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NASCAR Cup Series: Hamlin beats Larson to Dover victory

Written by Sean McKean

Credit - James Gilbert / Getty Images

On Sunday afternoon, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin took his third win of the season at the Monster Mile in Dover, Delaware. This win is Hamlin’s 54th of his career, and it ties him with Lee Petty for 12th on the all-time winners’ list.

Pre-race, one of the biggest stories came from the garage of Legacy Motor Club, specifically in the #43 car. After suffering a back injury following his crash at Talladega, Erik Jones had to sit out of this race, thus giving Truck Series points leader Corey Heim his cup debut in a Richard Petty tribute car.

At the start, pole sitter Kyle Busch got away well and led proceedings. The first 25 laps were quiet, with the sole exception being SHR’s Ryan Preece. In the opening stages, the foam on his passenger door caught on fire; as a result, he had to retire from the race.

The first caution of the race came out for Front Row Racing’s Todd Gilliland on lap 39. While battling Austin Dillon for position coming off turn four, he overcorrected into Dillon’s car, sending himself around on the frontstretch. Gilliland continued with minimal damage.

On pit road, Busch had a slow stop, so it allowed Ryan Blaney to lead the field to the green on the following restart alongside William Byron. He didn’t hold it long, though, as JGR’s Martin Truex – a four-time winner at the track himself – marched forward to take the lead on lap 90.

However, the race was interrupted yet again on lap 118. Going into turn two, RFK’s Brad Keselowski’s left-rear tire went flat. Resultantly, he was sent into a spin. Akin to Gilliland, Keselowski got away from this spin with little damage.

This spin brought an end to the first stage of action: Truex kept the top spot followed by Byron in second and Talladega winner Tyler Reddick in third.

Truex cruised to stage victory after marching to the front | Credit - Alejandro Alvarez /

There were less issues in the pits as they went back to green flag action led by Truex, who kept the lead off the restart. But, unlike typical Dover proceedings, there was a lengthy green-flag stint. Truex, who had led decisively, got shuffled back to fourth due to the failing of an alternate strategy.

In a quiet second stage, Kyle Larson came home to secure the top spot, followed by teammate Alex Bowman and JGR’s Denny Hamlin.

On pit road, Hamlin’s pit crew reigned supreme, and it allowed him to have control on the next restart on lap 259. Hamlin kept the lead all the way until pit cycles on lap 315: Larson pitted with Hamlin and managed to get the jump on him coming out of the pits, giving the lead back to Larson. 

Larson kept his lead over the #11 as the next yellow flag came out on lap 322. Coming out of the pits himself, 2023 Daytona 500 winner Ricky Stenhouse tried merging back onto the track but ran into a competitor, sending him into a spin on the backstretch and into the wall. He ended up retiring from this incident.

On lap 328, Kyle Larson led the field back to the green, but not only did Denny Hamlin quickly retake the lead, but the yellow flag would come right back out. Out of turn two, Bubba Wallace was tagged into a spin, and he spun back into the path of the rest of the field. Getting the worst out of the pileup were Byron, Wallace and Christopher Bell – all of whom retiring from the crash.

Byron, Wallace and Bell received major damage from this incident | Credit - Logan Riely / Getty Images

The next restart on lap 338 was much cleaner with Hamlin still retaining the lead. While Larson remained within reach of the JGR driver, he was no match for him as he crossed the line to take his third win of the season and second at the Monster Mile. Larson and Truex followed behind him in the top three. Kyle Busch achieved a much-needed strong run with fourth ahead of Chase Elliott in fifth.

Noah Gragson – fresh off his best career finish in Talladega – gets his second top ten in a row in sixth. Blaney rallied back for seventh ahead of Bowman in eighth. Daniel Hemric is another driver adding onto a top ten streak in ninth, likewise is Gibbs, who secured tenth.

As for Corey Heim in the #43, he managed to finish 25th. Though that may not look impressive on paper, to finish strong on short notice at a tough race track is no small feat.

Catch the next round of NASCAR action, as they head to the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway. 


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