Hamlin Scores Double-Overtime Win at Kansas, Seeded Third for Round of 8October 21, 2019
This would not be the one that got away. Denny Hamlin earned his fifth win of the season Sunday at Kansas Speedway, overcoming two overtime restarts and a hard-charging effort from Chase Elliott.
After starting 23rd, Hamlin appeared to be cruising to his first win of the 2019 Playoffs after winning Stage 2 of the race and then dominating Stage 3. But the caution flag flew for Ryan Blaney with just 14 laps to go in the race. Crew chief Chris Gabehart brought Hamlin to pit road under the yellow for two tires, while others in the top 10 took four.
Hamlin held the lead for the restart and the next six laps, when the caution came out again, this time for a multi-car accident that would send the race into overtime. Once again, Hamlin restarted in the lead. And, once again, a multi-car incident brought out a yellow flag, just as it appeared the FedEx Toyota was taking the white flag – and the win. But NASCAR ruled that Hamlin was short of the start-finish when the caution flag was displayed.
The field bunched up one more time for second attempt at a green-white-checkered finish, and this time Hamlin paced two solid laps, holding off runner-up Chase Elliott for the win.
“I knew track position was the biggest factor for us,” Hamlin said. “As long as we could keep our car out front, it was the most important thing beyond tires. Chris (Gabehart) made all the right calls on all those late cautions.”
The Victory Lane celebration featured a congratulatory phone call from FedEx CEO Fred Smith.
“Fred Smith and his whole team have been so great to support me and this race team for 14 years of my career and I could not be happier to get another win for this company and all the associates that work there,” Hamlin said.
While Hamlin had already earned enough points mid-race to clinch a spot in the Round of 8 in NASCAR’s Playoffs, the win made a statement as he heads into the next round seeded third. The first race in the Round of 8 is Sunday, October 27, at Martinsville Speedway.