Phoenix NASCAR: Hamlin saves title bid with win, Logano eliminated

Denny Hamlin survived a late restart in the NASCAR Cup Series race at Phoenix to claim his sixth win of the season and secure a spot in the championship shootout.

He will go up against Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr and Kevin Harvick for the title at Homestead next weekend, with reigning champion Joey Logano among those eliminated at the penultimate round.

After dominating the third stage of the 312-lap event, Hamlin held a 10-second lead on Joe Gibbs Racing team-mate Busch with just a handful of laps to run when a caution was thrown due to John Hunter Nemecheck hitting the wall.

Hamlin’s pace had been such that only seven cars were left on the lead lap. He led the septet into the pitlane, where his crew fitted his Toyota Camry with just left-side tyres, the #11 emerging just ahead of Ryan Blaney and Busch.

On a three-lap sprint to the line, Hamlin was untroubled as he secured JGR’s 18th win in 35 Cup races in 2019, and himself passage to the finale at Homestead next Sunday – an outcome that had looked unlikely after his crash at Texas a week ago.

Polesitter Busch ran strongly throughout the race and will also advance via his points tally – his result and Truex’s Martinsville win meaning JGR will have three of the four drivers in title contention, with Stewart-Haas Racing’s Harvick the only interloper.

Blaney was edged out by Busch on the late restart to claim third for Team Penske’s Ford Mustang with Kyle Larson the highest Chevrolet Camaro finisher in fourth for Ganassi. Both drivers had been championship contenders heading to Phoenix but were eliminated.

With their places already secure in the championship race, Harvick and Truex had quiet runs to fifth and sixth respectively, ahead of Erik Jones and Clint Bowyer.

After winning the second 75-lap stage, reigning Cup champion Logano was looking good in his bid to advance through to Homestead but his race fell apart during the third stage.

The champion’s #22 Mustang dropped through the pack, lacking in pace, with Logano describing his car as “tight” post-race.

Had Hamlin not won the race, then Logano would have taken his place, but the Penske driver could only manage a ninth-place finish ahead of team-mate Brad Keselowski and cannot defend his 2018 title.

Chase Elliott’s slim hopes of a spot in the final title showdown were ended early on when he crashed into the barrier in his Hendrick Chevrolet.

Race result

Pos Driver Team Car Laps
1 Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 312
2 Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 312
3 Ryan Blaney Team Penske Ford 312
4 Kyle Larson Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 312
5 Kevin Harvick Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 312
6 Martin Truex Jr. Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 312
7 Erik Jones Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota 312
8 Clint Bowyer Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 312
9 Joey Logano Team Penske Ford 312
10 Brad Keselowski Team Penske Ford 312
11 Kurt Busch Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet 312
12 Paul Menard Wood Brothers Racing Ford 312
13 Matt DiBenedetto Leavine Family Racing Toyota 312
14 Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 312
15 Daniel Suarez Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 312
16 Chris Buescher JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 311
17 William Byron Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 311
18 Ryan Newman Roush Fenway Racing Ford 311
19 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Roush Fenway Racing Ford 311
20 Ty Dillon Germain Racing Chevrolet 311
21 Daniel Hemric Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 311
22 Aric Almirola Stewart-Haas Racing Ford 310
23 Alex Bowman Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 310
24 Austin Dillon Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet 309
25 Darrell Wallace Jr. Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet 308
26 Ryan Preece JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet 307
27 John Hunter Nemechek Front Row Motorsports Ford 307
28 Ross Chastain Premium Motorsports Chevrolet 307
29 J.J. Yeley Rick Ware Racing Ford 306
30 Michael McDowell Front Row Motorsports Ford 306
31 Garrett Smithley Petty Ware Racing Chevrolet 304
32 Bayley Currey Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet 304
33 Landon Cassill StarCom Racing Chevrolet 303
34 Joe Nemechek Premium Motorsports Chevrolet 296
35 Corey LaJoie Go FAS Racing Ford 294
36 David Ragan Front Row Motorsports Ford 261
37 Reed Sorenson Spire Motorsports Chevrolet 226
38 Joey Gase MBM Motorsports Toyota 170
39 Chase Elliott Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet 165

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