Bottom line: Denny Hamlin trails behind in Richmond win
Perhaps there was no better place for Denny Hamlin to finally claim his first win in 2022. To the delight of fans at Richmond Raceway, Chesterfield’s hometown favorite, Virginia took the lead for Toyota 400 owners than William Byron with five laps left and stood off the field for a 0.52 second victory over Kevin Harvick and Byron.
Surprisingly enough, this was Hamlin’s first 10 games of the 2022 season, although it marked his fourth NASCAR Cup Series win over the 0.75-mile track – the same place where #11 driver Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota grew up watching NASCAR As a young fan.
This is JGR Toyota’s sixth win in its last eight races at Richmond – the 18y In the history of the team there. This is the third race in a row in which all four JGR drivers finished in the top 10.
Richmond: Official results | At-Track Gallery | Hamlin responds to victory
The victory was also significant in that 41-year-old Hamlin halted a 12-race victory run by drivers aged 30 or younger – a mark dating back to last season.
“I just drove as hard as I could,” said Hamlin, a regular championship contender who was ranked as an uncharacteristic 20th.y In standings before the Richmond race.
“So proud of the entire FedEx Camry team, they never gave up.
“There was no doubt in my mind, maybe a little bit, but they got this car there near the end,” Hamlin continued. “Wow, that’s unbelievable.”
“We needed a data point, something, a pretty good race to balance ourselves out on the other tracks. Obviously, I think we’ve got it here.”
Byron and his team #24 Hendrick Motorsports at Chevrolet chose to stay off the old tires for the last 90 laps, and at one point held a solid five-second lead on the field. But when the teams picked newer tires during a series of late stops in the green, it became clear that Byron would really have to work to win – and do so on the worn out tyres.
Hamlin, who got new tires with 47 laps cut off, eventually managed to make his way across the field, taking second place from his JGR teammate Martin Truex Jr. With six laps to go and keep moving forward for a low dive. And he moved to the lead around Byron with five laps remaining. Also on newer tires, Stewart-Haas Racing driver Harvick was able to overtake both Byron and Truex for his best result this season as well.
“It really is our first clean day of the year,” said 2014 Series Champion Harvick. “The cars were fast and we only had a bullet there at the end, I wanted to be close enough to the white [flag] Just to criticize him but the coiled cars got in the way and lost a bit of ground. It’s still a great day for us and hopefully there’s a bit of momentum.”
MORE: Kevin Harvick was ready to “take a quick hit,” settling for second
Truex, who has had three wins in the last five races in Richmond, finished fourth, followed by NASCAR Cup Series champion Hendrick Motorsports Kyle Larson.
JGR’s Christopher Bell finished sixth, followed by Penske’s Ryan Blaney, who drove the first 128 laps of the race – most of the day. Hendrik Motorsports’ Alex Bowman recovered from a pit road penalty to finish eighth. Kyle Busch recovered from a penalty late in the race as well, to finish ninth, while Richard Childress Racing driver Austin Dillon finished tenth..
Blaney (1st) and Truex (2nd) have both won a stage and have been winners only three times so far this season.
The upcoming NASCAR Cup Series races on the Martinsville Speedway half a mile at the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400 next Saturday night (7:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Truex is the defending champion of the Spring Race.
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Note: No issues were found during NASCAR’s post-race check, confirming Denny Hamlin’s victory. NASCAR indicated that the #19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Martin Truex Jr. Daniel Suárez’s No. 99 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet will return to the R&D center for further inspection, which is abnormal.