Hamlin Overcomes Loose Wheels To Win Bristol Night Race On Saturday Night

BRISTOL, Tenn – Denny Hamlin started the race weekend at the Bristol (Tenn) Motor Speedway as the favorite. He entered Saturday night’s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race as the hottest driver in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver had scored five consecutive top five finishes in his No. 11 Toyota and backed that up with earning the pole in Friday’s qualifying session.

In the race itself, Hamlin backed that up. He caught Matt DiBenedetto in the end and passed him with 12 laps-to-go to win at Bristol as the Virginia native never looked back en route to his 35th career Cup victory and second in Thunder Valley.

The win though, didn’t come as easy as he would have hoped. Hamlin, started off strong but had a slow pit stop to repair some crash damage on his opening pit stop. He went from the lead to 11th. That’s where his night changed.

Hamlin, couldn’t make up much ground. Then, on Lap 186, he had to pit for a loose wheel which put him two laps down. The problem there was, Aric Almirola crashed on track three laps later which if Hamlin waited a couple of more laps then he likely could have stayed on the lead lap as he could have pit under caution instead.

Then, on Lap 372, he had a second loose wheel but this time, the luck swayed back to his side. The caution just came out as he was saying he needed to pit again and he did get to pit while the yellow flag was out. He’d get on the lead lap and battle back to score another big victory on the season.

He won the Daytona 500 and now Bristol night race in the same season.

DiBenedetto, brought his No. 95 Toyota home runner-up for his best career finish. The Leavine Family Racing driver was very emotional as he found out earlier this week that he wouldn’t be returning to the team in 2020. See, the team was aligning further with JGR and that Christopher Bell needed a place to go. Unfortunately, to no fault of his own, it cost DiBenedetto his ride.

A few days later, he’s battling for the win as he led a race high 93 of 500 laps but came up just short in the end. He now has two top six finishes in his last three starts on the year and five top eight finishes since June 23. That’s more than the team had in its existence prior to 2019.

Brad Keselowski earned his first Bristol top five since 2014 and his first top five on the season since June 30 with a third place finish in his No. 2 Ford.

Kyle Busch started 31st and fought a bad handling race car to still finish fourth in his No. 18 Toyota. It was just his second top five in the last eight races and first since July 13 at the Kentucky Speedway.

Chase Elliott rounded out the top five in his No. 9 Chevrolet.

The playoff standings get tighter as Daniel Suarez made up more ground and is now 16th, two points ahead of his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate of Clint Bowyer.

Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race Results

  1. 11 Hamlin

  2. 95 DiBenedetto

  3.  2 Keselowski

  4. 18 KyBusch

  5.  9 Elliott

  6. 42 Larson

  7. 14 Bowyer

  8. 41 Suarez -1

  9.  1 KuBusch -1

  10. 12 Blaney -1

  11. 6 Newman -2

  12.  8 Hemric R -2

  13. 19 Truex Jr. -2

  14. 43 Wallace Jr. -3

  15. 88 Bowman -3

  16. 22 Logano -3

  17. 37 Buescher -4

  18. 47 Preece R -4

  19. 48 Johnson -4

  20. 13 TDillon -5

  21. 24 Byron -5

  22. 20 Jones -5

  23. 21 Menard -6

  24. 32 LaJoie -7

  25. 00 Cassill -11

  26. 15 Chastain -11

  27. 36 Tifft R -11

  28. 54 Yeley -15

  29. 10 Almirola -18

  30. 27 Houff -22

  31. 52 Weatherman -27

  32. 51 McLeod OUT

  33. 17 Stenhouse Jr. OUT

  34.  3 ADillon -114

  35. 53 Bilicki OUT

  36. 38 Ragan OUT

  37. 34 McDowell OUT

  38. 77 Sorenson OUT

  39.  4 Harvick OUT

#MonsterEnergyNASCARCupSeries #BristolMotorSpeedway #DennyHamlin #BassProShopsNRANightRace #NASCAR

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