Perhaps there was no better place for Denny Hamlin to finally notch his first win of 2022. Much to the pleasure of the fans at Richmond Raceway, the hometown favorite from Chesterfield, Va., took the lead in the Toyota Owners 400 from William Byron with five laps remaining and held off the field for a .552-second victory over Kevin Harvick and Byron.
It was amazingly Hamlin’s first top 10 of the 2022 season, though it marked his fourth NASCAR Cup Series victory at the 0.75-mile track – the very place the driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota grew up watching NASCAR as a young fan.
To download images from Denny Hamlin’s Toyota Owners’s 400 victory, click here.
It is the sixth win for the JGR Toyota team in the last eight races at the Richmond track – 18th in the team’s history there. And it is the third consecutive race there that all four JGR drivers finished in the top 10.
The victory was also significant that the 41-year-old Hamlin stopped a 12-race victory run by drivers 30-years old or younger – a mark dating back to last season.
“Just drove as hard as I could,” said Hamlin, a perennial championship contender who had been ranked an uncharacteristic 20th in the standings before the Richmond race.
“So proud of this whole FedEx Camry team, they just never gave up.
“There was no doubt in my mind, maybe just a little, but they got this car right there towards the end,” Hamlin continued. “Wow this it’s just unbelievable.”
“We needed a data point, something, a good run to kind of balance ourselves on other tracks. Obviously, I think we got it here.”
Byron and his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet team opted to stay out on older tires for the last 90 laps and at one point held a strong five-second lead on the field. But as the teams opted for fresher tires during a series of late race green flag pit stops, it became apparent that Byron would have to really work for the win – and do so on worn tires.
Ultimately, Hamlin, who got new tires with 47 laps to go, was able to dice his way through the field, taking the runner-up spot from his JGR teammate Martin Truex Jr. with six laps to go and continue moving forward to dive low and move into the lead around Byron with five laps remaining. Also on fresher tires, the Stewart-Haas Racing driver Harvick was able to pass both Byron and Truex to take his best finish of the season as well.
“Really it’s the first clean day we’ve had all year,” said the 2014 series champion Harvick. “The cars have been fast and we had a shot there at the end just, I wanted to be close enough at the white [flag] to just take a swipe at him but the lapped cars got in the way and I lost a little bit of ground. Still a great day for us and hopefully a little bit of momentum.”
Truex, who has three wins in the last five Richmond races, finished fourth, followed by reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion, Hendrick Motorsports Kyle Larson.
JRG driver Christopher Bell was sixth, followed by Penske Racing’s Ryan Blaney, the polesitter who led the first 128 laps of the race – most on the day. Hendrick Motorsports’ Alex Bowman recovered from a pit road penalty to finish eighth. Kyle Busch recovered from a late race penalty as well, to claim ninth place and Richard Childress Racing driver Austin Dillon was 10th.
Blaney (first) and Truex (second) each won a stage and are the only three-time stage winners so far this season.
Blaney and Elliott are now tied for the NASCAR Cup Series championship lead with a 19-point advantage on third place Truex.
Hamlin’s win capped a victorious weekend for Toyota at Richmond Raceway, which began with a victory on Saturday in the ToyotaCare 250 NASCAR Xfinity Series race with Ty Gibbs, grandson of Coach Joe Gibbs, and concluding with Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race (Denny Hamlin).
The NASCAR Cup Series will stay in the Commonwealth of Virginia on the half-mile Martinsville Speedway in next Saturday night’s Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400 (7:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Truex is the defending spring Martinsville grandfather clock winner.
–NASCAR Wire Service
2022 NASCAR Season
NASCAR returns to Richmond Raceway for the summer race weekend on Aug. 13-14, featuring the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs on Saturday, Aug. 13 at 8:00 p.m. and the Federated Auto Parts 400 Cup Series race on Sunday, Aug. 14 at 3:00 p.m.
NASCAR tickets are available for purchase via phone at 866-455-7223 or online at richmondraceway.com.
The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) is the sanctioning body for the No. 1 form of motorsports in the United States and owner of 16 of the nation’s major motorsports entertainment facilities. NASCAR consists of three national series (NASCAR Cup Series™, NASCAR Xfinity Series™, and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series™), four regional series (ARCA Menards Series, ARCA Menards Series East & West and the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour), one local grassroots series (NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series) and three international series (NASCAR Pinty’s Series, NASCAR Peak Mexico Series, NASCAR Whelen Euro Series). The International Motor Sports Association™ (IMSA®) governs the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship™, the premier U.S. sports car series. NASCAR also owns Motor Racing Network, Racing Electronics, and ONE DAYTONA. Based in Daytona Beach, Florida, with offices in eight cities across North America, NASCAR sanctions more than 1,200 races in more than 30 U.S. states, Canada, Mexico and Europe. For more information visit www.NASCAR.com and www.IMSA.com, and follow NASCAR on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat (‘NASCAR’).
About Richmond Raceway
Richmond Raceway is America’s Premier Short Track annually hosting two NASCAR race weekends, featuring the NASCAR Cup Series and either the NASCAR Xfinity Series or NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, on the iconic ¾-mile D-shaped oval. Richmond Raceway is a regional leader for events including sports, live music and consumer trade shows. The Richmond Raceway Complex hosts more than 200 live events over 280 event days annually including concerts with top national recording artists at Virginia Credit Union LIVE!, the region’s only covered amphitheater. For more information, visit richmondraceway.com, richmondracewaycomplex.com, or vaculive.com.