Standings, bubble drivers entering final regular-season race — NASCAR playoffs

Standings, bubble drivers entering final regular-season race — NASCAR playoffs

Standings, bubble drivers entering final regular-season race — NASCAR playoffs

Sadler, who'll sport a back-in-the-day look run by Allison's rival Cale Yarborough, asked Allison not to come up and take a swing at him as Allison did to Yarborough in their famous Daytona 500 fight in 1979. "I mean right here at Turn 4 it doesn't get much more exciting", Smith said.

The win was Hamlin's second win of the 2017 Monster Energy Cup Series season and second at historic Darlington, NASCAR's oldest superspeedway that's hosted premier division races since 1950.

"That was definitely a good, successful qualifying session for us", said Truex Jr. "I love when anything happens to get people to take a moment to remember him, recognize him, honor him", he said. Whether it's good history or bad history will depend on if NASCAR's best can rise to the top or if they wind up on the bottom. Hamlin's 31 wins are the most of any active driver without a Cup title. "Gentleman Jim Whitt" won the track championship at Cajon Speedway in 1969 and his son Tobin, Cole's dad, won the track championship 20 years later in the "Lime Green Machine". I'm thinking another win or at least a top five is in the cards this weekend for Truex. Hamlin also swept the weekend's events that year.

Don't be surprised to see some drivers getting hot under the helmet this weekend on a track known for tight corners and flaring tempers. "It's kind of what you try to do and get single file down the back". However, Hamlin's dominance for much of the race almost went for naught as a result of the aforementioned pit road mistake.

Hamlin beat JGR teammate Kyle Busch to the finish line by 2.599 seconds as Truex faded to eighth after clinching the regular-season championship by winning the first two stages of the race. Darlington, a track where he has a 9.5 average finish over the past two races, is a ideal place to show off. Kahne also led 23 laps here in 2015 before wrecking out, showing he has speed here with Hendrick Motorsports even during a down cycle for his career. Hamlin had led 121 until he almost blew it entering the pits.

"We can still do this", Hamlin's crew chief Mike Wheeler told his driver after the miscue. Race distance: 501.3 miles, 367 laps Last year: Martin Truex Jr. kicked off a streak of three wins in five races at Darlington.

"Denny is obviously a wheel man here", Wheeler said. The advantage should help him advance to the second round and likely the third round. "If you don't win here with Denny, you probably didn't have a good enough vehicle".

Eleven different winners have won the last eleven races at Darlington Raceway.

While Hamlin can celebrate the victory that almost wasn't, he can also use it as a sign that he should be in the conversation when it comes to the season finale at Homestead. "But I think our race stuff is going to be great".

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