Denny Hamlin Finishes Fifth at Darlington Raceway


Date: September 5, 2020 

Event: Sport Clips Help A Hero 200

Series: NASCAR Xfinity Series

Location: Darlington Raceway (1.366-mile Oval)

Format: 147 laps (3 Stages: 45 laps / 90 laps / 147 laps)

Start/Finish: 37th/5th (Running, Completed 147 of 147 laps)


Race Winner:  Brandon Jones  

Stage 1 Winner: Denny Hamlin         

Stage 2 Winner: Denny Hamlin   


Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1 – 45)

·        Denny Hamlin and the No. 54 Sport Clips Toyota Supra team started the Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway from the 37th position and won stage one.

·        Starting the 147-lap race from the rear of the field, Hamlin wasted no time moving forward and was comfortably in the top 10 when the caution flag waved on lap 20. Crew chief Jacob Canter opted to stay out under the caution and Hamlin restarted the race from ninth on lap 25.

·        With a fast Supra, Hamlin picked off one competitor at a time and took the lead for the first time on lap 34 where he remained when the caution flag waved on lap 45 to end the stage. Reporting the handling of the No. 54 Sport Clips Supra was a little too tight in turns three and four, Hamlin to pitted for four tires, fuel and an adjustment during the caution period. 


Stage 2 Recap (Laps 46 – 90)

·        Hamlin started the second stage from the 11th position and won the stage.

·        Following a hiccup on pit road with the left-rear tire, Hamlin restarted the race from 11th on lap 51 for the start of stage two.

·        Even with the Sport Clips Supra handling turning a little too free, Hamlin was able to continue his march back to the front to retake the lead on lap 83.

·        The caution waved on lap 89 for a wreck and on lap 90, the stage ended with Hamlin and the Sport Clips team capturing the stage win. Canter again called Hamlin to pit road for four tires, fuel and another set of adjustments. 


Stage 3 Recap (Laps 91 – 147)

·        Hamlin started the final stage of the Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 from the third position and finished the race in fifth place.

·        For the final stage of the 147-lap race, Hamlin restarted the race from third on lap 95 and was in the second position when the caution waved on lap 101. The team opted to stay out under the caution and restarted the race from the lead on lap 106. 

·        A few laps later, the caution was again displayed and Hamlin hit pit road for four tires, fuel and a small adjustment. The race restarted on lap 115 with the No. 54 team in 12th place.

·        Soon after the restart, there were reports of fluid on the track, but before NASCAR could display the caution flag, the leaders spun and brought out the caution on lap 117. With 30 laps remaining in the race and a lengthy cleanup needed, NASCAR displayed the red flag on lap 120. 

·        Following the red flag for track clean up, the race resumed on lap 126 with Hamlin scored fourth.

·        Hamlin quickly moved to second following the restart and turned his focus to passing leader Ross Chastain. As the pair battled hard for the lead position, Hamlin made a move to pass Chastain in the final laps and unfortunately, made contact with the wall as he cleared Chastain and lost his position and momentum.

·        Hamlin went on to finish the race in the fifth position.


DENNY HAMLIN, No. 54 Sport Clips Toyota Supra, Joe Gibbs Racing

Finishing Position: 5th

Was that a Hail Mary move?

“Yeah, a little bit. I thought I could clear him and get slowed up in time before I got to the wall, but just couldn’t overcome the loss of track position after every caution. He was running his line, and I was running my line. I thought we had a great race going there. I saw an opportunity there to clear, but once I did, I just carried a little too much speed there going into three. Obviously, he got in the back of us and it allowed the 19 (Brandon Jones) to catch up to the both of us, with both of us battling like that. It was fun, it just didn’t work out.”


You kept it very clean. Was it going through your mind that he’s an Xfinity Series regular?

“Yeah, I tried to race him really clean, and do the best I could to give him the space that he had earned up front. So, I tried to get him loose here and there, but never tried to really run into him and get him up the track, but maybe, I should have waited another lap and tried to do that. I just had such a good run off of (turn) two that I had the opportunity to go clear him, but I just couldn’t get the car slowed down enough.”


Additional Notes:  

·        Hamlin’s fifth-place finish marked his 10th top-five finish at Darlington Raceway in the Xfinity Series.

·        With his top-10 finish, Hamlin now has 100 top-10 finishes in the Xfinity Series.

·        Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Brandon Jones won the race, Riley Herbst finished fourth and Harrison Burton finished sixth.


Up Next: The No. 54 Toyota Supra team will run their final race of the season next weekend at Richmond Raceway for the Go Bowling 250 on Friday, September 11, 2020, with Kyle Busch in the driver seat. The race broadcast will begin at 7:00 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on NBCSN, MRN radio and SIRIUS XM Channel 90.