Denny Hamlin wins in Dover for his third NASCAR Cup Series win of the year

Denny Hamlin (11) beats Kyle Larson (5) to the finish line to win Sunday’s Wurth 400 at Dover Motor Speedway. It was Hamlin’s third NASCAR Cup Series win of the season. Photo by David Barks.

Hamlin, Larson stage two-man battle for victory at The Monster Mile

DOVER, Del – They saved the best for last.

Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson staged a mighty battle throughout the entire third stage of Sunday’s Würth 400 NASCAR Cup Race at Dover Motor Speedway – The Monster Mile.

Hamlin tamed The Monster, defeated Cup Series points leader Larson by 0.256 seconds, and won his third points race, and fourth overall, of the 2024 season.

Denny Hamlin celebrates in Victory Lane after winning Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Race at Dover Motor Speedway. Photo by David Barks.

It was also Hamlin’s 54th career victory, tying him with Hall of Famer Lee Petty for 12th on the all-time list, and bringing him to within one win of Rusty Wallace.

Hamlin is this season’s king of the short tracks, having won the non-points, season-opening All-Star race –  The Clash at the Coliseum (a quarter mile track) – and Cup Series points races at Bristol (half-mile), Richmond (three-quarter mile), and now Dover (one mile).

Earlier in the week, he predicted this win on his podcast.

“You’d better win, if you’re going to open your mouth, that’s for sure,” said Hamlin.

Defending Dover champion Martin Truex Jr. finished third, followed by pole-sitter Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, Noah Gragson, Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, Daniel Hemric, and Ty Gibbs.

The race had 12 lead changes among nine drivers, with several of them holding onto first place for long stretches.

Pole sitter Kyle Busch (8) leads Chase Elliott (9) early in Sunday’s Wurth 400 at Dover Motor Speedway. Photo by David Barks.

Hamlin led 136 of the 400 laps, including the final 72.

Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Truex led 69 laps, winning Stage 1.

Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney was up front for 47 laps.

Hendrick Motorsports’ teammates Larson and  William Byron led 39 and 36 laps, respectively with Larson beating teammate Bowman and Hamlin to win Stage 2.

Kyle Busch was up front for 34 laps, and Corey LaJoie spent 33 laps in first place.

Denny Hamlin hoists the Monster Miles trophy after winning Sunday’s NASCAR Cup race in Delaware. Photo by David Barks.

But it was the final stage that provided all the drama – an epic battle between Hamlin and Larson over the final 142 laps.

Larson took the lead with 31 laps left in Stage 2, driving to the stage win.

Hamlin won the race off pit road during the stage break with Larson in hot pursuit.

Both moved back a bit during a green flag pit cycle but a crash between Josh Berry and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. brought out the race’s fifth caution.

Hamlin beat Larson off pit road when everyone stopped for tires and fuel, then, although Larson closed to within two car lengths, held Larson off over the final 72 laps to tie Byron for the most wins this season.

“I think the key moment, really was Kyle did an excellent job executing during the green flag pit cycle and then we were able to get the lead there on that restart, then got the caution that allowed us to control the restart,” said Hamlin. “That was really the key moment for us and certainly feels good winning here at Dover.”

Martin Truex Jr. finishes third in Sunday’s Wurth 400 at The Monster Mile. Photo by David Barks.

“I knew when I got within three car lengths, he was going to start moving around. I couldn’t really do anything. I was trying all sorts of different angles and speeds, all that. Nothing could generate enough speed to get close enough I guess, to do anything. That was a bummer,” said Larson. “A great day for our Chevy team. Started 21st, drove up to sixth in the first stage or fifth (it was fifth). Got a stage win. Another stage win sounds good. Good points day. We would have loved to get a win.”

Truex, Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, had the early advantage until a slow pit stop cost him track position. He managed to rebound for a third-place finish. 

“Feel like we let one get away today,” said Truex. “Had a really strong Bass Pro Camry. You can’t lose control of these races mid-stage like that. The track changes and you get behind. Man, just stinks. Overall, a good day, just keep working on it.”

Jimmie Johnson races during Sunday’s Cup Race at Dover Motor Speedway. Johnson finished 28th in his third start of the season. Photo by David Barks.

At the back of the field, Corey Heim finished 25th in his NASCAR Cup Series debut.

The 21-year-old filled in for the injured Erik Jones in the Legacy Motor Club No. 43 Toyota.

Legacy team co-owner, seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, finished 28th in his third start of the season.

NASCAR is off to Kansas Speedway next week to race the Advent Health 400.

Hamlin, the defending champion, would not promise to make it two in a row.

“I’m not going to call my shot just yet (smiling). I need to soak this victory up first,” said Hamlin. “I mean, I’m optimistic. I’ve said it a million times: every seven days I can win. That is so hard to come by. There’s probably legit four, maybe five people that can do that just because of the team they’re with, they’re good enough, they’re good at all types of tracks. We’re one of those.”

NASCAR Cup Series Race – Würth 400

Dover Motor Speedway

Dover, Delaware

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Statistics provided by NASCAR

(Started 6)  Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 400 laps completed.

(21)  Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 400.

(15)  Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 400.

(1)  Kyle Busch, Chevrolet, 400.

(29)  Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 400.

(5)  Noah Gragson, Ford, 400.

(2)  Ryan Blaney, Ford, 400.

(9)  Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 400.

(14)  Daniel Hemric, Chevrolet, 400.

(19)  Ty Gibbs, Toyota, 400.

(4)  Tyler Reddick, Toyota, 400.

(22)  Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 400.

(10)  AJ Allmendinger(i), Chevrolet, 400.

(12)  Josh Berry #, Ford, 400.

(11)  Austin Cindric, Ford, 400.

(13)  Joey Logano, Ford, 400.

(18)  Chris Buescher, Ford, 400.

(31)  Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 399.

(7)  Chase Briscoe, Ford, 399.

(34)  John Hunter Nemechek, Toyota, 398.

(25)  Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 398.

(20)  Carson Hocevar #, Chevrolet, 397.

(36)  Justin Haley, Ford, 397.

(37)  Zane Smith #, Chevrolet, 397.

(32)  Corey Heim(i), Toyota, 397.

(26)  Harrison Burton, Ford, 397.

(23)  Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 396.

(27)  Jimmie Johnson, Toyota, 395.

(35)  Kaz Grala #, Ford, 394.

(24)  Brad Keselowski, Ford, 383.

(30)  Todd Gilliland, Ford, 379.

(16)  Bubba Wallace, Toyota, Accident, 329.

(3)  William Byron, Chevrolet, Accident, 329.

(33)  Christopher Bell, Toyota, Accident, 328.

(17)  Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, Accident, 320.

(8)  Michael McDowell, Ford, Hub, 285.

(28)  Ryan Preece, Ford, Fire, 66.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  119.433 mph.

Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 20 Mins, 57 Secs.

Margin of Victory:  .256 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  5 for 42 laps.

Lead Changes:  12 among 9 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   K. Busch 1-33;R. Blaney 34-78;W. Byron 79-114;M. Truex Jr. 115-183;R. Blaney 184-185;C. LaJoie 186-218;K. Larson 219-253;D. Hamlin 254-317;K. Busch 318;B. Wallace 319;D. Hemric 320-324;K. Larson 325-328;D. Hamlin 329-400.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Denny Hamlin 2 times for 136 laps; Martin Truex Jr. 1 time for 69 laps; Ryan Blaney 2 times for 47 laps; Kyle Larson 2 times for 39 laps; William Byron 1 time for 36 laps; Kyle Busch 2 times for 34 laps; Corey LaJoie 1 time for 33 laps; Daniel Hemric 1 time for 5 laps; Bubba Wallace 1 time for 1 lap.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 19,24,45,12,5,11,8,48,9,47

Stage #2 Top Ten: 5,48,11,19,9,8,45,12,47,23

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