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NASCAR Xfinity: Denny Hamlin edges out William Byron for Michigan win

Denny Hamlin (20) edges out William Byron (9) to win the Irish Hills 250 at Michigan International Speedway on June 17 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

Denny Hamlin (20) edges out William Byron (9) to win the Irish Hills 250 at Michigan International Speedway on June 17 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

By AMANDA VINCENT

NASCAR Xfinity Series rookie William Byron came within 0.012 seconds of a first-career series win at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn on Saturday. That 0.012 seconds was the margin of victory for actual race winner Denny Hamlin, who claimed the third-straight series win for Joe Gibbs Racing at MIS with the smallest margin in series competition at Michigan since the advent of electronic scoring in the Xfinity Series.
“He (Byron) did a great job, and really, I knew he had a really good car,” Hamlin said. “That last long run that we had, he was about to pass me, so he’s done a great job. Obviously, he’s one of NASCAR’s next future superstars, and I wanted to race him clean. I wasn’t going to turn him around or anything like that, so stayed low below him and got him a little bit loose through (turns) one and two. That allowed me to get position, and then, into turn three, we both got sideways; he slid up just enough to let me barely get to that left-rear, and it was just enough to drag race past him. So proud of this team. Great that we got a win.”
Elliott Sadler finished third after battling Hamlin and Byron three-wide for the win on the final lap. With the top-five, he retook the championship points lead from his JR Motorsports teammate, Justin Allgaier. Allgaier had problems with the hood of his car late in the race when some of the hood pins broke.
Brad Keselowski finished fourth after leading a race-high 54 laps. Hamlin was the only other driver to lead more than 15 laps, running up front for 34 laps in the 125-lap race.
“Good race,” Keselowski said. “Denny was the class of the field there at the end. I just couldn’t get the back underneath the Discount Tire Ford. That was a bummer. the next-to-last restart, I thought that I had the 9 (Byron) cleared, but he just got a big pull. I don’t know if he got a push from behind and got up beside me and pulled a side-draft, and then, Denny got behind. I would have been okay if it was just him, but the two of them together, I couldn’t defend it. It was a good run; all-in-all, a lot to be proud of.”
Kyle Busch finished fifth after starting on the pole. Despite starting up front, he failed to lead a lap.
Keselowski, who started next to him on the front row, led the first lap after the two front-row starters got together on the opening lap. The contact resulted in Busch spinning into the infield grass.
Keselowski led every lap of the first 30-lap stage and took the stage win. The first laps he didn’t lead came when Cole Custer and several other drivers took two tires during the caution between the first two stages of the race. Keselowski, after taking four tires, restarted outside the top-five.
Keselowski retook the lead on lap 49 and was up front when the yellow flag waved on lap 57, three laps before the end of stage two. Sadler, along with several other Xfinity Series regulars, stayed out until the end of the second stage to claim his third stage win. Keselowski gave up the lead by being among those who pitted before stage end.
Sadler continued to stay out at the beginning at the third stage to maintain his lead, within 10 laps of the lap-65 restart, though, Keselowski was back up front.
Teams were able to make their final pit stops under yellow, courtesy of a debris caution with just over 40 laps to go. Hamlin and Keselowski were the first two off pit road after taking only two tires. Sadler, needing more time on pit road to get more fuel after staying out earlier, took four and restarted 12th.
As Sadler moved back up toward the front, Hamlin pulled away from Keselowski and the rest of the field. Hamlin maintained the lead until a restart inside the final 10 laps when Byron pushed Keselowski out front and then took the lead for himself.
“The Hisense 4K TV Camry was fast all day,” Hamlin said. “Definitely didn’t want that debris caution at the end. I did see it up in turn three, and I was just hoping they wasn’t going to call it, but I tell you, proud of this whole team. Pit stops were awesome.”
The yellow flag waved one more time with five laps remaining for a Matt Tifft spin. Byron and Hamlin restarted first and second with two laps remaining.
Finishing sixth through 10th were Ty Dillon, Paul Menard, Ryan Reed, Brandon Jones and Custer.
Follow Auto Racing Daily on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (facebook.com/autorcngdaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook (facebook.com/nascarexaminer)

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Posted by on June 17, 2017. Filed under Breaking News,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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