Hamlin Wins Thrilling XFINITY Series Race at Darlington

Who said you can’t have Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers in a NASCAR XFINITY Series race? Yes, last week’s story of Jeremy Clements winning the XFINITY Series race at Road America will pull far more weight than a Cup regular winning in the feeder series. But, as far as racing action goes, the finish of Saturday’s XFINITY Series race at the Darlington Raceway was just as good as last weekend’s race on the Wisconsin road course.

Denny Hamlin at Darlington

Kevin Harvick got by Joey Logano for the lead with 31 laps-to-go in today’s Sports Clips VFW 200 as it looked like he’d easily cruise to a dominating win. As dominant as Harvick was on Saturday afternoon from the 1.366-mile South Carolina track, Logano and Denny Hamlin were just as good. 

A caution flag flew with 11 to go though when Dakoda Armstrong spun in Turn 4. That would bunch the field back up and bring the leaders on pit road for the final time of the day.

Harvick had a great stop, but by the benefit of the No. 1 pit stall, Joey Logano beat him out.

On the restart, it would be Logano, Harvick, Denny Hamlin 1-2-3. But, they wouldn’t finish that way. On the drop of the green flag, it would be wild. Erik Jones and Hamlin would make it three-wide on the backstretch while battling Harvick for second.

Harvick, would actually slide to sixth.

But, another caution would fly when defending winner Elliott Sadler thought he was clear but came up on Jones on the front stretch. That would bring out the ninth and final caution with five laps-to-go.

We’d go back green with two laps left and Hamlin got an excellent restart on Logano. But, on the backstretch on the final lap, Logano would get Hamlin back. Hamlin, would work the slidejob and pass Logano in Turn 4 en route to his 17th career XFINITY Series victory.

Five of those 17 wins though have come at Darlington (2006, 2007, 2010, 2015, 2017) all five coming from the pole too.

Hamin led 33 laps in his No. 18 Toyota on Saturday, earning his third top five finish in XFINITY Series competition in four races this season. All coming consecutively including a win in his last start out at Michigan.

Logano, would have to settle for second in his No. 22 Ford for his sixth top three finish in 10 starts this season. He also had nine total top 10’s in those races. The Team Penske driver led a race-high 58 of the 148 laps.

Harvick, would have to settle for third in his No. 41 Ford, leading 54 laps himself. It was his sixth top six finish this season in six starts.

Erik Jones would bring his No. 20 Toyota home fourth  for his seventh top five in 12 starts this season while rookie William Byron would finish fifth in his No. 9 Chevrolet. It was Byron’s first top five since his win at Indy but 16th top 10 of the season.

The series will head to Richmond for a Friday night race next weekend.

Sports Clips VFW 200 Results

  1. 18 Hamlin
  2. 22 Logano
  3. 41 Harvick
  4. 20 E. Jones
  5.  9 Byron R
  6. 48 Poole
  7.   3 T. Dillon
  8.   7 Allgaier
  9. 00 Custer R
  10.   2 A. Dillon
  11. 11 Koch
  12. 96 Kennedy R
  13. 62 Gaughan
  14.  4 Chastain
  15. 16 Reed
  16. 42 Reddick
  17.   5 Annett
  18. 21 Hemric R
  19. 14 Yeley
  20. 90 Brown
  21. 51 Clements
  22. 39 Sieg
  23. 33 B. Jones
  24. 01 Rhodes
  25. 07 Black Jr.
  26.   0 Smithley
  27.   8 McLeod
  28. 52 Gase
  29. 28 Armstrong -1
  30. 24 Lupton R -1
  31. 78 Martins -3
  32. 40 Hill -3
  33.  1 Sadler OUT
  34. 23 Gallagher R -8
  35. 74 Harmon -13
  36. 99 Starr -16
  37. 89 Shepherd OUT
  38. 13 Long OUT
  39. 93 Green OUT
  40. 19 Tifft R OUT

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