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Late caution gives Hamlin a second chance and he beats Gibbs teammate Truex at Richmond Raceway

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Denny Hamlin won the race off pit road with Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr. after a caution with two laps to go and won in overtime at Richmond Raceway on Sunday night.

Truex dominated the second half of the NASCAR Cup Series race — he led 288 laps — and seemed poised to hold off challenges by Joey Logano and Hamlin for the final two laps when Kyle Larson got nudged from behind on the front straightaway and skidded into the infield, causing the caution.

“I needed that kind of situation at the end to happen to win it,” Hamlin said.

Larson had been fading from contention before the spin.

“I was a little bit loose and then I got a shot there,” Larson said of the bump from Bubba Wallace that almost certainly cost Truex his fourth victory at Richmond.

On the restart, Hamlin got a good jump from the inside lane, withstood a challenge from the outside from Truex and held off Truex and two other challengers for the surprise victory.

“This is a team win for sure,” Hamlin said after climbing from his car. “The trophy needs to go to each one of these pit crew members. They just did amazing job. They’ve been killing it all year.”

Hamlin’s victory was his second this season, the fifth of his career at what he considers his home track, and the 53rd of his career, but it left Truex unhappy with several drivers involved.

“We got beat out of the pits and he jumped the restart,” Truex said of Hamlin. “Had a car capable of winning. So just have to come back next week trying to get him again.”

NASCAR said they reviewed the restart and it was within the rules.

After the race, a frustrated Truex door-slammed Larson as they coasted into the first turn, then bumped Hamlin from behind three times.

“I think he just gets more mad at Denny, but I was the closest one to take his anger out on,” Larson said. “It’s all good. I hope he doesn’t have any hard feelings for me, because I definitely don’t towards him.”

The victory pulled the four Gibbs Toyota teams even with the four Chevrolet teams from Hendrick Motorsports with three victories each through seven races.

Larson, who won this race last year, barely beat Truex off pit road during green flag stops with 65 laps to go, but Truex quickly caught him and pulled away as he had many times earlier.

Logano, who started the race 22nd in points with just one top 10 finish, worked his way into the lead pack in the second half, tried to run down Hamlin in the two-lap dash to the finish and was second, followed by Larson and Truex. It matched Ford’s best finish this season.

The race was delayed for about 30 minutes at the start because of rain, and the cars circled the track for several laps hoping to help dry the track before the green flag flew. They also ran the opening 30 laps on treaded tires meant for wet conditions before switching to racing slicks.

The competition caution after 30 laps also was non-competitive, meaning the drivers left pit road in the same position they were running when the caution came out.

A spin by Daniel Suarez on lap 64 brought out another caution, and NASCAR decided to finish the 70-lap first stage under caution, making Larson the stage winner. NASCAR also sent the track drying vehicles down pit road again hoping to dry out the pit boxes for safety reasons.

UP NEXT

The series completes its short track swing in Virginia next Sunday at Martinsville Speedway.

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AP NASCAR: https://apnews.com/hub/nascar-racing

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