DENNY HAMLIN DELIVERS AT PHOENIX
It essentially took a win at ISM for Denny Hamlin to walk into Homestead-Miami with an opportunity at the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship, and win he did with a dominant victory.
The day in the Phoenix sun began with Kyle Busch winning his first pole in what many have called, even though he has four wins and a chance at the championship, a trying and difficult year for him. On the green, Busch cut low onto the track to keep the lead and Joey Logano followed through with him to get right on his bumper for second. After a quiet race with no changes for the first sixty-five laps the first caution came out for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. hitting the wall and getting to pit road with a flat tire. Everyone on the lead lap pitted aside from Brad Keselowski and William Byron. On the restart, Keselowski shot to the lead while Byron begin to fall; Brad didn’t hold the lead long however as Hamlin got ahead to get the stage win with Chase Elliott right behind him.
For the stage two restart, Chase got launched by Kyle Busch to the lead as Denny Hamlin began to falter; Logano went very high to squeeze himself into the lead and pull away. Elliott in second and Hamlin in third both began to talk about possible issues in their cars. After a very quiet stage, Logano cruised to an easy stage win while Hamlin and Elliott got aggressive for second.
Logano was the first off pit-road and the first to get away on the green as Hamlin spun his tires. The caution waved for the end of Chase Elliott’s playoff hopes; the aggressive driving with Hamlin continued on the restart and in the result, Elliott’s tire popped, and he slammed the wall. On the restart, Logano pulled away again but Hamlin was able to get right on his bumper and commit the pass which left only a one-point difference between Logano and Kyle Busch for the last championship position if Hamlin won. Logano had an internal issue and he began to fall in a hurry through the field and his hope for making the Final Four began to wane after he was lapped after some time. Denny lapped cars all the way to the top-ten until green flag stop began; after no issues, Hamlin was able to keep the lead. After a few laps of calm, the caution came out with ten to go as John Hunter Nemechek got into the wall with a flat tire. Everyone hit pit-road and Hamlin and Blaney were the first ones off as they only took two tires and the green came with only three to go. Hamlin got the restart he needed as Kyle Busch got to second, with Busch not being able to get a good run, Hamlin pulled away and got the win. The win locks him in with Martin Truex Jr, Kevin Harvick, and Kyle Busch for the Championship four going into Miami next week for the season finale