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Denny Hamlin Drives to Toyota Owners 400 Victory at Richmond

Denny Hamlin

Denny Hamlin celebrates his second win of the season after capturing the Toyota Owners 400 victory at Richmond. (Photo: Daniel Rankin | The Podium Finish)

RICHMOND, Va. — Denny Hamlin succeeded in his drive for five in Sunday night’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway.

While Hamlin started 11th, he was biding his time when the race started in damp conditions. In a first for the NASCAR Cup Series, the field took to an oval track with wet weather tires.

Like most of the 36-driver field, Hamlin bided his time, finishing 11th in Stage 1. As the track conditions evolved with drier lines becoming more abundant, NASCAR elected for teams to make their first, live competitive pit stops during the stage break caution.

With teams bolting on their slicks, drivers gained more confidence with taking to 0.75-mile short track in their usual fast, hard charging manner. Mainly, Kyle Larson had the pace and prowess as he won Stage 1 and dominated the first half of the race.

The turning point of the race came during the second competitive round of pit stops beginning on Lap 123. Hamlin and Brad Keselowski pitted on this particular lap for tires and fuel, preferring to maximize their tire advantage versus splitting Stage 2 in half.

Kyle Larson

Kyle Larson dominated the first half of Sunday night’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond. (Photo: Daniel Rankin | The Podium Finish)

For Larson and his No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 team, they rolled the dice while leading the way. Pitting on Lap 152, Larson worked his way back into the top 10 just 19 laps later.

However, a caution for Kyle Busch’s Turn 2 encounter on Lap 170 derailed Larson’s long run pit stop strategy. Rather than inheriting the lead had the green flag run progressed in Stage 2, Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano, Josh Berry and Chris Buescher leapfrogged Larson in terms of track position.

Suddenly, the race shifted from the Larson’s dominant Sunday night showdown to Truex’s Richmond masterclass. Winning Stage 2 ahead of Berry, Logano, Larson and Hamlin, it was evident that the Joe Gibbs Racing duo would battle Logano and Larson for the rest of the night.

Once Stage 3 was underway, Truex appeared well on his way to his first win of the 2024 season. All he needed to do was get to the final lap with the wave of the white flag.

With two laps remaining to the original, 400-lap distance, Larson, who slipped to fourth, was spun just past the start/finish line stripe by Bubba Wallace. Inevitably, the caution was out for the fifth time in Sunday night’s race.

This caution period frustrated Truex as he led the lead lap contenders to pit road for their final pit stop. Coming off pit road, Hamlin bested Truex and took the lead prior to the NASCAR Overtime restart.

Then, on the Lap 406 restart, Hamlin led the way on a controversial restart that left Truex fuming in the final two laps. While Hamlin pulled ahead of Truex and bested Logano to the stripe by 0.269 seconds for his second win of the year, Larson eked out a third place finish, trading paint with Truex.

Hamlin complimented his No. 11 pit crew following his fifth win at Richmond Raceway and his 53rd career Cup triumph.

Denny Hamlin

A quietly confident Denny Hamlin prevailed in Sunday night’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond. (Photo: Daniel Rankin | The Podium Finish)

“I’ve had the best pit crew all year long,” Hamlin said. “I loved our chances. We still had Martin – he was the deserving race winner there, but you give these pit crews an opportunity – this is what it is all about. You have to have your whole team put together – and they just killed it today.”

Typically vociferous after a win, Hamlin was genuinely candid about the challenges of battling and passing the leader on the track.

“We were close all day long,” he said. “We kept the leader right there close to us, but just couldn’t quite get there. It was so excruciatingly hard to pass. It made it really difficult – even with newer tires. I needed that kind of situation in the end to be able to win it.”

Beyond further securing a Playoff spot, Hamlin acknowledged the historical moment with the wet weather package’s utilization in a points paying race.

“That was different for sure, but this is what it was designed for,” Hamlin shared. “It got us back on track earlier. It is unbelievable that we were able to run a little bit in the wet weather, and a little bit in the dry, and we ended up coming out ahead.”

Joey Logano

Joey Logano captured his first top five finish of the year in Sunday night’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond. (Photo: Daniel Rankin | The Podium Finish)

Logano tallied his first top five result of the year and it came at his best Cup track from a statistical standpoint. Jumping from 22nd to 19th in the championship standings, the Team Penske racer found his runner up result to be bittersweet.

“Not once he cleared the 19,” Logano admitted. “I had a chance. I didn’t get a good enough restart. I really wanted to pressure them down into one and force them to work up Truex, but I spun my tires there just trying to stay with them and that ultimately cost me to be close enough to do something. I don’t know.

“It feels good to be towards the front again. We haven’t had a run like that in a while, but it also stings to be that close and not capitalize on the win. I guess I have mixed emotions. We had a really good car, a car that was capable of winning if we were in the front, but we didn’t execute everywhere else good enough to get there.”

Meanwhile, Larson, the defending Toyota Owners 400 winner and polesitter, may have benefitted from his Lap 399 spin. Although it was not exactly a great moment for the 2021 Cup champion, he sang his praises for his No. 5 team.

“Just got spun there down the frontstretch,” Larson said. “Thankfully, I didn’t get turned all the way around and I only lost one or two spots there. My pit crew did a great job all night to gain those couple of spots back on pit road for us to lineup fourth and get one spot out of it.

“Proud of the No. 5 Chevy team. I’m really, really happy about the execution all night long. My pit crew kept putting us in position to have a shot to win, so can’t say much more.”

Denny Hamlin

Denny Hamlin enjoys the spoils of winning Sunday night’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond. (Photo: Daniel Rankin | The Podium Finish)

As for Hamlin, who moves from fourth to third in the standings, has not grown tired of winning in the Dominion State.

“No, no way,” Hamlin said. “We have high aspirations this year, and how many wins we can get, and this is putting us right on track.”

Stage 1 Top 10 Finishers
  1. Kyle Larson
  2. Bubba Wallace
  3. Alex Bowman
  4. Martin Truex Jr.
  5. Joey Logano
  6. Todd Gilliland
  7. Chase Elliott
  8. Ross Chastain
  9. Josh Berry (R)
  10. Ryan Preece
Stage 2 Top 10 Finishers
  1. Martin Truex Jr.
  2. Josh Berry (R)
  3. Joey Logano
  4. Kyle Larson
  5. Denny Hamlin
  6. Christopher Bell
  7. Chris Buescher
  8. Bubba Wallace
  9. William Byron
  10. Tyler Reddick
Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway Race Results
Finish Start Car No. Driver Sponsor/Make Status
1 11 11 Denny Hamlin Mavis Tires & Brakes Toyota Running
2 10 22 Joey Logano Shell Pennzoil 400 Running
3 1 5 Kyle Larson Chevrolet Running
4 7 19 Martin Truex Jr. Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota Running
5 2 9 Chase Elliott UniFirst Chevrolet Running
6 29 20 Christopher Bell Mobil 1 Toyota Running
7 13 24 William Byron Liberty University Chevrolet Running
8 23 6 Brad Keselowski Ford Running
9 14 17 Chris Buescher Nexletol Ford Running
10 19 45 Tyler Reddick SiriusXM Toyota Running
11 30 4 Josh Berry (R) SunnyD Ford Running
12 17 10 Noah Gragson (R) Superior Essex Ford Running
13 5 23 Bubba Wallace McDonald’s Toyota Running
14 27 43 Erik Jones Dollar Tree Toyota Running
15 3 1 Ross Chastain Busch Light Chevrolet Running
16 8 54 Ty Gibbs Monster Energy Toyota Running
17 4 48 Alex Bowman Ally Chevrolet Running
18 32 14 Chase Briscoe Ford Running
19 12 12 Ryan Blaney Menards/Duracell Ford Running
20 15 8 Kyle Busch Rebel Bourbon Chevrolet Running
21 6 38 Todd Gilliland FARXIGA(dapagliflozin) Ford Running
22 20 99 Daniel Suárez Quaker State Chevrolet Running
23 9 2 Austin Cindric Discount Tire Ford Running
24 22 3 Austin Dillon BREZTRI Chevrolet Running
25 18 42 John Hunter Nemechek Safeway Toyota Running
26 31 34 Michael McDowell Long John Silver’s Ford Running
27 25 77 Carson Hocevar (R) Delaware Life Chevrolet Running
28 16 41 Ryan Preece United Rentals Ford Running
29 33 16 Ty Dillon (i) Chevy Accessories Chevrolet Running
30 34 31 Daniel Hemric LA Golf Chevrolet Running
31 35 15 Kaz Grala (R) N29 Capital Partners Chevrolet Running
32 36 51 Justin Haley Walmart Health & Wellness Ford Running
33 24 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Kroger/NOS Energy Drink Chevrolet Running
34 26 21 Harrison Burton DEX Imaging Ford Running
35 28 71 Zane Smith (R) Focused Health Chevrolet Running
36 21 7 Corey LaJoie Gainbridge Chevrolet Running

Rob Tiongson is a 30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught his eyes. From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by him or by one of his talented columnists who have a passion for racing. Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. He enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat. Tiongson, a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, pursues his Master of Arts in Digital Journalism at St. Bonaventure University. Indeed, while Tiongson is proud to be from Massachusetts, he's an everywhere kind of man residing in Texas.

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