Las Vegas NASCAR: Hamlin beats Elliott for victory

Denny Hamlin advances to the semifinal of the 2021 NASCAR Cup playoffs after scoring victory in Las Vegas ahead of defending champion Chase Elliott.

Sunday’s win means Hamlin progresses regardless of how he finishes in the next two races at Talladega and the Charlotte Roval.

With the final stage going caution-free, the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota driver successfully navigated a round of green-flag pit stops and cycled back to the lead on lap 229 of 267.

Hamlin's team-mates Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. took third and fourth, while Penske driver Ryan Blaney rounded out the top five in the leading Ford.

Completing the top 10 were Tyler Reddick, Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick and stage one winner Kyle Larson, who won the spring race at Las Vegas.

Following the break between Stages 2 and 3, the lead-lap cars pitted with stage two winner Hamlin the first to emerge from pit road. On Lap 167, Hamlin was followed by Truex, Reddick and Kyle Busch.

Truex quickly went to the inside on the restart and came away with the lead, only for Hamlin to resume the lead on the next lap.

With 80 laps to go, Hamlin led Reddick by about half-a-second as Truex ran third and Elliott fourth.

Hamlin now has a safety net ahead of the Talladega lottery

Hamlin now has a safety net ahead of the Talladega lottery

Photo by: Motorsport Images

The final round of green-flag pit stops began on lap 210, as several drivers took on fresh tyres and fuel to the end of the race. Hendrick Motorsport drivers Elliott and William Byron pitted on lap 213 together with Blaney, while Hamlin waited until the following lap.

Hendrick's Alex Bowman was forced to pit a second time under green for broken valve stem on his left-rear tyre. He returned to the track two laps down and in 28th.

Byron was forced to pit under green on lap 225 for a flat tyre. Once he returned to the track, he was running 22nd and two laps down.

Once the cycle of stops was completed on lap 229, Hamlin returned to the lead followed by Elliott, Truex, Kyle Busch and Reddick.

With 30 laps remaining, Hamlin remained out front but Elliott had cut his lead to under a second and was quickly gaining ground.

Elliott trimmed Hamlin’s lead to about half-a-second in the final laps, but never got close enough to challenge for the top spot and deny Hamlin his 46th career victory.

Larson continues to lead the playoff standings by 14 over Hamlin. The current last four in danger of elimination following the Charlotte Roval race are Byron, Harvick, Bowman and Christopher Bell.

NASCAR Las Vegas Results - 267 laps

Cla Driver Manufacturer Time Gap Interval
1 United States Denny Hamlin Toyota 2:46'07.787    
2 United States Chase Elliott Chevrolet 2:46'08.229 0.442 0.442
3 United States Kyle Busch Toyota 2:46'20.335 12.548 12.106
4 United States Martin Truex Jr. Toyota 2:46'21.776 13.989 1.441
5 United States Ryan Blaney Ford 2:46'22.438 14.651 0.662
6 United States Tyler Reddick Chevrolet 2:46'23.578 15.791 1.140
7 United States Brad Keselowski Ford 2:46'28.408 20.621 4.830
8 United States Kurt Busch Chevrolet 2:46'29.110 21.323 0.702
9 United States Kevin Harvick Ford 2:46'29.761 21.974 0.651
10 United States Kyle Larson Chevrolet 2:46'31.906 24.119 2.145
11 United States Joey Logano Ford 2:46'36.436 28.649 4.530
12 United States Matt DiBenedetto Ford 2:46'38.828 31.041 2.392
13 United States Austin Dillon Chevrolet 2:46'11.965 1 Lap 1 Lap
14 United States Chase Briscoe Ford 2:46'16.602 1 Lap 4.637
15 Mexico Daniel Suarez Chevrolet 2:46'21.400 1 Lap 4.798
16 United States Bubba Wallace Toyota 2:46'22.936 1 Lap 1.536
17 United States Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Chevrolet 2:46'23.147 1 Lap 0.211
18 United States William Byron Chevrolet 2:46'25.333 1 Lap 2.186
19 United States Aric Almirola Ford 2:46'34.312 1 Lap 8.979
20 United States Ryan Newman Ford 2:46'37.712 1 Lap 3.400
21 United States Michael McDowell Ford 2:46'40.051 1 Lap 2.339
22 United States Alex Bowman Chevrolet 2:46'11.714 2 Laps 1 Lap
23 United States Ross Chastain Chevrolet 2:46'14.852 2 Laps 3.138
24 United States Christopher Bell Toyota 2:46'15.586 2 Laps 0.734
25 United States Chris Buescher Ford 2:46'18.482 2 Laps 2.896
26 United States Erik Jones Chevrolet 2:46'19.397 2 Laps 0.915
27 Anthony Alfredo Ford 2:46'28.498 2 Laps 9.101
28 United States Ryan Preece Chevrolet 2:46'35.016 2 Laps 6.518
29 United States Cole Custer Ford 2:46'38.378 2 Laps 3.362
30 United States Corey Lajoie Chevrolet 2:46'37.984 3 Laps 1 Lap
31 United States Cody Ware Chevrolet 2:46'11.802 7 Laps 4 Laps
32 United States Justin Haley Chevrolet 2:46'28.217 7 Laps 16.415
33 United States B.J. McLeod Ford 2:46'17.521 10 Laps 3 Laps
34 United States Quin Houff Chevrolet 2:46'38.556 12 Laps 2 Laps
35 United States Garrett Smithley Chevrolet 2:46'22.466 13 Laps 1 Lap
36 United States Josh Bilicki Ford 2:46'20.168 15 Laps 2 Laps
37 United States Joey Gase Chevrolet 59'56.913 183 Laps 168 Laps
38 United States J.J. Yeley Toyota 49'15.683 191 Laps 8 Laps
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