Denny Hamlin wins thrilling rain-shortened sequel at Darlington

Photo by Getty Images

NASCAR held its first race on a Wednesday night since 1984, and after the action that unfolded, NASCAR should consider running it back.

Before the showers came with under 25 laps to go, drivers were racing with more aggression and assertiveness than on Sunday; most likely due to drivers being more comfortable after 293 laps just over 72 hours ago.

Ryan Preece and Ty Dillon led the field to green, but Preece would fade quickly in stage one and would head to the garage with a mechanical issue later on. Dillon would hold the lead for eight laps, but would fade as well.

On Lap 2, rookie John Hunter Nemechek, who scored a top-10 finish on Sunday, wrecked and would finish six laps down in 35th place.

The story of the early portion of the race was Clint Bowyer. He was the dominant car in the first two stages and would win the first two stages. He quickly became the favorite to win the race, but after a jumbled restart in the final stage, Bowyer would slam the all, and spin out to ruin his day. Bowyer wound up finishing 22nd.

Ricky Stenhouse had a four-day trip at Darlington that he would like to forget. While he made it past Lap 1, Stenhouse would wreck early on in stage two and finish 25th on the day.

Ryan Blaney also had a lackluster weekend as he would clip the wall Wednesday night. Blaney finished 16th on Sunday, and wound up finishing 21st tonight.

In the final stage, the battle for the win came down to Chase Elliott versus Joe Gibbs Racing. Erik Jones would take Bowyer and Ryan Newman three-wide and would take the lead for 27 laps before being caught by Elliott. Elliott would go on to lead 28 laps before the lone green flag stops of the day.

Late race caution would ensue and Elliott would be in a battle with Jones, Kyle Busch, and Denny Hamlin. On the final restart of the race, Hamlin would hold serve in the lead, Elliott got a good run off of turn four, but would be turned by Busch as they went down the frontstretch. Elliott would hit the inside wall hard to bring an end to his day, and the rest of the race. Rain showers would hit soon after, and NASCAR would call the race, awarding Hamlin the victory. After the race, Busch admitted that he misjudged the gap between Elliott and Kevin Harvick that he was trying to fit in. Busch also said that he will reach out to Elliott to discuss the wreck.

Hamlin scores his second victory of 2020 and 39th of his career.

Busch wound up finishing second, followed by Harvick, Brad Keselowski, and Jones to round out the top-five. Joey Logano, Aric Almirola, Jimmie Johnson, Matt DiBenedetto, and Martin Truex Jr. rounded out the top 10.

Notable stats:

  • Erik Jones’ fifth-place finish was his first top-five of 2020.
  • Matt DiBenedetto scored his second top-10 finish of 2020.
  • Christopher Bell’s 11th-place finish was his first finish inside the top 20 in 2020.

The Cup Series returns to the track on Sunday for the Crown Jewel event Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Results: https://www.jayski.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/31/2020/05/21/2020-06cup-results.pdf

Driver points: https://www.jayski.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/31/2020/05/21/2020-06cup-points.pdf

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