Denny Hamlin takes South Point 400 for second win in 2021
9/26/2021 11:59:55 PM EST
For the first 26 weeks of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season, a big question was whether Denny Hamlin would win a race this season.
That question has been replaced by two others. How many races will the Joe Gibbs Racing driver win this year? And is he now the favorite to win his first championship?
Hamlin got his second victory of 2021 on Sunday night when he won the South Point 400 NASCAR Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
"Vegas. It feels so good to win in Vegas," said Hamlin, whose average finish at the track prior to Sunday was 12.9.
The victory, which comes three weeks after he got his first win -- at Darlington -- gives Hamlin an automatic berth in the Playoffs' Round of 8, which begins in three weeks at Texas Motor Speedway.
"I'm so happy, so happy not to have to worry about the next two weeks," Hamlin said. "I'm a professional so I'm going to work just as hard each and every week to win."
Hamlin, who won seven times in 2020, led a race-best 137 laps. It was his first career victory at the 1.5-mile Las Vegas oval.
Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports finished second, .442 seconds behind Hamlin.
"We were really close but not quite close enough," said Elliott, which saw him give Hamlin something to think about over the final five laps. "I think he did a good job controlling the gap to me. He was having a hard time with the 21 (Matt DiBenedetto) and I think he was doing a good job of giving himself enough room for him to be able to work the lanes. But super close."
Hamlin's teammates Kyle Busch and Martin Truex, Jr., finished third and fourth.
"We got all we could," said Busch, driving in his hometown. "I felt like during the day time we were a little bit better than the 11 (Hamlin)."
Finishing fifth was Ryan Blaney of Team Penske.
Among other Playoffs drivers, Brad Keselowski was seventh, Kevin Harvick was ninth and Kyle Larson, who led 96 laps, was 10th.
Having tough Sundays among Playoffs drivers were Christopher Bell of the Gibbs team and Hendrick drivers William Byron and Alex Bowman. Bell suffered front end damage during an early pit stop while Byron and Bowman both suffered cut tires late in the race. All three finished off the lead lap.
The second of three races in the Round of 12 will be held at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. The round concludes in two weeks with a race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway infield road course.
Playoffs drivers Truex and Byron were forced to the rear of the field for the start after failing pre-race inspections. By Lap 51, both had driven back into the top 10.
Also sent to the rear for inspection failures were non-Playoffs drivers Aric Almirola and JJ Yeley.
-- Field Level Media
Tue, 19 Oct 2021 18:46:10 EST Giants place LT Andrew Thomas (ankle) on IR
Tue, 19 Oct 2021 16:58:44 EST Colts waive backup QB Jacob Eason
Tue, 19 Oct 2021 17:21:44 EST Broncos' Teddy Bridgewater (foot) expected to play vs. Browns
Tue, 19 Oct 2021 14:45:18 EST Texans release DE Whitney Mercilus
Tue, 19 Oct 2021 13:49:47 EST Ravens OT Ronnie Stanley needs season-ending surgery
Tue, 19 Oct 2021 17:18:07 EST Browns QB Baker Mayfield determined to play despite injury
Tue, 19 Oct 2021 12:33:56 EST Report: Bills TE Dawson Knox broke hand against Titans
Tue, 19 Oct 2021 11:31:31 EST Report: Titans rookie CB Caleb Farley (ACL) out for season
Tue, 19 Oct 2021 10:57:21 EST Jaguars cut veteran K Josh Lambo
Tue, 19 Oct 2021 21:37:04 EST Eighth-inning rally lifts Dodgers to Game 3 win over Braves
Tue, 19 Oct 2021 14:29:17 EST Braves' new world? Atlanta enters NLCS Game 3 as World Series favorite
Tue, 19 Oct 2021 12:46:28 EST Yankees’ DJ Lemahieu has surgery to repair sports hernia
Tue, 19 Oct 2021 09:53:38 EST Yankees bring back manager Aaron Boone on a new contract
Tue, 19 Oct 2021 02:18:37 EST Astros search for answers to Red Sox's ALCS onslaught
Tue, 19 Oct 2021 00:40:52 EST Red Sox slam Astros again, grab 2-1 ALCS lead
Mon, 18 Oct 2021 20:21:31 EST Braves' 2-0 lead vs. Dodgers is hardly comfortable
Mon, 18 Oct 2021 19:21:52 EST Shoulder surgery not expected for Padres' Fernando Tatis Jr.
Mon, 18 Oct 2021 15:35:50 EST Mets' GM search goes on without Billy Beane, David Stearns
Mon, 18 Oct 2021 13:12:00 EST More fireworks expected as Astros visit Red Sox for Game 3
Tue, 19 Oct 2021 21:01:05 EST Report: Jabari Parker returns to Celtics after clearing waivers
Tue, 19 Oct 2021 21:22:34 EST Jazz, Thunder open season heading in opposite directions
Tue, 19 Oct 2021 20:46:23 EST Rockets, Timberwolves hope to turn page after poor years
Tue, 19 Oct 2021 20:22:52 EST Rebuilding Magic, Spurs tip off season taking the long view
Tue, 19 Oct 2021 19:56:14 EST Evan Mobley to debut when Cavs face up-and-coming Grizzlies
Tue, 19 Oct 2021 18:55:32 EST No Ben Simmons, no Zion Williamson as Sixers and Pelicans meet
Tue, 19 Oct 2021 17:54:21 EST Serge Ibaka (back) to miss Clippers' opener on Thursday
Tue, 19 Oct 2021 15:31:58 EST Ime Udoka, Celtics begin new era against Knicks
Tue, 19 Oct 2021 15:48:00 EST Raptors start post-Kyle Lowry era vs. revamped Wizards
Tue, 19 Oct 2021 15:14:28 EST Pistons hope to have Cade Cunningham when they run with Bulls
Tue, 19 Oct 2021 21:31:19 EST Golden Knights captain Mark Stone avoids surgery
Tue, 19 Oct 2021 18:10:21 EST Hall of Famer Mike Bossy reveals lung cancer battle
Tue, 19 Oct 2021 16:53:38 EST Devils activate Damon Severson, put Mackenzie Blackwood on IR
Tue, 19 Oct 2021 15:24:00 EST Avs' Nathan MacKinnon out of COVID protocol, to face Caps
Tue, 19 Oct 2021 20:36:22 EST Blues' Pavel Buchnevich suspended 2 games for headbutt
Tue, 19 Oct 2021 13:25:35 EST Flyers hope to have Rasmus Ristolainen back against Bruins
Tue, 19 Oct 2021 01:58:52 EST Oilers rolling on both ends of ice entering matchup with Ducks
Tue, 19 Oct 2021 01:27:59 EST NHL roundup: 5-goal period carries Blues past Coyotes
Tue, 19 Oct 2021 01:33:44 EST Kraken conclude back-to-back against rested Devils
Tue, 19 Oct 2021 01:15:03 EST Jordan Kyrou, Klim Kostin put on show as Blues outscore Coyotes