DARLINGTON, S.C. – On a throwback weekend at Darlington Raceway, with a move he termed “a throwback to Dale Earnhardt,” Denny Hamlin won his fifth NASCAR XFINITY Series event at the Lady in Black — all from the pole.
The driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota grabbed the lead from Joey Logano after a restart on Lap 147 of 148 — one beyond the scheduled distance — and when Logano got inside position on the final circuit and surged ahead into Turn 3, Hamlin responded with a crossover move, retook the top spot off Turn 4 and won a drag race to the finish line.
“I didn’t anticipate the 22 (Logano) getting back to us like that,” said Hamlin, who has finished either first or second in his last eight starts at Darlington. “I think that was a throwback to Dale Earnhardt in (Turns) 3 and 4.”
Logano trailed Hamlin at the stripe by .185 seconds.
“I got underneath him off of (Turn) 2 there coming to the last lap,” Logano said. “I went into (Turn) 3. He knew my play. I knew his play. He knew I was going to slide up. That was kind of the only one I had, so he checked up and turned down underneath me.
“I was hoping I would get to the wall and carry some momentum. Maybe I should have just kept it to the wood and rode the wall, I don’t know, but overall I guess second always stinks, but probably a pretty good finish considering where we were in practice and where we qualified (10th). We maximized our day. I just wish it was a win.”
RELATED: Logano: ‘Second place always sucks’
Kevin Harvick finished third despite leading 54 laps — second only to Logano’s 58 — and winning the first two stages of the race. A disastrous restart on Lap 142, after the eighth caution for Dakoda Armstrong’s spin in Turn 2, buried Harvick in fifth place for the final green flag.
“It just didn’t wind up working out there at the end,” Harvick said. “I wound up on the bottom, and I kept my foot in it over there, got loose underneath the 20 (Erik Jones). We weren’t the strongest for five or 10 laps, and that didn’t really work out with that short run there at the end, and we got stuck on the bottom.
“We got loose and then we got freight-trained, but just a great car. It wound up being a great race, and that’s all you can ask for.”
Jones came home fourth, followed by William Byron and Brennan Poole.
Both Brennan Poole and Daniel Hemric join Elliott Sadler, William Byron, Justin Allgaier and Ryan Reed as the six drivers that have clinched spots in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoffs early.
RELATED: Sadler slams into wall
Elliott Sadler’s crash into the Turn 1 wall caused the final caution on Lap 143 and postponed the veteran driver’s regular-season-championship clinching party at least until Richmond next weekend. Sadler finished 33rd but still holds a 91-point lead over second-place Byron in the series standings.