NASCAR at Kansas 2019 Results: Denny Hamlin Earns 5th Win of Season

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistOctober 20, 2019

KANSAS CITY, KANSAS - OCTOBER 20: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Office Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway on October 20, 2019 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

Denny Hamlin capped off a dominant performance with a win in the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas, on Sunday.

Hamlin led 153 of the 277 laps en route to his fifth victory of the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. He held off Chase Elliott amid multiple overtimes down the final stretch.

Hollywood Casino 400 Standings

1. Denny Hamlin

2. Chase Elliott

3. Kyle Busch

4. Kurt Busch

5. William Byron

6. Martin Truex Jr.

7. Erik Jones

8. Clint Bowyer

9. Kevin Harvick

10. Jimmie Johnson

Sunday's biggest drama centered not on the leader but the battle for eighth in the playoff standings between Brad Keselowski and Chase Elliott.

Keselowski entered the day with 3,078 points to Elliott's 3,054 points. As the day wore on, Elliott closed the gap to three points. The Penske driver was almost safely through to the next round until Ryan Blaney shredded his right rear tire with 15 laps to go.

The restart with 10 laps remaining was the lucky break Elliott needed, but the Hendrick Motorsports driver still had a lot of work to do.

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Elliott, who was in eighth at the restart, steadily worked his way up the field and then capitalized when Erik Jones and Kyle Larson ahead of him made contact. Suddenly the No. 9 car was in third and level on points with Keselowski.

Then the Chevrolet driver overtook Kyle Busch for second place, thus giving him sole possession of eighth in the standings.

The first overtime resulted from a wreck involving Bubba Wallace and Matt Tifft after Wallace lost his left rear tire. Keselowski used the caution to head to pit road for new tires.

The strategy helped him gain enough spots on the leaderboard to climb back into the playoff picture before the final caution.

Hamlin was mere feet in front of finish line as the white flag waved before the red caution light went off, which would've ended the event. Instead, Elliott had yet another lifeline in the form of overtime.

The restart couldn't have gone much worse for Keselowski. He got stuck in the middle of the track and watched as he lost ground to cars driving around the outside and inside. The Ford driver even hit the wall briefly to compound his reversal of fortune.

Elliott again moved into second.

When the dust cleared, Keselowski was in 19th, and his title quest was over.

The 2012 series champion reflected on watching his season unravel:

William Byron, Alex Bowman and Clint Bowyer joined Keselowski in falling out of the postseason as the field was trimmed from 12 to eight.

Three races remain before the championship in Homestead, Florida, on Nov. 17.

The First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway will get the round of eight underway Oct. 27. Keselowski prevailed in the spring race there in March.

Kyle Busch will likely consolidate his position in the top eight with an eye toward the final round. Busch has an average finish of 2.4 in the Monster Energy Series' last five stops at the Virginia short track. His 582 laps led over that stretch are second only to Keselowski (712 laps).