Hamlin wins chaotic NASCAR cut-off race at Kansas Speedway
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Denny Hamlin was surrounded by Joe Gibbs Racing teammates at the front on the final restart, and that put Chase Elliott in the most difficult and precarious of situations.
Somehow, he figured, he needed to find a way to beat them all to advance in NASCAR’s playoffs.
It turned out second place was good enough.
Hamlin roared away with a push from behind from teammate Kyle Busch on the second shot at a green-white-checkered finish, and Elliott was unable to chase him down. But deep in the field, Brad Keselowski was going backward, and the spots he lost in the elimination race at Kansas Speedway were enough to send Elliott through in the final cutoff spot to the round of eight.
Hamlin won the race. Elliott felt almost as if he did.
“You have to stay fighting in these things, especially with the late-race restarts,” he said. “Just excited we get to fight another race. Back up against the wall, to come out here and battle for the win, that’s what you have to do when you’re in the position we were in.”
In a bit of irony, it was Keselowski who helped bring out the caution in the first overtime when he got into Daniel Suarez and triggered a wreck that collected teammate Joey Logano. The field was nearing the start-finish line but the caution light came on before the leader took the white flag.
If Hamlin had crossed a split-second quicker, the race would have been over and Keselowski safe.
“I pushed as hard as I knew how and didn’t quite do good enough on the last restart and that was it,” Keselowski said. “We clawed as hard as we could and there were times it looked like we were going to be fine and times it didn’t. In the end it didn’t work out.”
Kyle Busch ultimately finished third, followed by Kurt Busch and William Byron. But the key was Keselowski, who dropped from 13th to 19th on the final restart and out of the next round of the playoffs.
Denny Hamlin, right, driver of the #11 FedEx Office Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan., Sunday.