Denny Hamlin Grabs The Number 3 Seed With Weekend Victory

Denny Hamlin took his final lead of the night with seventy-nine laps remaining Saturday at Richmond International Raceway and kept the Number-11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in front through six subsequent restarts, closing the regular season with his third victory of the year and securing the Number-3 seed in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup that opens next weekend at Chicagoland Speedway.  Hamlin’s margin of victory over runner-up Kyle Larson was six-tenths of a second.  Martin Truex Junior led a race-high 193 laps and nabbed third place with Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick completing the top five.  Hamlin started from the pole and led 189 laps to give J-G-R a season sweep on the three-quarter-mile Fairgrounds oval.  Carl Edwards was victorious in April but finished thirty-second in his bid for back-to-back wins there … With The Chase Grid now filled, championship points have been reset.  Keselowski and Kyle Busch are tied at the top by virtue of their four victories during the regular season.  Busch gets the Number-1 seed by winning the tiebreaker, which is based on second-place finishes.  He has three, Keselowski one.  With two wins this year, Harvick – the regular-season points leader – holds the Number-4 seed … The four drivers who went into the weekend holding the final four provisional spots in the Chase – Chris Buescher, rookie Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon and Jamie McMurray – came out of the weekend with their post-season tickets punched after finishing among the top twenty-five in the forty-car field.


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