In what looked like the possible end of any championship dreams for Denny Hamlin going into the Bluegreen Vacations 500, Hamlin dominated the competition Sunday afternoon at ISM Raceway and locked in his spot in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4.
“I can’t believe it,” Hamlin said following his sixth victory in 2019, his second at ISM Raceway and the 27th of his career. “This race team worked so hard this whole year. They deserve to be there. I put them in a bad hole last week.
“I told them today in the meeting, I said ‘I’m going to give everything I’ve got to make up for the mistake I made last week.’ That’s all I got.”
Hamlin led a race-high 143 laps and built a strong lead until John Hunter Nemechek hit the wall in Turn 1 to bring out the fifth and final caution and brought the cars together for a restart with three laps remaining. After struggling with restarts for the entirety of the race, Hamlin punched his steering wheel in disdain.
Under caution, Hamlin’s team took two tires, as did the team for Ryan Blaney, and the two lined up side-by-side for what would be the final restart of the race, and Hamlin’s best. After Hamlin secured the lead, his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch made a move on Blaney to take second and put a buffer between the two.
Busch also locked in his spot in the Championship 4 with his second-place finish. They’ll be joined by Kevin Harvick and Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr as the four battle it out at Homestead-Miami Speedway next Sunday for the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship.
NASCAR will return to ISM Raceway March 6-8, 2020. Tickets are on-sale now for the NASCAR Cup Series FanShield 500 Speed Fest and are available at ISMRaceway.com, by calling 866-408- RACE (7223), or by visiting the ISM Raceway ticket office during regular business hours.