Denny Hamlin wins in Richmond, the grid for the Chase is set
Denny Hamlin is the winner of the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway, his home track. It was the last race of the regular season of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The Chase for the Cup will start at Chicagoland Speedway on next Sunday, with 16 drivers running for the 2016 Sprint Cup champion title.
The race at 0.75-mile Richmond’s track started with 12 drivers already secured the spots in the Chase. The battle for remaining four place was wild, with record 16 cautions during the 300-mile race and overtime finish, which brought Hamlin his third season’s win and 29th Cup win in a career.
At the end, Jamie McMurray locked up a spot in the Chase with a seventh-place finish, and Austin Dillon did likewise with a 13th-place run. There will be two rookies on the Chase grid – Chase Elliott and Chris Buescher – which was the first time that two rookies have been included in the Chase field, and the first time any rookie has made the Chase since Hamlin in 2006. Buescher finished 24th at Richmond, entering the Chase after his main rival David Ragan was eliminated in a eight-car accident on Lap 363. Ryan Newman was also eliminated in that wreck, together with his hopes of winning the race and entering the Chase.
The last caution of the day followed on Lap 399, when Regan Smith slammed the outside wall. After 407 laps, Hamlin crossed the finish line by 0.609 seconds ahead of Kyle Larson. Hamlin started from the pole and he led 189 laps in total. Martin Truex Jr. finished third, followed by Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick. Kasey Kahne, who needed a victory to advance to the Chase, ran sixth and will miss the Chase. Jamie McMurray, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch and Joey Logano completed the top 10.
The drivers who entered the Round 16 of the Chase are: Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, Martin Truex Jr, Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano, Kyle Larson, Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch, Chris Buescher, Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon and Jamie McMurray.
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