For the fourth time in his NASCAR Cup Series career, Denny Hamlin was victorious at Richmond Raceway. The Chesterfield, Va. native captured the Toyota Owners 400 on Sunday (April 3), utilizing fresh tires in the closing laps to run down the leaders.
It’s Hamlin’s first victory of the season, his first top-10 finish after a rough start and also the first Cup win for Toyota with NASCAR’s new Next Gen chassis.
“Just great strategy there and just drove as hard as I could,” Hamlin told FOX after climbing victoriously out of his No. 11 Toyota. “Just so proud of this whole FedEx Camry team. Man, just never giving up. There was no doubt in my mind, ok maybe just a little, that they got this car right there at the end. Wow, just unbelievable.
“We needed a data point, a good run to balance ourselves for other tracks and I think we got it here.”
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) April 3, 2022
Harvick finished second, though his winless streak is now extended to 50 races. The 1-2 finish by drivers over 40 ended a 12-race streak of drivers under 30 winning a Cup Series event.
“Just really proud of everyone on our No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang for staying in there and having a great strategy,” Harvick said post-race. “It’s really the first clean day we’ve had all year. Cars have been fast. Had a shot there in the end; I wanted to be close enough at the white [flag] to have a swipe at it. Lapped cars there got in the way and I lost a little bit of ground. Still, a great day for us and hopefully some momentum to put us in a positive direction.”
Byron, Truex and Kyle Larson rounded out the top-five finishers. Truex won stage two and appeared to have an advantage for the win as he chased Byron down. However, lapped traffic and Hamlin’s fresher tires ultimately cost Truex the victory.
Martin Truex was just left up to the whims of lapped traffic and he couldn't push any harder on his strategy. pic.twitter.com/eJmf8Rpj2W
— Matt Weaver (@MattWeaverRA) April 3, 2022
Byron finished third despite completing the race on the oldest tires, followed by Truex and Kyle Larson. Christopher Bell, stage one winner Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, Kyle Busch and Austin Dillon rounded out the top 10.
Busch recovered to finish ninth after he was black-flagged by NASCAR during the final stage for unapproved tape on his grille. At the time of his penalty, Busch was running sixth.
Polesitter Blaney dominated the first stage. The only yellow flag in it came for Kurt Busch, who stalled his No. 45 23XI Racing Toyota on track. Busch returned to the race to finish 35th.
Truex won a caution-free second stage as the field split into two different pit strategies.
There were a few cautions in the final stage, but the varying pit strategies brought the top-four finishers all within one second of each other in the closing laps.
The Cup Series next heads to fellow Virginia short track Martinsville Speedway. Martinsville will host the Blue Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400 on Saturday, April 9 at 7:30 p.m. ET with TV coverage provided by FOX Sports 1.
About the author
Mark Kristl joined Frontstretch at the beginning of the 2019 NASCAR season. He is the site's ARCA Menards Series editor. Kristl is also an Eagle Scout and a proud University of Dayton alum.
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