Denny Hamlin Uses His Bumper to Win on Last Lap at Kansas

Denny Hamlin becomes the 9th different winner in the NASCAR Cup Series for 2023. With the help of his bumper, he passes Kyle Larson on the last lap at Kansas Speedway.

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Kansas Speedway, Kansas City, KS — May 7, 2023

The NASCAR Cup Series visits Kansas Speedway today for the AdventHealth 400.

In the heartland of America, the groundbreaking for Kansas Speedway was held on May 25, 1999. The official opening of Kansas Speedway was in 2001, with the first NASCAR Cup Series race being held on September 30, 2001. The first Kansas Cup event was won by Hendrick Motorsport’s driver and NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon. Gordon would actually win the first two NASCAR Cup Series races held at the track (2001, 2002).

During the 2012 season, between the April and October events, the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway track underwent a repave, adding variable banking in the corners, bringing them to 17-20 degrees. The advancement has opened up racing lanes from the apron to the wall and has become a driver favorite.

“I think Kansas has been a great race track and, from a driver’s standpoint, a fun race track because of the fact. It’s worn in so well,” said veteran Kevin Harvick, the Stewart-Haas Racing driver who has competed in every Cup race since the track opened.

“Kansas has become one of the more unique race tracks because of the fact the asphalt and the shape of the race track is so driver-friendly, as far as where you can drive on the race track,” he continued. “You can literally drive from the wall to the apron all the way around the race track. So, it’s a fun race track.”

In total, there have been 34 NASCAR Cup Series races at Kansas Speedway; one event from 2001 – 2010 and two races per year since 2011.

Snapping the Winless Streak

Joe Gibbs Racing driver Martin Truex Jr. snapped a 54-race winless streak on Monday at Dover. Wondering who else is wrestling a long winless streak this season that might get to Victory Lane at Kansas?

Looking at the entry list for the AdventHealth 400, a total of 17 different drivers are riding winless streaks that date back to prior to the start of the year, and five of the 17 are former Kansas Speedway winners.

Previous Winners of a NASCAR Cup Series On A Winless Streak That Started Prior To 2023

Driver Track Date Races Since
Justin Haley Daytona July 7, 2019 187
Michael McDowell Daytona February 14, 2021 82
Brad Keselowski Talladega April 25, 2021 73
Aric Almirola Loudon July 18, 2021 61
Ryan Blaney Daytona August 28, 2021 57
Austin Cindric Daytona February 20, 2022 46
Chase Briscoe Phoenix March 13, 2022 43
Ross Chastain Talladega April 24, 2022 37
Denny Hamlin Charlotte May 29, 2022 33
Daniel Suarez Sonoma June 12, 2022 31
AJ Allmendinger Indy RC August 15, 2021 30
Kevin Harvick Richmond August 14, 2022 23
Austin Dillon Daytona August 28, 2022 21
Erik Jones Darlington September 4, 2022 20
Bubba Wallace Kansas September 11, 2022 18
Chris Buescher Bristol September 17, 2022 18
Chase Elliott Talladega October 2, 2022 10

 

NASCAR News

Ryan Newman will make his first start in almost two years at Darlington Raceway for the Cup Series race on May 13th, 2023 – a fitting return, considering that the event is known as “Throwback Weekend,” wherein drivers run special paint schemes reminiscent of past NASCAR liveries. Darlington will also mark Newman’s first race behind the wheel of a NASCAR Next Gen Ford Mustang, which debuted for the 2022 racing season.

Ryan Newman’s last race as a full-time Cup Series driver was at Phoenix Raceway back in November 2021, where he drove the No. 6 NASCAR Ford for the final time before retiring. On May 5th, 2023, the NASCAR veteran announced that he will return to Cup Series competition part-time this season, thanks to a new partnership with Rick Ware Racing.

After an appeal by Richard Childress Racing of the L1 penalty assessed for using an illegally modified part at Martinsville Speedway, the penalty was applied as the panel denied the request. Driver Austin Dillon slid down the playoff standings and likely will have to post a win to qualify for the postseason. The team had 60 points deducted from their season total and was fined $75,000.

Today’s Race

The mile-and-a-half racetrack creates a total distance of 400.5 miles or 267 laps. Stages are divided into 80/52/102 lap segments.

Kurt Busch is the defending champion of the race. This weekend, nine of the 18 NASCAR Cup Series Kansas winners are active.

Active Kansas Race Winners (9) Wins Seasons
Denny Hamlin 3 2020, 2019, 2012
Joey Logano 3 2020, 2015, 2014
Kevin Harvick 3 2018, 2016, 2013
Kyle Busch 2 2021, 2016
Brad Keselowski 2 2019, 2011
Martin Truex Jr 2 2017 sweep
Bubba Wallace 1 2022
Kyle Larson 1 2021
Chase Elliott 1 2018

 

Teammates William Byron and Kyle Larson will start on the front row. Last week’s winner Martin Truex Jr. and new points leader Ross Chastain line up behind them.

Stage One

William Byron(24) surged to the lead from the pole position. Ross Chastain(1) and Kyle Larson(5) battled for second. On lap two, Byron got loose down the backstretch and dropped to fourth. Tyler Reddick(45) joined the two leaders to make it three-wide across the start/finish line.

The fight for the lead saw Reddick get into the rear bumper of Larson, who spun down the track avoiding the wall and other race cars. But bringing out the first caution flag of the day on lap four.

Restarts are wild at Kansas, as cars fan out three and four wide to make up as many positions as possible on a track that is known to be hard to pass on.

Back to green flag racing, and Reddick establishes himself at the head of the field. However, teammates Martin Truex Jr.(19) and Denny Hamlin(11) were the fastest cars on the track as they worked their way through traffic toward the front.

Martin Truex Jr (left) and Denny Hamlin (right) battle at Kansas / NASCAR Photo

Truex took the lead and held it until green flag pit stops began midway through the Stage. When all service stops were complete, Hamlin was the new leader with Truex in his rearview mirror.

 

With 10 laps to go in the Stage, Hamlin was out front, followed by Truex, Ty Gibbs(54), Reddick, and Daniel Suarez(99) as they jockeyed for Stage points.

Stage One Results

POS CAR DRIVER POINTS
1 11 Denny Hamlin 10
2 19 Martin Truex Jr. 9
3 54 Ty Gibbs 8
4 45 Tyler Reddick 7
5 99 Daniel Suarez 6
6 20 Christopher Bell 5
7 23 Bubba Wallace 4
8 12 Ryan Blaney* 3
9 1 Ross Chastain 2
10 5 Kyle Larson 1

*Ford Mustang Drivers

Stage Two

After Stage ending pit stops, the top three remained the same off pit road, with Hamlin, Truex, and Gibbs exiting first. Hamlin and Truex swapped the lead back and forth as they quickly separated themselves from the remainder of the field.

Behind the two leaders, positions swapped every lap as drivers jockeyed for positions.

On lap 109, Austin Cindric(2) lost a wheel and hit the wall, bringing out the caution. NASCAR Cup cars continue to have wheel troubles with the single lug nut introduced on the Next-Gen Car in 2022. Despite severe penalties instituted by NASCAR, teams are still struggling with the tire-changing process.

Pit stops under the yellow flag resulted in a new leader when cars returned to the track. Bubba Wallace(23) was out first, followed by Chastain, Truex, Gibbs, and Larson. But, it did not take long for Truex to return to the top spot.

With 139 laps complete, Aric Almirola had a tire go down, and he spun. The incident brought out the caution at the perfect time for teams to make their second service stop of the Stage to carry them to the green and white checkered flag.

This time all the usual names filled spots at the front of the pack. Larson was first off, followed by Truex, Hamlin, Chastain, and Wallace.

With 18 laps to go in the Stage, Josh Berry(48) slid up into Gibbs and lost control. The accident brought out the caution flag again. Neither car was severely damaged, Erik Jones(43) and Chris Buescher(17) were also listed as being involved. Everyone was able to continue.

The restart came with 12 laps to go. Wallace, Larson, Truex, Hamlin, Chase Elliott(9), and Kyle Busch(8) fired off in the first three rows, with everyone wanting to gain as many Stage points as possible.

With eight laps to go, Christopher Bell(20) spun down the backstretch, and the race went back under caution.

Surprisingly the leaders all pitted, forfeiting Stage points in favor of setting themselves up for Final Stage and a better shot at the race win. Drivers that stayed on track will benefit from the strategy decision at the end of this Stage.

Joey Logano(22) and McDowell(34) restarted on the front row when the green flag waved with three laps to go. Cars with fresh tires lined up behind the nine drivers who stayed out. The perfect formula for trouble, and before a lap could be completed, Kyle Busch had to check up as they raced four-wide in front of him. Busch took a bump from behind by Ryan Preece(41) and shot across the track, hitting the inside wall.

Stage Two Results

POS CAR DRIVER POINTS
1 22 Joey Logano* 10
2 34 Michael McDowell* 9
3 42 Noah Gragson 8
4 43 Erik Jones 7
5 16 AJ Allmendinger 6
6 17 Chris Buescher* 5
7 3 Austin Dillon 4
8 77 Ty Dillon 3
9 5 Kyle Larson 2
10 11 Denny Hamlin 1

*Ford Mustang Drivers

The Final Stage

The pit stop strategy at the end of the stage benefited the leaders as those who stayed on the track came in during the Stage break. Larson, Hamlin, Wallace, Elliott, and Truex led the field to the green flag.

With 87 laps to go, Gibbs tried to drive under Truex and got loose. He spun around on the backstretch, just tapping the inside wall. However, with flat-spotted tires, he tried to drive back to the pits and destroyed the front end of the car as the tires shredded and took body panels with them when they came apart.

The eighth caution of the day will set up another restart as drivers continue to try and improve their positions. Most of the leaders opted to stay on the track. Truex was one of the drivers to pit as he was not happy with the performance of his race car.

Excitement at the front of the pack saw Elliott make a run for the lead. He slid up in front of Larson with Hamlin thinking about taking them three-wide. Truex, on fresh tires, drove from the middle of the pack into the fourth position, and Reddick held down the fifth spot.

With 77 laps to go, Harrison Burton(21) spun, and the caution was displayed for the ninth time. Everyone but Truex took the opportunity to pit. Another stop will be required to complete the full distance of the race.

Coming to the restart, Truex led, Austin Dillon(3), Logano, and Noah Gragson(42) followed. By the time they reached the 65 laps to go, the lead pack had reshuffled to Larson in the lead, followed by Truex, Hamlin, Dillon, and Byron.

Then with 62 laps to go, Gragson spun, resulting in the 10th caution of the day. Almost the entire field pitted under the yellow flag with 60 to go. The timing will allow those drivers to make it to the finish on fuel. However, their tires will be worn out and could create late race issues.

Back under green, Erik Jones(43) spun down the backstretch, and yes, the 11th caution flag flew.

Restarting with 47 laps to go, the top five were Byron, Larson, Hamlin, Truex, and Logano.

The Finish

Running 17 laps run under green flag conditions left 30 laps to determine the outcome of the AdventHealth 400. The lead pack included Larson, Byron, Hamlin, Chastain, and Wallace. That group had formed a slight interval on the remainder of the field.

With 26 to go, Hamlin moved into second. His car seemed to come on in a long run, and Hamlin started gaining on the leader. With 13 laps to go, Hamlin had closed to two car lengths behind Larson. But catching the leader is one thing. Passing the leader is another.

With five laps to go, they were door-to-door. Larson held off the charge. After taking the white flag, Hamlin closed to the back of Larson. Out of turn two, Hamlin pulled the bump-and-run move tapping the left rear of Larson’s car. Larson wobbled and turned into the outside wall. He was able to save the car and held onto second place as Hamlin drove off to take the checkered flag.

Hamlin exited the car to the boos of the crowd, Larson climbed out and said his car was loose. He just could not hold off Denny. They handled things with grace.

A confrontation developed on pit road as the leaders were interviewed. Mid-race Ross Chastain had forced Noah Gragson into the outside wall, Gragson responded by driving Chastain to the bottom of the track. Apparently, Gragson did not feel that retaliation was sufficient.

As the two approached each other, neither seemed happy, and an argument broke out. Gragson grabbed Chastains driver’s suit and pushed him backward. Chastain responded with a right hook to the jaw of Gragson. The pair were quickly separated. We now know that Chastain can dish it out while driving the car and won’t back down from a confrontation outside of the driver’s seat.

NASCAR Playoff Standings

Denny Hamlin became the ninth different winner in the Cup Series for 2023. Ross Chastain retained the series points lead with his fifth-place finish at Kansas.

RK DRIVER POINTS STATUS
1 Kyle Larson 338 In Win(2)
2 William Byron 331 In Win(2)
3 Kyle Busch 308 In Win(2)
4 Christopher Bell 373 In Win
5 Martin Truex Jr. 368 In Win
6 Denny Hamlin 368 In Win
7 Tyler Reddick 354 In Win
8 Joey Logano* 315 In Win
9 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 295 In Win
10 Ross Chastain 404 +149
11 Kevin Harvick* 358 +103
12 Ryan Blaney* 350 +95
13 Brad Keselowski* 321 +66
14 Chris Buescher* 302 +47
15 Alex Bowman 270 +15
16 Daniel Suarez 259 +4
NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Cut Line
17 Chase Briscoe* 255 -4
18 Bubba Wallace 253 -6
19 Ty Gibbs 239 -20
20 Michael McDowell* 237 -22
21 Austin Cindric* 230 -29
22 Corey LaJoie 225 -34
23 Todd Gilliland* 214 -45
24 Erik Jones 209 -50
25 Aric Almirola* 205 -54

*Ford Mustang Drivers

Results of the Advent Health 400 from Kansas Speedway

POS CAR DRIVER BEHIND LAPS
1 11 Denny Hamlin 267
2 5 Kyle Larson 1.307 267
3 24 William Byron 4.301 267
4 23 Bubba Wallace 4.677 267
5 1 Ross Chastain 5.473 267
6 22 Joey Logano 5.988 267
7 9 Chase Elliott 6.426 267
8 19 Martin Truex Jr. 7.444 267
9 45 Tyler Reddick 8.132 267
10 3 Austin Dillon 9.692 267
11 4 Kevin Harvick 11.618 267
12 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 13.105 267
13 10 Aric Almirola 13.329 267
14 16 AJ Allmendinger 15.882 267
15 99 Daniel Suarez 20.075 267
16 12 Ryan Blaney 22.442 267
17 17 Chris Buescher 22.905 267
18 31 Justin Haley 27.861 267
19 6 Brad Keselowski 28.601 267
20 7 Corey LaJoie 29.626 267
21 43 Erik Jones 30.387 267
22 77 Ty Dillon 30.615 267
23 51 JJ Yeley -1 266
24 38 Todd Gilliland -1 266
25 48 Josh Berry -1 266
26 34 Michael McDowell -1 266
27 41 Ryan Preece -1 266
28 15 Brennan Poole -3 264
29 42 Noah Gragson -5 262
30 21 Harrison Burton -6 261
31 2 Austin Cindric -7 260
32 14 Chase Briscoe -7 260
33 78 Josh Bilicki -7 260
34 54 Ty Gibbs -91 176
35 8 Kyle Busch -105 162
36 20 Christopher Bell -110 157