Denny Hamlin runs down William Byron to win the 67th Annual Toyota Owners 400

PHOTO: Carol D'Agostino for

The big question going into the Toyota Owners 400 was whether this would be the race where we’d finally see a breakthrough for the Joe Gibbs Racing team, breaking their 12 race winless streak. 

Despite JGR’s slow season start, it sounded like a good bet since Joe Gibbs Racing led the Cup Series in victories at Richmond Raceway with 17 wins, including 10 victories with active drivers of Kyle Busch with five wins, Denny Hamlin with three wins, and Martin Truex Jr. with two wins.

Pole sitter Ryan Blaney wasn’t going to make it easy though. Blaney won Stage One and led 129 laps, the 10th time that Blaney has led more than 100 laps in a race. The race also debuted the much-lauded JGR choreographed pit stop. In Stage Two a green flag pit stop for the No. 18 team of Kyle Busch made NASCAR history with a 9.19 second stop making it the fastest four-tire stop ever.

Ultimately the race was dominated by long green runs and tire and pit strategy. At Lap 259 William Byron took the lead by staying out on old tires, and it looked like the No. 24 was going to close the deal, but with four laps to go the No. 11 car of Denny Hamlin delivered, just like his lead sponsor FedEx.

The win is Hamlin’s his 47th victory in 585 Cup Series races, and his first victory and first Top 10 finish in 2022. The race win brings Hamlin’s record at Richmond to four wins and 20 Top 10s in 31 races here.

Hamlin chalked it up to strategy and plain old hard racing. “I just drove as hard as I could. I’m just so proud of this whole FedEx Camry team. We just never gave up. There was no doubt in my mind, maybe just a little, but they got this car right there towards the end. Wow, unbelievable,” said an animated Denny Hamlin in Victory Lane.

William Byron finished in third place after being overtaken by Kevin Harvick in the closing laps. It was Harvick’s 28th Top 10 finish in 42 races at Richmond Raceway and his third Top 10 finish in 2022. Byron led the second most laps in the race with 122. Rounding out the Top 5 in the Toyota Owners 400 are Martin Truex Jr. in fourth and Kyle Larson in fifth.

Going into Martinsville Speedway Ryan Blaney leads the driver’s standings by 0 points over Chase Elliott. Mathematically they are both tied at 241 points, but Blaney’s three stage wins puts him ahead of Elliott. The Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400 at Martinsville will be the season’s first Saturday night race starting at 7:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

PHOTO: Carol D'Agostino for

Denny Hamlin runs down William Byron to win the 67th Annual Toyota Owners 400 Denny Hamlin runs down William Byron to win the 67th Annual Toyota Owners 400 Reviewed by Carol D'Agostino on Sunday, April 03, 2022 Rating: 5