114 33 laps  
34 86 United States Brandon Brown  Chevrolet 85 62 laps  
35 17 United States Joe Nemechek  Chevrolet 72 75 laps  
36 13 United States Tommy Joe Martins  Toyota 61 86 laps  
37 38 United States J.J. Yeley  Chevrolet 34 113 laps  
38 89 United States Morgan Shepherd  Chevrolet 27 120 laps  

With help from Dale Jr., Noah Gragson hoping for Darlington win

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Event Darlington
Author Jim Utter