Denny Hamlin Gets up Close and Personal with Bowman at Martinsville

“Big Picture Denny…Big Picture”

Alex Bowman crossed the finish line first at the Xfinity 500 in the close confines of Martinsville Raceway. Bowman got the win amid one of the greatest Playoff battles in NASCAR history. Chase Elliott, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, and Brad Keselowski, were all in need of a win and they fought for it with everything they had. Take a look back at the race at “The Clip”

Nice and Easy

Kyle Larson led the field to the green flag in the race for the Grandfather Clock. Number five sat at the front as he has usually done this season, Hamlin on the other hand, was stuck at the bottom of the pack after failing the pre-race inspection. Ryan Newman brought the first caution on lap 71after spinning on turn 4.

Credit: DraftKings

Elliott took the lead for the restart and kept both Martin Truex Jr. and Larson in check Denny Hamlin had made considerable progress by that point as he was running 16th. Austin Dillon hit the was and had heavy damage on the right front side of his number 3 car but with only seven laps to go, that was not enough to bring out a yellow flag and prevent Elliott from winning stage one. The NAPA Autoparts driver would find similar fortune on the second stage.

Two In, Two Left

Larson took the green flag once again to begin the second stage. Elliott however, got the best of him off turn two and got the lead back quickly. Christopher Bell was running three spots behind them and didn’t look too bad himself. He was running 5th in what has been a somewhat lackluster season for him despite winning at the Daytona Road Course.

Playoff driver Joey Logano was not having as good of a day as those three. Team Penske’s 22 car was already being passed by Larson on lap 14. Larson came all the way from the back of the field after a speeding penalty. Not a good sign for the Penzoil car. Austin Dillon had a flat tire and hit the wall hard with 60 laps to go and brought another caution. Truex Jr led the pack off the restart after a pitstop cycle.


Hendrick’s number 5 made his way to the top and managed to get himself a stage win despite the penalty. Number 9 was too much for him that time as he won the stage and locked his place in the Final Four via Playoff points. Both drivers were in, which left two spots up for grabs and the best part of the race was yet to come.

Rubs, Wrecks, and a Final Standoff

The final stage kicked off with Alex Bowman fighting with Chase Elliott for the lead at the start-finish line. 30 laps later, Josh Bilicki spun around after making contact with Ryan Newman. Fourteen laps later, Bilicki made contact with #00 Quinn Houff. Houff, in a move clearly out of frustration, spun Billicki during the caution and was held by NASCAR for five laps after retaliating.

Cars were rolling back on the track with 171 laps to go and none of the Penske cars were having a good day. This time it was Ryan Blaney who was in trouble as he was banged like an old can of soup on the corners and went from 10th to 16th in just a handful of turns. The 8th yellow flag came in after Ross Chastain spun Newman and sent him hard into the wall. Logano took the lead for a couple of laps after staying out on the yellow flag. Nonetheless, he looked more like a traffic cone on wheels rather than a race car.

Daniel Suarez spun a few laps later and gave a chance to leaders to pit again. That gave way to an unusual restart as the battered Austin Dillon and Tyler Reddick took the green flag with leaders right behind them. Truex and Hamlin made quick work of them and move to the front right away.

Brad K’s Final Standoff

Brad Keselowski was by far the best Penske driver on the track. He got increasingly aggressive as the lap counter went down. It was “win or go home” for him in what seemed to be his last ever Playoff race for Captain Roger. Martin Truex Jr’s +6 point advantage began to vanish after making contact and damaging the left front of his car with less than forty laps to go. JGR’s number 19 later made contact with the wall and gave both Busch and Keselowski a chance to get into the final four.

Trevor Bowman got tired of running second and decided to move Hamlin out of the way with five laps to go. This brought the 14th and final yellow flag of the evening and sent the race into overtime. Bowman was just far enough for anyone to catch him and he got the win. More importantly, Truex Jr managed to keep everyone behind him as well as keeping his left fender attached to the front of his Camry.

The Championship Four was set. Not before Denny Hamlin got up into Bowman’s nose during burnouts. Spotter Chris Lambert kept his cool and reminded the FedEx driver to look at “The big picture”. The veteran drove away to fight another day.

Who’s In?

The Final Four is set. Here are the contenders for next week’s Season Finale at Phoenix:

    • #5 Kyle Larson, Hendrick Motorsports
    • #9 chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports
    • #11 Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing
    • #19 Martin Truex Jr., Joe Gibbs Racing

Featured Image: FOX News

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