Saturday, May 28, 2016

Hamlin Wins at Charlotte, Xfinity Regulars Finish Up Front

Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images
Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway was good to Denny Hamlin as well as to various Xfinity Series regulars, with the former taking home the trophy and putting the No. 18 Hisense Toyota in Victory Lane. 

With a tire violation miring him behind competitors, Hamlin charged through the field and put himself in position as the laps dwindled down. Kyle Larson and Joey Logano battled for the lead over the final dozen laps, but Erik Jones brought out a caution just before Larson took the white flag, putting the race into overtime.

Credit: Charlotte Bray/Skirts and Scuffs
Hamlin, who took tires under the caution, capitalized on the fresh rubber and kept moving forward, passing Logano and Larson who both had stayed out. Larson was on Hamlin’s bumper until the car got away from him; the No. 42 hit the wall. The No. 18 took the checkered flag, and Larson came up short once again. 

Hamlin said after the win, “It was a second opportunity obviously. I was hoping for that caution there at the end. We got it, and we were able to get four tires on this Hisense Camry and took off. A little closer than what I thought – I mean, we were just really tight those last couple laps, but what a great day. It’s the Hisense 300 here at Charlotte – couldn’t be prouder of that whole group being here with Joe Gibbs Racing and me and we’ve been in victory lane with them a bunch.”

However, Hamlin’s win wasn’t the biggest takeaway from the Hisense 300. Though Austin Dillon and Joey Logano took second and third, Xfinity Series drivers had strong showings throughout the day, and the finishing order proves it. JR Motorsports drivers Cole Custer and Justin Allgaier finished fourth and fifth respectively, continuing their organization’s strong season with the top finishes by Xfinity Series regulars. 

Brandon Jones brought his Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet home in seventh while his RCR teammate Ty Dillon captured eighth place.

The younger Dillon persevered through a tight set-up early on, saying, “We were super tight for whatever reason, so we weren't able to make the moves we needed to start off. Luckily, we had a string of cautions in a row to give us a few opportunities to fix the car. Nick [Harrison, crew chief] took a big swing at the adjustments and they worked out well for us.”

He added, “I was able to race inside the top 10 for a majority of the day. Our car was fast, but I felt like we could have been a little better. The racing at the end for the checkered flag in overtime was fun. We'll take this finish and move on to Pocono next weekend.”

Jones also battled car issues. “I was having problems every time I came into the pit stall. The car felt like it was going to die and I could watch the RPMs fall from the fuel getting out of the catch there. It was a long race. Pretty hot out all day, really slick and greasy. We were just fighting tight conditions all day, and crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. made great calls. We made some pretty big swings at it and got it where we needed to be there at the end to try and make a run at this. All in all, I think a seventh-place finish with all that happened with the pit stops there was good.”

The NASCAR Xfinity Series will be back in action next Saturday at Pocono Raceway, where the series will race for the first time.

Complete unofficial results:

Finish Car No.     Driver
1 18    Denny Hamlin
2 2    Austin Dillon
3 22    Joey Logano
4 88    Cole Custer
5 7    Justin Allgaier
6 42    Kyle Larson
7 33    Brandon Jones
8 3    Ty Dillon
9 48    Brennan Poole
10 62    Brendan Gaughan
11 43    Jeb Burton
12 19    Daniel Suarez
13 39    Ryan Sieg
14 11    Blake Koch
15 0    Garrett Smithley
16 12    Ryan Blaney
17 4    Ross Chastain
18 24    Drew Herring
19 16    Ryan Reed
20 51    Jeremy Clements
21 28    Dakoda Armstrong
22 1    Ryan Preece
23 44    J.J. Yeley
24 97    Harrison Rhodes
25 78    B.J. McLeod
26 90    Martin Roy
27 6    Darrell Wallace, Jr.
28 1    Elliott Sadler
29 21    Spencer Gallagher
30 13    Carl Long
31 20    Erik Jones
32 70    Derrike Cope
33 25    Timmy Hill
34 14    Jeff Green
35 74    Mike Harmon
36 52    Joey Gase
37 7    Ray Black, Jr.
38 15    Cody Ware
39 93    Josh Wise
40 10    Matt DiBenedetto

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