Denny Hamlin

Denny Hamlin wins the Southern 500

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Photo by: Matt Sullivan

Denny Hamlin battled through some adversity Sunday night, but that didn’t hinder the Joe Gibbs Racing driver from contending for the win or pulling into Victory Lane.

The “Flying 11” did exactly that after Hamlin made a mistake with 44 laps remaining in the Bojangles’ Southern 500. Hamlin missed the entrance to pit road and was forced to come back around for his final pit stop of the night, exiting in the 14th position.

Hamlin drove through traffic while cutting into Martin Truex Jr’s lead, and regained on Lap 365 when Truex cut a tire.

“That’s as hard as I can drive,” Hamlin said, “What can I say–it’s the flying 11. It means everything to me. I mean, as far as I’m concerned, this is a throwback to my history – this is for Ray Hendrick, Bugs Hairfield, Wayne Patterson, Eddie Johnson, the short track guys that I grew up watching.”

Hamlin swept the weekend at Darlington Raceway just as he did seven years ago, when he last won the prestigious event.

“This one’s sweeter,” he acknowledged, “going through the adversity we did.”

Truex, who finished eighth despite his late trouble, clinched the regular season Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship after leading 34 laps and winning both Stage 1 and Stage 2 of the event.

“It was definitely a bittersweet night for us, to come up just two laps short there, blow a tire at the end after having no issues with tires all night and having such a good race car,” Truex said. “I don’t know if that last run was the longest one we made all night. I’m not really sure to be honest. I was kind of out there caught up driving my guts out at the end trying to hang on.”

Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Austin Dillon, and Erik Jones rounded out the top-5, while Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, Truex, Kevin Harvick, and Jamie McMurray finished inside the top-10.

Only one race remains for someone to make their way into the playoffs with a win. Chase Elliott, Kensth, and McMurray remain on the bubble, and Clint Bowyer is on the outside looking in.

A win is now Bowyer’s only chance. He finished last after suffering an engine failure on Lap 18.

The MENCS head to Richmond Raceway on Saturday, September 9th for the last race before the start of the 2017 playoff season. Hamlin is the defending race winner. Can he win for the second week in a row?

Find out Saturday, September 9th at 7:30 p.m ET on NBC Sports Network.

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Denny Hamlin earns New Hampshire victory

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Photo by: Sean Gardner

Denny Hamlin held off a charging Kyle Larson in the closing laps of the Overton’s 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway to earn his first victory of the season.

Hamlin led 54 laps toward his first win since last September at Richmond Raceway. Hamlin regained the lead on Lap 267 after passing Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth.

“It’s a great feeling,” Hamlin said in Victory Lane. “I know we’ve been getting better and better as the year goes on, but definitely needed a win for the organization and for myself and just kind of get some momentum going with the playoffs coming up, so we’ve got to get going. Really, this is awesome.”

Hamlin snapped a winless streak of 28 races in a backup car after spinning in Friday’s first practice.

Larson finished second for the seventh time this season after having to start in the 39th position after his pole winning time was disallowed by NASCAR for having unapproved parts on the No. 42 Target Chevrolet.

That didn’t slow Larson down from making up ground. He charged to the front of the field and finished .509-seconds behind Hamlin.

“Finished second, but another hard fought race,” Larson said. “You know, this is the third time we’ve had to start last and drove up to second. I wish we could have been a spot better again, but really proud of my team and proud of the cars that they’re bringing for me to drive each and every week.”

Stage 1 winner Martin Truex Jr. finished third after leading a race-high of 137 laps, followed by Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick.

Kyle Busch recovered from two pit road speeding penalties to finish in the 12th position. Busch 95 laps and secured the Stage 2 win.

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series head to Indianapolis, Indiana for the 24th running of the Brickyard 400 on Sunday, July 23, 2017 at 2:30 p.m ET on NBC.

Denny Hamlin wins at Watkins Glen 

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Cheez-It 355

Photo by: Chris Trotman

Denny Hamlin held onto his lead in the closing laps of the Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen International to grab the first road course victory of his career.

Martin Truex Jr was charging to battle with Hamlin for the lead until Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski tapped him and sent him spinning in the final lap. Keselowski finished third while Truex survived for a top-10.

The race was packed with cautions and included two red flags during the 90 lap event on Sunday.

A multi-car wreck involving Jimmie Johnson, Austin Dillion, Greg Biffle, and Ricky Stenhouse promoted a red flag after Stenhouse lost control of his No. 17 Ford on Lap 53.

The second and final red flag came in the closing laps after last week’s winner Chris Buescher, Kevin Harvick, Danica Patrick, and David Ragan made contact on a restart.

Hamlin, who scored his second victory of 2016, shared that he battled back spams throughout the day.

“I really doubted getting into the race car today,” Hamlin said “But I’m really proud of this FedEx Freight Toyota Team.”

Hamlin was all smiles in victory lane despite having to walk to celebrate his win. Hamlin blew the tires off his car in a celebratory post-race burnout.

“This means a lot.” Hamlin said.