Hometown Son Denny Hamlin wins the Toyota Owners 400

Carol D'Agostino for Skirts and Scuffs

The Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond began with damp conditions, with drivers starting the race on wet weather tires. Once the wet weather tires were swapped out for slicks and the laps started to click by, it appeared as though the race would then unfold as a pit strategy race.

But when the checkered flag flew three hours and fourteen minutes later, it played out like a good old-fashioned short track race, with a dramatic two-lap shootout and more than a few hurt feelings. When the smoke cleared it was Chesterfield, VA native Denny Hamlin in Victory Lane for his fifth win at Richmond Raceway. It was his second win this season and the 53rd of his career. The finish was the first overtime finish this season for the NASCAR Cup Series.

Joey Logano, Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr., and Chase Elliott rounded out the top five.

Hamlin credited his pit crew for the win. “This is a team win for sure. This trophy needs to go to each one of these pit crew members. They just did an amazing job. They've been killing it all year,” Hamlin said.

Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Larson were class of the field all evening with Truex Jr. leading the most laps with 228 and Larson leading 144.

In the closing laps, it appeared as though the race was in the hands of Martin Truex Jr. for the win, until the caution flag flew at Lap 400 when the No. 5 car of Kyle Larson spun after an incident with the No. 23 car of Bubba Wallace.

All lead lap cars then came in for four tire stops. Martin Truex Jr. had a slow pit stop. At the restart, Hamlin cleared Truex Jr. for the win. Kyle Larson and Martin Truex Jr. made contact after the finish. Truex Jr. then bumped the back of Hamlin, apparently disgruntled about how Denny raced him on the final restart.

“Yeah, we were in a great spot. Had a great Auto Owners Camry all night long. The guys did a really good job. We got beat out of the pits,” Truex Jr. said. He (Hamlin) jumped the start, then just used me up in turn one. It definitely sucks, but it was a good, solid day. We had another car capable of winning. So we just have to come back next week, and try to get them again,” Truex Jr. added. 

Ironically, the NASCAR Cup series will be racing at another iconic short track next Sunday for the Cook Out 400 at Martinsville Speedway, also in Virginia. We just might get to see the same drivers at race’s end. Kyle Larson won last year’s April race, with Truex Jr. finishing one spot ahead of Denny Hamlin in third.
Martin Truex Jr., remains the points leader after Richmond with a 14-point advantage over second-place Kyle Larson. 
Hometown Son Denny Hamlin wins the Toyota Owners 400 Hometown Son Denny Hamlin wins the Toyota Owners 400 Reviewed by Carol D'Agostino on Monday, April 01, 2024 Rating: 5