Hamlin strikes first in Chicago

Denny delivers
Denny delivers
Getty Images for NASCAR

In a late race restart, Denny Hamlin soared to the top of the leaderboard and headed to Victory Lane in Sunday's myAFibRisk.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway, the first race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Hamlin's Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Carl Edwards, earned himself the runner-up position as he, too, was strong in the race's final restart.

After leading for a total of 37 laps, Stewart-Haas Racing's Kurt Busch was unable to hold off the JGR drivers for the lead and finished third.

During a restart on Lap 135, Joey Logano (who finished sixth) bumped the No. 48 of Jimmie Johnson (who 11th) causing him to make contact with Kevin Harvick's No. 4. Harvick later spun into the wall, causing him to head to the garage with significant damage to his SHR Chevrolet.

Harvick returned to the race on Lap 196 and finished 42nd. He faces an uphill battle for the next two races (New Hampshire and Dover) in his pursuit of advancing to the Contender Round and defending his title

Here's how the rest of the Chase field finished: Ryan Newman (fourth), Matt Kenseth (fifth), Brad Keselowski (eighth), Kyle Busch (ninth), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (12th), Martin Truex Jr. (13th), Jeff Gordon (14th), Jamie McMurray (16th), Paul Menard (17th) and Clint Bowyer (19th).

Kyle Larson (seventh) and Aric Almirola (10th) were the only non-Chase drivers who finished in the top 10.

On-track action picks back up again for the Sylvania 300 at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday Sept. 27 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NBCSN/Live Extra, PRN, SiriusXM).

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

Finishing Position: 1st

What was going through your mind on the final restart with all the cars with fresh tires behind you?

“It was 50-50 – I was going to get in there and hope that everything worked out. I want to thank this FedEx Ground team. This is unbelievable. Our Camry was so fast today. I told them when they changed it – they changed it to FedEx Ground just for this race because we needed consistency and reliability and that’s what FedEx Ground is and that’s what we were today. Coming back from a lap down – we had a fast car. We were running under green over and over and over and I thought we would never get back on the lead lap. Thanks to all of our partners at JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) for building a fast race car. Everyone that helps support this. Can’t thank Sprint and the fans enough – this was a great race to start the Chase."

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]How was your team able to recover from the spin and get you the win?

“We were passing the eighth-place car and we started in the back on that first green flag run, before I crashed so I knew there couldn’t be a lot of cars on the lead lap. Luckily, that one caution came out that allowed us to get the wave around and get back on the lead lap. We had a fast car and that was the most important thing. We stretched out there at the end even with no tires. I’m proud of this effort. The pit crew did a phenomenal job again and now we’re looking forward to the next round."

How will you approach the next two races before the next round begins?

“It feels great and we’ll go have fun the next couple weeks, but the stress never ends of this Chase. You still have a long way to go."

What did you think about the move you made to take the lead on the final restart?

“It was ballsy, but I’d been stuck so many times three-wide in the middle. The front cars almost have a disadvantage to the back cars the way it all plays out. We got a great restart and I just held it wide open through (turns) one and two and it stuck. We were able to get in that clean air and take off."

Did you ever think you could be in victory lane after starting from the 29th position?

“I knew it was possible – we passed 10 cars before I went in there and spun out. This car was so fast today. Can’t say enough about this team, especially on the long runs where we were extremely fast. It’s great to have runs like this."

Did you feel you would have a shot at the win when Dave Rogers told you to stay out on the final caution?

“I thought that if we could stay out on the front row we would have a great shot. The second row with tires on the outside, I wasn’t sure about our shot. You just have to make a move and hope it sticks."

CARL EDWARDS, No. 19 Stanley Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

Finishing Position: 2nd

How would you describe the first race of the Chase?

“We fought back. We did a good job. Everybody at JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) is working together. This is cool, an awesome day for everybody — just unbelievable. Denny (Hamlin) hung on tough at the end. I thought I had him. Great race with Kurt (Busch) — that was fun. I don’t think we could be more aggressive there. I just couldn’t clear him. I thought I was going to get him. Thanks to Stanley – all these sponsors – ARRIS, TRD (Toyota Racing Development), Toyota, Sport Clips. I spent some time at the track this week that was great. I was having fun – this is great – it’s a good way to start."

Were you concerned early in the race with the speeding penalty?

“I was really concerned. Darian (Grubb, crew chief) did a great job on the box. Everybody stayed cool and had fast pit stops. I have to thank Sprint for putting on this show – this is going to be a good Chase. That was a pretty racy race track. The crew did a good job and I had a good time."

How important is it to start the Chase with a second-place finish?

“It’s good. I just can’t say enough about JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing), TRD (Toyota Racing Development) and everybody who puts all the work into this. I think I had some sort of engine happen at the beginning of the race, but that’s a Toyota for you, it got me home and the guys have been doing a great job. It’s a cool team effort. We’ve really rallied and we’re going to be tough."



# Driver Manufacturer Start Laps Led Status
1 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota 29 267 9 Running
2 19 Carl Edwards Toyota 14 267 6 Running
3 41 Kurt Busch Chevrolet 9 267 37 Running
4 31 Ryan Newman Chevrolet 6 267 0 Running
5 20 Matt Kenseth Toyota 12 267 1 Running
6 22 Joey Logano Ford 2 267 1 Running
7 42 Kyle Larson Chevrolet 18 267 2 Running
8 2 Brad Keselowski Ford 3 267 0 Running
9 18 Kyle Busch Toyota 7 267 121 Running
10 43 Aric Almirola Ford 20 267 0 Running
11 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 11 267 0 Running
12 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 19 267 0 Running
13 78 Martin Truex Jr Chevrolet 4 267 39 Running
14 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 10 267 41 Running
15 55 David Ragan Toyota 28 267 0 Running
16 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 13 266 0 Running
17 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet 16 266 0 Running
18 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr Ford 27 265 0 Running
19 15 Clint Bowyer Toyota 26 265 0 Running
20 13 Casey Mears Chevrolet 24 265 0 Running
21 16 Greg Biffle Ford 17 265 0 Running
22 33 Brian Scott Chevrolet 21 265 0 Running
23 51 Justin Allgaier Chevrolet 31 265 0 Running
24 5 Kasey Kahne Chevrolet 8 264 0 Running
25 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet 23 264 0 Running
26 10 Danica Patrick Chevrolet 25 264 0 Running
27 40 Landon Cassill Chevrolet 36 263 0 Running
28 6 Trevor Bayne Ford 30 263 0 Running
29 35 Cole Whitt Ford 33 263 0 Running
30 9 Sam Hornish Jr Ford 22 262 0 Running
31 34 Brett Moffitt Ford 38 262 0 Running
32 38 David Gilliland Ford 35 262 0 Running
33 32 Josh Wise Ford 40 261 0 Running
34 46 Michael Annett Chevrolet 37 261 0 Running
35 26 J.J. Yeley Toyota 34 261 0 Running
36 47 AJ Allmendinger Chevrolet 15 260 0 Running
37 7 Alex Bowman Chevrolet 32 259 0 Running
38 23 Jeb Burton Toyota 41 259 0 Running
39 83 Matt DiBenedetto Toyota 39 258 0 Running
40 98 Reed Sorenson Ford 42 258 0 Running
41 62 Timmy Hill Chevrolet 43 255 0 Running
42 4 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 1 209 10 Running
43 3 Austin Dillon Chevrolet 5 198 0 Running

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