It took seven races, but three Cup Series veterans earned their first Top-5 finishes of 2022.
Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. picked up the win, second-place and fourth-place respectively in the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway Sunday (April 3).
Hamlin earned his 47th career Cup Series win and his first Top-5 finish since the Phoenix season finale in November.
“I love this track and the techniques that it takes to get around here,” Hamlin said. “I watched some of the greatest short track racers in the world at Southside Speedway and Langley.
“I’ve learned so much from those guys watching from the stands. When I finally got the opportunity to apply it for myself, I did.”
Hamlin is now ranked 20th in driver’s standings, all-but guaranteed a spot in NASCAR’s postseason.
Harvick, who now has a 50-race losing streak, earned his highest finish since a Top-5 finish at Kansas Speedway in October 2021.
“I wanted to be close enough with the white to just take a swipe at him, but the lapped cars kind of got in the way and I lost a little bit of ground,” Harvick said. “Still, it’s a great day for us and hopefully a little bit of momentum in a positive direction.”
Harvick is ranked eighth in driver’s standings, 45 points ahead of the playoff cutline.
Truex’s fourth-place finish — highlighted with 80 laps led — was his highest finish since a second-place result at the Phoenix season finale last November.
“Super-fast in clean air,” Truex said. “At the end there, I think we just tried to gamble on beating the 24 (William Bryon) and then he ended up doing our strategy and we both screwed up..”
Truex is ranked third in points, 64 points ahead of the playoff cutline.
Altogether, 22 drivers have earned at least one Top-5 finish this season. Ross Chastain leads the competition with four Top-5 finishes.
I am a co-owner and reporter for TheRacingExperts.com.