Hamlin outduels Larson, Logano to win at Charlotte
Concord, N.C. — It looked for a moment as if Kyle Larson would get his revenge on Joey Logano for beating him out last weekend to win the Sprint Cup All-Star race.
But then Denny Hamlin — aided by a timely caution flag — powered past.
Hamlin passed Larson and Logano in overtime to win the Xfinity Series race Saturday on a hot and slick racetrack at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
“It was a second opportunity. I was hoping for that caution and we got it,” Hamlin said.
Larson appeared to have victory in his sights after passing Logano with six laps remaining to take the lead. But Erik Jones had a tire go down with less than two laps to go, bringing out the yellow flag and forcing a two-lap overtime situation, prompting Larson’s crew chief Mike Shiplett to throw up his hands in utter frustration.
“I’m disappointed — but I’m used to it by now,” Larson said.
Larson and Logano, who were running 1-2, elected to stay on the track while Hamlin pitted for four tires.
The strategy proved correct for Hamlin.
Hamlin, who was sixth on the restart, first passed Larson, who got loose and hit the wall, and then Logano to win going away on fresh tires. Logano and Larson had run 40 laps on old tires and simply couldn’t compete.
It was an impressive comeback for Hamlin, who was penalized earlier in the race for an uncontrolled tire and dropped from fourth to 13th. Hamlin didn’t seem bothered by the setback, calmly telling his spotter “cool” on the radio when informed of the penalty.
Logano felt like he had enough to hold off Hamlin, but didn’t.
“I thought if I can clear him I had a shot,” Logano said. “But what a fun race. It was really exciting at the end.”
Austin Dillon, who won both Xfinity Series races here last year, never led but wound up second. Logano was third, Cole Custer fourth and Justin Allgaier took fifth. Larson finished sixth.
Hamlin led 76 laps.
“Our car was just fast and that helps a lot when you have speed,” Hamlin said of his ability to overcome the penalty.
The race got off to a slow start.
There were five cautions in the first 65 laps while workers looked to dry oil from the track.
Daniel Suarez and Elliott Sadler, both of whom had nine top 10 finishes this year and were among the pre-race favorites, were caught up in a wreck on lap 25. Suarez, who was running fifth, spun out and hit the wall after finding oil on the track in turn three, collecting Sadler in the crash.
Jones also hit the patch of oil and nicked the wall.
All three cars pitted multiple times as track officials cleaned up the track. Sadler and Suarez were able to stay on the lead lap, but Jones fell two laps behind and never challenged again.