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Race report

NASCAR Cup Bristol: Hamlin cruises to win as playoff field cut to 12

Denny Hamlin claimed victory in the NASCAR Cup playoff race at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday night as reigning series champion Joey Logano was eliminated from title contention.

In a race that battled to find a rhythm in part due to battles with the weather, Hamlin took control in the second half after he grabbed the lead from his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota team-mate Ty Gibbs with 141 of 500 laps remaining.

As the race remained caution-free the rest of the way, Hamlin was not seriously challenged and cruised to a 2.437-second win over Kyle Larson, who had started dead last in the race, while Gibbs fell to fifth.

Hamlin's third win of 2023 wasn't straightforward. He was penalised for speeding during a pitstop under the first caution of the race, triggered when Austin Cindric and A.J. Allmendinger wrecked on the frontstretch, and had to restart from the rear of the field. Larson had suffered a similar fate for running over equipment.

After being met by a cascade of boos from the crowd, Hamlin lauded his team's performance. He had shown himself to have a car capable of winning the first two playoff races, but the best he had come away with was runner-up last weekend at Kansas after a late caution swung the advantage in favour of Tyler Reddick.

"So happy about the way we're running, can't wait to keep going," Hamlin said. "It's our year, I just feel like we've got it all put together.

"We've got the speed every single type of race track. Nothing to stop us at this point."

Asked if the boos were a motivating factor, Hamlin said, "Hey, I beat your favorite driver, all of 'em."

Fellow JGR driver Christopher Bell, who won the first two stages and led the most laps (187) eventually finished third, Chris Buescher was fourth ahead of Gibbs.

Race winner Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry

Race winner Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry

Photo by: Gavin Baker / NKP / Motorsport Images

Completing the top-10 were Michael McDowell, Chase Elliott, Brad Keselowski, William Byron and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

However, the result wasn't enough to keep McDowell and Daytona 500 winner Stenhouse in contention for the championship with the completion of the first round of the playoffs.

The duo fail to progress to the Round of 12 along with reigning series champion Logano, who was forced into retirement after sustaining heavy damage to his left-rear corner when hit by a spinning Corey LaJoie, and the retiring Kevin Harvick after the 2014 Cup champion made contact with the wall a couple times and finished five laps down.

Martin Truex Jr. remains in title contention after he got into the wall and brought out the sixth caution of the race. He's joined in the Round of 12 by Byron, Hamlin, Larson, Buescher, Kyle Busch, Bell, Reddick, Ross Chastain, Keselowski, Ryan Blaney and Bubba Wallace.

NASCAR Cup Bristol Race Result:

 
 
       
Driver Info
 
 
 
   
Cla Driver # Manufacturer Laps Time Interval Pits Points Retirement
1 United States D. Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing 11 Toyota 500 2:48'20.637   8 47  
2 United States K. Larson Hendrick Motorsports 5 Chevrolet 500 +2.437 2.437 9 46  
3 United States C. Bell Joe Gibbs Racing 20 Toyota 500 +5.098 2.661 7 54  
4 United States C. Buescher RFK Racing 17 Ford 500 +9.206 4.108 9 37  
5
T. Gibbs Joe Gibbs Racing
54 Toyota 500 +9.237 0.031 9 42  
6 United States M. McDowell Front Row Motorsports 34 Ford 500 +10.196 0.959 9 36  
7 United States C. Elliott Hendrick Motorsports 9 Chevrolet 500 +15.325 5.129 8 31  
8 United States B. Keselowski RFK Racing 6 Ford 500 +15.795 0.470 9 33  
9 United States W. Byron Hendrick Motorsports 24 Chevrolet 500 +16.113 0.318 8 38  
10 United States R. Stenhouse Jr. JTG Daugherty Racing 47 Chevrolet 500 +16.128 0.015 9 27  
11
C. Hocevar Legacy Motor Club
42 Chevrolet 499 +1 Lap 1 Lap 8    
12 United States R. Preece Stewart-Haas Racing 41 Ford 499 +1 Lap 3.702 8 27  
13 United States A. Bowman Hendrick Motorsports 48 Chevrolet 499 +1 Lap 1.891 9 24  
14 United States B. Wallace 23XI Racing 23 Toyota 499 +1 Lap 0.292 7 31  
15 United States T. Reddick 23XI Racing 45 Toyota 499 +1 Lap 0.192 8 28  
16 United States T. Gilliland Front Row Motorsports 38 Ford 499 +1 Lap 0.202 8 21  
17 United States A. Dillon Richard Childress Racing 3 Chevrolet 499 +1 Lap 0.894 10 20  
18 United States A. Almirola Stewart-Haas Racing 10 Ford 499 +1 Lap 7.814 9 19  
19 United States M. Truex Jr. Joe Gibbs Racing 19 Toyota 498 +2 Laps 1 Lap 9 20  
20 United States K. Busch Richard Childress Racing 8 Chevrolet 498 +2 Laps 6.168 9 17  
21 Mexico D. Suarez TrackHouse Racing 99 Chevrolet 498 +2 Laps 6.108 8 16  
22 United States R. Blaney Team Penske 12 Ford 498 +2 Laps 0.181 9 15  
23 United States R. Chastain TrackHouse Racing 1 Chevrolet 498 +2 Laps 2.645 9 19  
24 United States E. Jones Legacy Motor Club 43 Chevrolet 497 +3 Laps 1 Lap 8 13  
25 United States C. Lajoie Spire Motorsports 7 Chevrolet 497 +3 Laps 11.569 11 21  
26 United States J. Yeley Rick Ware Racing 15 Ford 495 +5 Laps 2 Laps 9    
27 United States C. Briscoe Stewart-Haas Racing 14 Ford 495 +5 Laps 1.322 9 10  
28 United States H. Burton Wood Brothers Racing 21 Ford 495 +5 Laps 1.049 10 9  
29 United States K. Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing 4 Ford 495 +5 Laps 8.470 9 8  
30 United States A. Allmendinger Kaulig Racing 16 Chevrolet 491 +9 Laps 4 Laps 10 7  
31 United States B. McLeod Live Fast Motorsports 78 Chevrolet 490 +10 Laps 1 Lap 11    
32 United States A. Cindric Team Penske 2 Ford 488 +12 Laps 2 Laps 11 5  
33 United States T. Dillon Spire Motorsports 77 Chevrolet 263 +237 Laps 225 Laps 9 4 Accident
34 United States J. Logano Team Penske 22 Ford 262 +238 Laps 1 Lap 7 3 Accident
35 United States J. Haley Kaulig Racing 31 Chevrolet 261 +239 Laps 1 Lap 8 2 Accident
36 United States R. Newman Rick Ware Racing 51 Ford 260 +240 Laps 1 Lap 8 1 Accident

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