NASCAR Cup Kansas: Wallace beats Hamlin in second shock winner

For the second consecutive week, the NASCAR Cup playoffs produced a surprise winner as Bubba Wallace held off Denny Hamlin to win at Kansas Speedway.

Wallace ran down Alex Bowman to take the lead for the first time in the race on lap 200 of 267 and remained out front after successfully navigating a round of green flag pitstops.

With 16 laps to go, Hamlin – who is co-owner of Wallace’s #45 23XI Racing team – got around Christopher Bell and began running down Wallace for the lead.

With no additional cautions to help, Wallace was able to hold off Hamlin by one second to earn his second career victory and first of the 2022 season.

It continues the run of none of the playoff contenders winning since the start of the title-deciding races, after Erik Jones took victory last time out at Darlington.

Bell, who took third at the finish, leads the overall points, ahead of William Byron and Hamlin.

Wallace, the only full-time black driver in the series, also replicated the win by his 23XI Racing team-mate, Kurt Busch, who won the Kansas race in the spring. Wallace is now driving Busch’s #45 while Busch continues to recover from the effects of a concussion.

The win by Wallace automatically advances the #45 team to the second round of the Cup owner’s playoffs, regardless of his performance next weekend at Bristol.

“Man, I’m just so proud of this team and the effort they put in each and every week,” Wallace said. “I’m just thankful for the opportunity, right? Took this jump from an idea two years ago from a text from Denny before it all even happened. He was ready to get the deal done. My pit crew was awesome today. We had one loose wheel.

Bubba Wallace, 23XI Racing, ROOT Insurance Toyota Camry, winner

Bubba Wallace, 23XI Racing, ROOT Insurance Toyota Camry, winner

Photo by: Gavin Baker / NKP / Motorsport Images

“I knew Denny was going to be strong. That's the things I look at, is he wasn’t that good at the beginning of the day, and he comes up and finishes P2. And that’s what I want to start doing. When we don’t have the best days, just capitalize on moments like that.

“It’s cool to beat the boss, but man, we were just lights out today once we got to the lead, and it was a lot of fun.”

Asked how he remained focused to through the final 96-lap green flag run, Wallace said, “Been doing this for a really long time. I haven’t won a race like that in a really long time, but just knowing getting excited is going to mess you up, so it was just cool, calm, and collected, and here we are.”

Behind the top three early leader Bowman had to settle for fourth and Martin Truex Jr rounded out the top five.

In another mixed up finishing order, Byron took sixth ahead of Ross Chastain and Kyle Larson, as Ryan Blaney and Daniel Suarez completed the top 10.

With one race remaining in the first round of the playoffs, the four drivers most in danger of not advancing to Round 2 are Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon, Chase Briscoe and Kevin Harvick.

NASCAR Cup Kansas - Race Results

Cla Driver Manufacturer Laps Gap Interval
1 United States Bubba Wallace Toyota 267    
2 United States Denny Hamlin Toyota 267 1.000 1.000
3 United States Christopher Bell Toyota 267 3.718 2.718
4 United States Alex Bowman Chevrolet 267 13.516 9.798
5 United States Martin Truex Jr. Toyota 267 13.851 0.335
6 United States William Byron Chevrolet 267 17.240 3.389
7 United States Ross Chastain Chevrolet 267 17.984 0.744
8 United States Kyle Larson Chevrolet 267 20.143 2.159
9 United States Ryan Blaney Ford 267 20.586 0.443
10 Mexico Daniel Suarez Chevrolet 267 20.658 0.072
11 United States Chase Elliott Chevrolet 267 21.198 0.540
12 United States Austin Cindric Ford 267 27.341 6.143
13 United States Chase Briscoe Ford 267 27.556 0.215
14 United States Austin Dillon Chevrolet 267 30.493 2.937
15 United States Chris Buescher Ford 267 31.644 1.151
16 United States Michael McDowell Ford 267 32.309 0.665
17 United States Joey Logano Ford 266 1 Lap 1 Lap
18 United States Noah Gragson Chevrolet 266 1 Lap 5.614
19 United States Justin Haley Chevrolet 266 1 Lap 3.571
20 United States Ty Dillon Chevrolet 266 1 Lap 3.705
21 United States Aric Almirola Ford 266 1 Lap 0.492
22 United States Cole Custer Ford 266 1 Lap 2.189
23 United States Todd Gilliland Ford 266 1 Lap 0.562
24 United States Landon Cassill Chevrolet 266 1 Lap 5.004
25 United States Brad Keselowski Ford 266 1 Lap 4.640
26 United States Kyle Busch Toyota 265 2 Laps 1 Lap
27 United States Cody Ware Ford 265 2 Laps 1.241
28 United States J.J. Yeley Ford 264 3 Laps 1 Lap
29 United States Erik Jones Chevrolet 264 3 Laps 13.657
30 United States Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Chevrolet 262 5 Laps 2 Laps
31 United States B.J. McLeod Ford 262 5 Laps 13.598
32 United States Harrison Burton Ford 115 152 Laps 147 Laps
33 United States Corey Lajoie Chevrolet 114 153 Laps 1 Lap
34 Ty Gibbs Toyota 90 177 Laps 24 Laps
35 United States Tyler Reddick Chevrolet 67 200 Laps 23 Laps
36 United States Kevin Harvick Ford 33 234 Laps 34 Laps
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