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NASCAR Cup: Denny Hamlin wins in overtime at Talladega

TALLADEGA, ALABAMA – OCTOBER 04: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series YellaWood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on October 04, 2020 in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

By AMANDA VINCENT

After a third overtime restart, Denny Hamlin took the checkered flag 0.23 seconds ahead of Matt DiBenedetto in the YellaWood 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway to claim his seventh win of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season and clinch playoff advancement to the round of eight.

Hamlin went below the yellow line coming to the checkered flag, a no-no at superspeedways, but upon review, NASCAR ruled that Hamlin went low to avoid William Byron.

“A lot of stuff happened, for sure,” Hamlin said. “I don’t know if the 21 (DiBenedetto) was running out of gas, but they, obviously, got shuffled there. They were crashing up top. I think the 20 (Erik Jones) hit the wall and then started coming back down, which forced, I think, me and the 24 (Byron) down to the apron. Just was able to overcome. This is one of those that you don’t plan on winning, but we got away with one today.”

DiBenedetto, though, was penalized for forcing Byron below the line. So, after taking the checkered flag in the second position, he was credited with a 21st place finish. Immediately after the race, Chase Elliott was credited with a 22nd-place finish, last on the lead lap, after going below the yellow line en route to the checkered flag, but his penalty was reversed, changing his official finish to fifth, after determining he was forced below the line by Chris Buescher.

After determining Buescher forced below the yellow line, Buescher was moved to the back of the lead lap for a 22nd-place finish.

Erik Jones, instead, was credited with a second-place finish. Ty Dillon was third and Byron fourth.

The first of the three overtimes came as a result of a track record-matching 11th caution for a James Davison incident with five laps remaining in the 188-lap scheduled distance. The yellow flag waved two more times, ultimately, for a new record-setting 13 cautions.

Joey Logano was up front for the first overtime restart, but Elliott took the lead before the next caution. DiBenedetto was the race leader for the final restart, with Hamlin alongside on the front row after riding in the back to avoid trouble most of the race.

Logano was at or near the front for most of the final stage of the race after taking the lead on lap 137. Before being among the drivers collected in the 12th caution, he led a race-high 45 laps. Darrell Wallace Jr., Brad Keselowski and Elliott were among the drivers who traded the lead with Logano in the final third of the race.

Buescher was the first stage winner of the day, taking the first stage win on lap 60 after inheriting the lead when previous race leader, Aric Almirola, unsuccessfully tried to defend his position against Alex Bowman on lap 58. Almirola’s block-gone-bad resulted in contact from Bowman that set off a multi-car crash that also involved Kyle Busch, Ryan Blaney and Austin Dillon.

“I’m okay. I, honestly, haven’t seen the replay, so it’s hard to say, but I got hit from behind and turned in the outside fence,” Almirola said. ”It’s such a shame. We had such a fast Smithfield Power Bites Ford Mustang. I’m just disappointed. We were doing everything we needed to do. We were closing in to the end of stage one, and it looked like we were gonna score a lot of points, there, which is exactly what we needed to do. It looks like he (Bowman) got to my outside, and my car started to turn to the right, so it’s unfortunate. I don’t know if he got in the back of me and hooked me or how that played out, but my car just made a hard right into the fence. It’s unfortunate. I had a lot of confidence going into today. I thought we were gonna have a good shot to win. Our car was so fast, but unfortunately, the good Lord had different plans for us today. We’ll go onto the Roval and try one more time.”

The first half of the opening 60-lap stage were highlighted by yellow flags and Hamlin dominance. Hamlin led all but two laps of the race before a lap-25 competition caution, the other two led by Logano.

Almirola was first off pit road during the competition caution, the fourth caution of the race, and he, Blaney, Jones, Logano and Elliott, who was assessed a speeding penalty during the competition caution, each led laps before Almirola retook the lead on lap 55.

Elliott led 28 of the second 30-lap stage, but Martin Truex Jr. was up front on lap 120 for the stage-two win after taking the lead on lap 119.

Keselowski, Buescher and Jones also led laps early in stage two before Elliott was back up front for a restart following a lap-87 caution for Blaney.

A Clint Blowyer attempt to draft with Jimmie Johnson went bad on lap 109, ending with both drivers wrecking. At least eight other drivers were involved in the chain-reaction incident — Cole Custer, Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman, Brendan Gaughan, Ryan Preece, Quin Houff and Kurt Busch. Busch’s car got airborne but remained upright.

“It was a wild ride,” Kurt Busch said. “That’s the nature of this sport. You’re on top one week with a win, and everything’s fantastic. And then, this week here at Talladega, we were hoping for a nice, smooth run and to gain some points. I was just doing my job as a Chevy helper running top-five, and next thing you know, I’m going for one of the wildest rides I’ve ever been in.”

Elliott still was the leader after a red flag for track cleanup, but Logano took the top spot on lap 114. Tyler Reddick also led a lap before Truex took his stage-winning lead. As Truex took his stage win, Logano was penalized for forcing another car below the yellow line.

Finishing sixth through 10th were Newman, Tyler Reddick, John Hunter Nemechek, Brennan Poole and Ryan Preece.

Below, is the complete finishing order of the YellaWood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway:

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Posted by on October 4, 2020. Filed under Breaking News,Cup Series,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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