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Hamlin claims second consecutive Kansas victory; Super Start Batteries 400 recap

NASCAR Cup Series Super Start Batteries 400 Presented by O'Reilly Auto Parts
KANSAS CITY, KANSAS – JULY 23: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Office Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Super Start Batteries 400 Presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts at Kansas Speedway on July 23, 2020 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

The heart in the “heartland” may belong to Denny Hamlin as he has now claimed two consecutive Cup wins at Kansas Speedway, a track in the heartland of the U.S.

Hamlin won Thursday night’s Super Start Batteries 400 after passing Kevin Harvick with 13 laps to go and holding off Brad Keselowski by a margin of victory of 0.510 seconds.

It is Hamlin’s fifth win of 2020 and 42nd of his career, two away from his childhood hero, Bill Elliott, on the all-time Cup wins list.

NASCAR Cup Series Super Start Batteries 400 Presented by O'Reilly Auto Parts
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Keselowski’s second-place finish was his first second-place finish and his seventh top 5 of 2020. He led 30 laps and won stage two.

Martin Truex Jr. finished third after leading 44 laps. It is Truex’s second top 5 in the last three races.

Kevin Harvick executed a near-perfect restart with 22 laps to go and passed Bowman for the lead. Harvick appeared to be cruising to victory until his car faded late, dropping him back to a fourth-place finish, with nine laps led.

Alex Bowman finished eighth after leading six laps. Bowman led those six laps after passing teammate William Byron on a lap 240 restart. The two drivers eventually faded as they were on two new tires compared to other drivers on four new tires.

William Byron appeared to be heading toward an easy victory with 31 laps to go. He led by 2.5 seconds over Keselowski when a caution came out for Corey Lajoie having issues in turn 2.

Interim crew chief Keith Rodden brought Byron in for two tires, which proved to be costly. Byron was passed by Bowman on the ensuing restart and was eventually shuffled back on the final restart on lap 246 to finish tenth, with 27 laps led.

The top ten finishers were as follows: Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, Erik Jones, Aric Almirola, Cole Custer, Alex Bowman, Kurt Busch and William Byron.

Kyle Busch won his first stage of 2020, with a win in stage two. Busch also led the second-most laps of the night (54) but finished 11th after hitting the wall late.

Matt Kenseth finished 17th after tangling with Bubba Wallace on lap 172. Kenseth suffered damage but was able to keep going while Bubba was not. Bubba finished 37th, out of the race.

Ryan Blaney led 15 laps and was running inside the top 10 when he made contact with the wall late in the race, dropping him back to a 20th-place finish.

Texas winner Austin Dillon finished 27th after being involved in a lap 177 crash that took out Playoff bubble drivers Matt DiBenedetto and Jimmie Johnson, as well as Joey Logano.

 

DiBenedetto finished 36th while Johnson finished 32nd and Logano finished 35th after leading 27 laps. All three drivers did not finish the race.

Bad luck continued for the Kroger JTG-Daugherty Racing as both Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Ryan Preece did not finish Thursday night’s race.

Stenhouse finished 40th after having electrical issues that ended his day on lap 58.

Preece was involved in a scary lap 183 crash on lap 183 that also involved Ryan Newman, Chris Buescher and Christopher Bell. Preece finished 34th after three consecutive last-place finishes in previous weeks.

Stenhouse currently sits 25th in Cup points while Preece sits 31st, currently out of contention for the Playoffs even with a win.

There were 21 lead changes among nine drivers, including Hamlin who led four times for 57 laps, the most of any driver.

Other lap leaders were Kyle Busch (52), Martin Truex Jr. (44), Brad Keselowski (30), William Byron (27), Joey Logano (27), Ryan Blaney (15), Kevin Harvick (9) and Alex Bowman (6).

There were 11 cautions for 47 laps and the race’s average speed was 121.835 MPH.

On the Playoff bubble, William Byron holds the final spot by 10 points over Tyler Reddick, 12 over Erik Jones and 18 over Jimmie Johnson, with seven races remaining until the Playoffs begin.

The next race for the NASCAR Cup Series is the Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (3 p.m. ET, TV: NBCSN; Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

SOURCES:
NASCAR
Racing-Reference.Info 

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