• NASCAR Cup Series
  • Xfinity Series
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RESULTS

START POS

FINAL STATUS

LAPS COMPLETED

LAPS LED

POINTS

PLAYOFF POINTS

1

Denny Hamlin

11 |

2

Running

367

146

57

6

2

Kyle Larson

5 |

6

Running

367

156

54

1

3

Ross Chastain

42 |

23

Running

367

1

44

0

4

Martin Truex Jr

19 |

10

Running

367

1

38

0

5

Kevin Harvick

4 |

9

Running

367

20

44

0

6

Kurt Busch

1 |

3

Running

367

13

44

0

7

Brad Keselowski

2 |

16

Running

367

0

30

0

8

Joey Logano

22 |

11

Running

367

0

34

0

9

Chris Buescher

17 |

34

Running

367

0

28

0

10

Austin Dillon

3 |

21

Running

367

0

27

0

11

Cole Custer

41 |

31

Running

367

0

26

0

12

Ryan Preece

37 |

18

Running

367

0

25

0

13

Daniel Suarez

99 |

26

Running

367

0

24

0

14

Ryan Newman

6 |

19

Running

367

0

23

0

15

Corey Lajoie

7 |

25

Running

367

0

23

0

16

Aric Almirola

10 |

8

Running

366

0

24

0

17

Ricky Stenhouse Jr

47 |

29

Running

366

0

20

0

18

Tyler Reddick

8 |

7

Running

366

0

23

0

19

Chase Briscoe

14 |

24

Running

366

0

18

0

20

Christopher Bell

20 |

13

Running

366

10

26

0

21

Bubba Wallace

23 |

17

Running

366

0

16

0

22

Ryan Blaney

12 |

1

Running

366

17

24

0

23

Matt DiBenedetto

21 |

30

Running

365

0

14

0

24

Anthony Alfredo

38 |

32

Running

364

0

13

0

25

Justin Haley

77 |

20

Running

364

0

0

0

26

Alex Bowman

48 |

5

Running

363

0

11

0

27

BJ McLeod

78 |

27

Running

359

0

0

0

28

Josh Bilicki

52 |

28

Running

359

0

9

0

29

Joey Gase

15 |

35

Running

357

1

0

0

30

Quin Houff

00 |

37

Running

355

0

7

0

31

Chase Elliott

9 |

4

Accident

327

0

9

0

32

Erik Jones

43 |

22

Engine

264

2

5

0

33

Cody Ware

51 |

33

Accident

209

0

0

0

34

William Byron

24 |

14

Accident

199

0

3

0

35

Kyle Busch

18 |

12

Accident

125

0

2

0

36

James Davison

53 |

36

Accident

50

0

1

0

37

Michael McDowell

34 |

15

Accident

30

0

1

0

  • #1 | LEADER

    Denny Hamlin

    #1

    LEADER

    Denny Hamlin

    11|

  • #2 | 0.212

    Kyle Larson

    #2

    0.212

    Kyle Larson

    5|

  • #3 | 1.948

    Ross Chastain

    #3

    1.948

    Ross Chastain

    42|

Denny Hamlin holds off Larson at Darlington, opens playoffs with Southern 500 victory

DARLINGTON, S.C. — Holding off regular-season champion Kyle Larson throughout a thrilling final green-flag run in Sunday‘s Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, Denny Hamlin is winless in 2021 no more.

Hamlin maintained control of his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota as Larson buried his No. 5 Chevrolet into Turns 3 and 4 on the final lap. Larson gave Hamlin a tap, but Hamlin blocked the top lane and got to the finish line .212 seconds ahead of the runner-up.

“He drove it in past the limit of the car and tires,” Hamlin said of Larson‘s banzai charge. “I knew he was coming. I was a little conservative on that last lap because I had that four-car-length lead.”

RELATED: Race results | At-track photos

The victory was Hamlin‘s first of the year after a winless 26-race regular season. He won for the fourth time at Darlington and for the 45th time in his career to earn an automatic berth into the Round of 12 in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.

“Yeah, it was a matter of time,” Hamlin said of the long-awaited win. “We can’t just keep leading inside 10 laps to go every week and not get a win.”

Hamlin kept Larson at bay over the final two restarts but couldn‘t pull away to a comfortable lead.

“We got to the white (flag), and I was like, ‘Well, I haven’t been able to gain on him now, I’m going to try something,\"” Larson said of the desperation try he labeled a “video-game move.” “Honestly, got to his bumper too quick. I was hoping he was going to run that diamond to kind of be safe and I could skirt to his outside, but gave everything I had.

“I didn’t want to wreck him. I just wanted to try to get to his outside there, but he did a great job not really making any mistakes during the last run, and I was having to push really hard in second to try and just stay with him.”

RELATED: Kyle Larson analyzes his last-lap move | Denny Hamlin reacts to first win of 2021

Larson led 156 of the 367 laps to Hamlin‘s 146. Hamlin won the first stage and Larson the second.

Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. caught a break when Ryan Blaney spun in Turn 4 on Lap 318 while the two JGR drivers stayed on the track trying to stretch the cycle of pit stops. Truex beat Hamlin off pit road but was flagged for speeding, and Hamlin held the top spot the rest of the way.

Non-Playoff driver Ross Chastain finished third, followed by Truex, who recovered from the penalty and an earlier loose wheel to run fourth. Playoff drivers Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano were fifth through eighth, respectively, but for other title hopefuls, the race brought disaster.

Two-time series champion Kyle Busch suffered an early exit and a blow to his hopes of winning a third title. Contact with the No. 3 Chevrolet of Austin Dillon sent Busch‘s No. 18 Toyota rocketing into the outside wall in Turn 2, causing irreparable damage.

Busch fell out in 35th place and now faces an uphill battle to advance to the Round of 12.

“It wasn‘t the 3‘s (Dillon‘s) fault,” Busch said. “Just take our lumps, you know. We were running like (crap), and that‘s what you get when you run like (crap). Shouldn‘t be there.”

RELATED: Kyle Busch wrecks in Stage 2 | William Byron out after wreck

Three-fourths of the Hendrick Motorsports armada took a major hit as well. Alex Bowman scraped the wall on Lap 14 and stayed on the track, hoping to make it to the competition caution on lap 25. But a tire rub proved disastrous, sending Bowman‘s Chevy into the Turn 4 wall, and damage the No. 24 Camaro of teammate William Byron in the process. 

Bowman was able to continue and finished 26th, but Byron wasn‘t as fortunate. After recovering to run in the top 10, Byron cut a left front tire on Lap 200, crashed hard into the Turn 1 wall and exited the race with a 34th-place finish. 

“That was a big hit,” Byron acknowledged. “It looked like on that (previous) pit stop, it looked like we dropped the jack and the left front was still finishing up. I took off and everything felt OK. I went to pass the No. 00 (Quin Houff) or somebody down the frontstretch and was just about to turn into (Turn) 1 and the left front went down. 

“There was nothing we could do. The guys did an awesome job to fix it. We were running like top-12, I think, even with all the (earlier) right rear damage, and it‘s just terrible. I don‘t know, man. That sucks.”

Reigning series champion Chase Elliott fell out in 31st place after slamming the outside wall on Lap 327 in a three-wide melee in Turn 1 with Bubba Wallace and Christopher Bell.

RELATED: Chase Elliott hits wall late in race | Michael McDowell exits early

An early wreck put a dagger to Michael McDowell‘s slim championship chances. On Lap 31, McDowell‘s No. 34 Front Row Motorsports Ford broke loose behind Erik Jones‘ Chevrolet in Turn 2, smacked the outside wall and careened nose-first into the inside SAFER barrier.

McDowell exited the race, his car destroyed and his title hopes hanging by a thread.

“The 43 (Jones) kind of got everybody jammed up,” McDowell said after exiting the infield care center. “I think he started on the front there without tires, which is a tough spot to be in, and I just went three-wide underneath him and just got into the patch (of new asphalt in Turn 2) with my left sides just a little bit low.  

“I got loose enough into the wall and that was about it. I‘ll have to see the replay, but just heartbreaking for everybody on this Front Row team. We had high hopes coming into the Playoffs and this is not how we wanted to start it.”

Bowman, Kyle Busch, Byron and McDowell fell below the current cut line for the Round of 12. Elliott leaves Darlington 10th in the Playoff standings.

The Cup Series’ next race is the Federated Auto Parts 400 Salute to First Responders, scheduled Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN/NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Richmond Raceway. Two events remain in the three-race Round of 16, the opening elimination phase of the 10-race postseason.

Note: Post-race inspection confirmed the No. 11 Toyota of Hamlin to be the race winner. There were no issues. The Nos. 3 (Austin Dillon), 4 (Kevin Harvick), 19 (Martin Truex Jr.) and 42 (Ross Chastain) will be brought back to the R&D Center for further inspection and engine dyno.

Contributing: Staff reports