The final race before the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup was completed on Saturday night in the Federated Auto Parts 400 from Richmond International Raceway and Denny Hamlin was the one to take the checkered flag.
A Virginia native, Hamlin got his third win of the year and his third at Richmond as we take a look at the race results:
|Federated Auto Parts 400 Results|
|Place||Driver||Time Behind Leader|
|3||Martin Truex Jr.||0.695|
|19||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||3.426|
|25||Dylan Lupton||1 LAP|
|26||Reed Sorenson||3 LAPS|
|27||Jeffrey Earnhardt||4 LAPS|
|28||Ryan Newman||5 LAPS|
|29||Regan Smith||10 LAPS|
|30||Josh Wise||11 LAPS|
|31||Michael Annett||17 LAPS|
|32||Carl Edwards||41 LAPS|
|33||Tony Stewart||44 LAPS|
|34||David Ragan||45 LAPS|
|35||Brian Scott||45 LAPS|
|36||Landon Cassill||49 LAPS|
|37||Matt DiBenedetto||55 LAPS|
|38||Matt Kenseth||72 LAPS|
|39||Ryan Blaney||128 LAPS|
|40||Paul Menard||143 LAPS|
It was the last chance for drivers on the cusp of the Chase to cement their spots. Here's how the drivers stand after Saturday's racing:
|NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Driver Standings|
|6||Martin Truex Jr.||2|
|NBC Sports Telecast|
The pole-sitter Hamlin led 189 laps on the night intermittently. He was in front for the first 56 laps before squandering it to Martin Truex Jr., who was coming off of a win last week at Darlington.
Truex went on to hold the lead for 193 laps and finish in second, but these drivers didn't have much to worry about as they had already clinched a place in the postseason.
He lost his lead on Lap 245 to Matt Kenseth, who could only hold it for one lap before Regan Smith took over momentarily.
Last year's winner at Richmond, Kenseth was also safe within the Chase, but he could only muster a finish of 38th after he went hard into the wall with 64 laps to go and was forced to withdraw from the race.
In the meantime, Truex was forced to move back to 17th when he was penalized for going too fast on pit road.
By Lap 249, Hamlin got the lead back and held it until Lap 292 when he lost out on the race from pit road to Kyle Larson, another driver safe in the Chase race.
But Truex worked his way back from the middle and grabbed the lead from Larson at Lap 303. He held it for 18 laps, but a caution created by a Carl Edwards spin-out on Lap 321 gave drivers a chance to pit and get fresh tires.
In the race off pit road, Hamlin took the lead once again, but he wasn't able to build a lead or any momentum for that matter due to the sheer number of cautions.
In total, there were 16 cautions on the night, a track record, much to the bewilderment of Hamlin, via Jeff Gluck of USA Today Sports:
The track record-tying 15th caution on Lap 363 was the most dramatic, as NASCAR showed Tony Stewart making contact with Ryan Newman, which prompted the wreck:
Newman saw his chase hopes end in ugly fashion and was not happy with Tony Stewart, via NASCAR on NBC:
Dale Earnhardt Jr, who is nursing a concussion and won't return for the 2016 season, enjoyed Newman's interview:
Even NASCAR on NBC was having trouble keeping count of the number of cautions:
Regardless of all the stoppages and pits, Hamlin managed to hold on to his lead and get his third win of the season.
Chris Buescher, who had a win on the Sprint Cup circuit, needed to finish 30th or better in the point standings in order to make the Chase. He entered Saturday night with an 11-point cushion over David Ragan for that No. 30 spot and was given a huge boost when Ragan was included in that 15th wreck.
He finished 24th on the night, but it was good enough as he is one of four drivers who will be making their first appearance in the Chase, which begins Sept. 18 with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 from Chicagoland Speedway.
Stats courtesy of NASCAR.com.