Hamlin wins in Bristol to close out Round 1 of Playoffs 

Denny Hamlin racing No. 11 car. Photo courtesy of Taurus Emerald.

Denny Hamlin took first place in the Bass Pro Shops Night Race at the Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee, in the final race of Round 1. The playoff win was Hamlin’s third on the track, advancing him to the Round of 12.

“It’s our year, I just feel like we got it all put together.” Hamlin said to NBC Sports in the post-race interview.

During the race, Hamlin was penalized for speeding into his first pit stop, but he overcame that obstacle and still won the race weekend. 

The Bristol Motor Speedway is the fourth largest sports venue in America. It consists of two pit roads, steep banking, meaning higher chances for contact between cars, and overall is a slower track than most NASCAR speedways. It’s a 500-lap race totaling 266.5 miles, with Stages 1&2 being 125 laps each. 

Bubba Wallace and Kyle Larson had a little tussle when Larson bumped Wallace’s No.  23 Toyota Camry into the side of the wall. Wallace was told over the radio not to engage with the No. 5 Chevy Camaro. Wallace ended the race in 14th place, squeezing himself into the Round of 12.

Larson placed second this weekend, putting him in fourth place in the playoff point standings with 23. Larson came from the rear of the field and rebounded from a penalty, clinching the second-place finish. Larson was penalized during his first pit stop of the race for running over equipment. He also started at the rear because of a bobble in qualifying. 

Christopher Bell took third after crossing the checkered line first in the qualifying Round. The No. 20 Toyota Camry led for 187 laps and seeded seventh, going into the Round of 12. 

Martin Truex Jr., despite his 19th-place finish at the Bristol Motor Speedway, still holds his second place in the playoff, standing behind William Byron, who occupies the first-place position. 

Michael Mcdowell finished the race sixth, but it was not enough to get him over the hump into the next Round in playoffs.

“Those first two races just killed us,” Mcdowell said to NBC Sports. “Not the run we needed to have tonight but still a good performance, really proud of everybody.” 

Kevin Harvick was amongst the drivers, Mcdowell, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Joey Logano, who failed to make it above the elimination line. 

“I didn’t really have many expectations, you know with as up and down as the year has been,” Harvick said to NBC Sports. “It is what it is, that’s probably about what we deserve.” 

The drivers in the Round of 12 include Byron, Truex Jr., Hamlin, Larson, Chris Buescher, Kyle Busch, Bell, Tyler Reddick, Ross Chastain, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney, and Wallace. 

The Round of 12 begins on Sept. 24 in Fort Worth, Texas, for the AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400 at the Texas Motor Speedway.


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