NASCAR at Richmond results: Denny Hamlin steals overtime win in rain-delayed Toyota Owners 400

After a caution with two laps to go completely changed the complexion of Sunday's race, a quick pit stop by Denny Hamlin's crew put Hamlin out front for an overtime restart, where he was able to outrun Martin Truex Jr. to win the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway and pick up his second win of the season. Hamlin's win is the 53rd of his Cup Series career and the fifth at the Chesterfield, Virginia, native's home racetrack.

Hamlin was running third with two laps to go behind Martin Truex Jr., who was set to secure a dominant victory, when a spin by Kyle Larson off the bumper of Bubba Wallace brought out the yellow flag and created the season's first overtime finish. Hamlin's pit crew proceeded to deliver for their driver on the final trip to pit road, getting Hamlin out in front of both Truex and Joey Logano and allowing him to prevail in the final two-lap run to the checkered flag.

Toyota Owners 400 unofficial results

  1. #11 - Denny Hamlin
  2. #22 - Joey Logano
  3. #5 - Kyle Larson
  4. #19 - Martin Truex Jr.
  5. #9 - Chase Elliott
  6. #20 - Christopher Bell
  7. #24 - William Byron
  8. #6 - Brad Keselowski
  9. #17 - Chris Buescher
  10. #45 - Tyler Reddick

Speaking to Fox Sports after the race, Hamlin effusively praised the performance of his pit crew, directly crediting their work on the final stop with getting him the win.

"This is a team win, for sure. This trophy needs to go to each one of these pit crew member's house. They just did an amazing job," Hamlin said. "They've been killing it all year ... Just such a great feeling when you know you can come in and have a pit crew like that."

The final restart

Coming to two laps to go, it had looked as though Hamlin was going to wind up third on the night, as the charges of both he and Logano towards the lead had stalled out, and Truex seemed set to seal the deal on a night where he led 228 laps. But just behind them, the race for fourth would end up completely changing the race itself.

Kyle Larson, who had fallen back with an ill-handling racecar, spun down the front straightaway off the bumper of Bubba Wallace, bringing out a caution to send the race to overtime. The ensuing round of pit stops would give Hamlin the lead over Truex for the final restart, pitting the two Joe Gibbs Racing teammates again one another in what turned into a controversial finish.

As the leader of the race, Hamlin was in control of the restart once he reached the first line of the restart zone at the exit of turn 4. However, both replay and Truex's assessment of the final restart suggested that Hamlin may have accelerated before the restart zone began -- giving Hamlin an advantage by the time he and Truex reached turn 1 and allowing Hamlin to run Truex up the racetrack and pull away.

After getting squeezed into the wall by Kyle Larson at the finish line in the race for third, Truex ran like a bull through a china shop on the cooldown lap, first dooring Larson down the frontstraightaway and almost wrecking himself in the process before ramming Hamlin in the bumper before he made his way to pit road.

"He jumped the start, and then just used me up in turn 1," Truex told Fox Sports. "Definitely sucks, but a good solid day and another car capable of winning. We'll just have to come back next week and try and get them again."

Generally, when NASCAR officials believe that something improper has happened on a restart, they will say in real-time that the restart is under review. In this situation, however, NASCAR ruled that the final restart was clean -- something that NASCAR senior vice president of competition Elton Sawyer maintained speaking to reporters in the garage area.

"We reviewed that, we looked at it," Sawyer said. "Obviously the 11 was the control vehicle. It was awful close, but we deemed it to be a good restart."

As for Larson -- who recovered from his spin to maintain track position for the final restart -- expressed some bewilderment with Truex's actions on the final half lap, while ultimately acknowledging he was likely more collateral damage than the direct target of Truex's wrath.

"The 22 got to his inside in [turns] 1 and 2, I got in behind the 22, and he just turned left across my nose and had me up on the apron off of 2," Larson told Fox Sports. "And then I don't know if he thought that I just piled it in there, but then he doorslammed me down the middle of the backstretch. I just figured in 3 and 4 I was gonna use him up a little bit.

"I think he was more mad at Denny, but I was the closest one to take his anger out on. I haven't seen a replay either, but I'm guessing the replay looks the way I kind of saw 1 and 2, and then he'll realize that and probably be alright. Martin's probably the most respected guy in the garage area, so I was surprised when he turned left on me down the backstretch and then again after the checkered.

"But it's all good. I hope he doesn't have any hard feelings at me, because I definitely don't towards him."

A wet start

The first 30 laps of Sunday night's race featured an interesting variable, as NASCAR was able to utilize its wet weather rules package after rain throughout the afternoon let up just before the green flag. The entire field started the race on treaded tires, leading to a wild initial 30 laps as drivers went all over the racetrack searching for grip and swapping positions while the track dried out.

Eventually, the track was declared dry by NASCAR officials, leading to the field being brought to pit road to put on their standard slicks that they use for the remainder of the race. Still, the wet weather package allowed the race to start with very little delay despite inclement weather, yet again demonstrating its upside after it was previously used in heat races for the NASCAR All-Star Race last May at North Wilkesboro.

The implementation of the wet weather tires was deemed a success by NASCAR's Elton Sawyer, who stressed the importance of being able to get the race started on time thanks to the rules package rather than having to wait out a rain delay as everyone at the racetrack -- plus the television audience -- would have had to endure in the past.

"The main thing is we were able to get the race started, get going. Our fans at home got to view the race as well as the fans here at the track," Sawyer said. "So goal accomplished."

Race results rundown

  • The incident that brought out the final caution ended up costing Bubba Wallace, as he would go from set for a top five finish to not even finishing inside the top 10. Wallace entered the pits for the final time in fourth, but finished 13th after his crew had a slow stop due to a miscue while changing left side tires. Wallace put the onus of responsibility for Larson's spin on himself, coming up to apologize to Larson on pit road after the race.
  • One of the best recoveries of the night belonged to Christopher Bell, who went from running third and potentially factoring into the finish to almost having his race ruined when he was caught speeding on the exit of pit road during green flag stops. Despite the penalty, Bell would get back on the lead lap and finish sixth.
  • Josh Berry had an outstanding drive in the early laps from 30th up into the top five, running as high as second during the race before just missing out on a top 10 with a season-best 11th. However, Berry's march to the front ended up going through the rear bumper of Daniel Suarez's car, spinning Suarez in turn 1 on lap 64. The two were seen discussing the contact on pit road after the race.
  • While Martin Truex Jr. was left angry at other drivers in the top five at the end of the race, the shoe had been on the other foot at the end of stage 2 when Truex elected to race Alex Bowman hard and pin him a lap down at stage's end instead of allowing Bowman to maintain his position on the lead lap. Bowman would get back on the lead lap anyway by virtue of the free pass, but ended up 17th and having his streak of consecutive top five finishes broken.
  • Thanks to a low attrition rate and just five cautions during the evening, all 36 cars that started Sunday's race were still running at the finish. Corey LaJoie was the one unfortunate left shotgun on the field, finishing three laps down in 36th.

Next race

More short track racing is on the docket next week, as the Cup Series heads to the timeless Martinsville Speedway for the Cook Out 400 next Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on Fox.

Updates
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Denny Hamlin gets the launch he needs at the restart, and that's what he needs to get clear of Truex and drive away to the checkered flag! Denny Hamlin wins at Richmond as Martin Truex Jr. sees red at Kyle Larson after the checkered flag.

1 - #11 - Denny Hamlin
2 - #22 - Joey Logano
3 - #5 - Kyle Larson
4 - #19 - Martin Truex Jr.
5 - #9 - Chase Elliott
6 - #20 - Christopher Bell
7 - #24 - William Byron
8 - #6 - Brad Keselowski
9 - #17 - Chris Buescher
10 - #45 - Tyler Reddick

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This will be the first overtime race in the Cup Series this season. Hamlin, Truex, Logano, Larson and Byron. Here we go!

 
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April 1, 2024, 2:47 AM
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Denny Hamlin's crew with the quick pit stop, and it's Denny Hamlin who gets off pit road with the lead over Truex and Logano! Another major turn of events in this one leading into a two-lap shootout.

 
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SPIN ON THE FRONTSTRAIGHTAWAY! Kyle Larson goes around racing for fourth with Bubba Wallace, the CAUTION IS OUT, and this race is going to overtime!

 
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Logano's advance stalled at about half a second and now he's lost two tenths to the race leader. Two laps to go for Martin Truex Jr.

 
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Joey Logano is gunning for Truex as he tries to end a 37-race winless drought. The lead is just about half a second with five laps to go!

 
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Truex passes the lapped cars of Chastain and Austin Dillon to create a bit of a buffer between himself and Logano. Logano passes Dillon and now passes Chastain. Eight to go as Truex now comes up on the lapped cars of Stenhouse, Grala, and Jones.

 
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Denny Hamlin's advance has stalled at Joey Logano. Hamlin has not been able to find a way around Logano, which has blunted his progress to about 1.4 seconds back of Truex and lapped traffic still to navigate.

Hamlin struggling to find a way around Logano is exactly what Truex wants to see coming up on 10 laps to go. But that's disregarding how much progress Logano is making -- In fact, he's starting to catch Truex.

 
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20 laps to go. Martin Truex Jr. is dealing with and struggling with heavy lapped traffic in front of him. That's allowing both Logano AND Hamlin to close in on him. The top three are now separated by only two seconds.

 
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Change for second as Joey Logano takes that spot from Kyle Larson who is now struggling with his racecar. Logano is 3.5 seconds back of Truex in first.

Meanwhile, Denny Hamlin has driven to fourth now and has 5.4 seconds to make up with 30 laps left to do it.

Make that third now for Hamlin. The gap is now 4.5 seconds and shrinking.

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