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It seemed that Denny Hamlin had Sunday’s First Data 500 at Martinsville Speedway won.
When the green flag dropped for the final restart with two laps to go in overtime, Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota took off seamlessly. But Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch came up beside him, making contact with the No. 11 to take the lead as the white flag waved and holding on to win at Martinsville while the field wrecked behind him.
The win punched Busch’s ticket to the championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway and marked the No. 18 driver’s second career win at “The Paperclip.”
MORE: Hamlin, Elliott clash
A spin from Joey Logano after a tire rub with nine laps to go brought out what was thought to be the final caution of the day at Martinsville, setting up a restart between leader Brad Keselowski and second place Chase Elliott. When the green flag dropped, Elliott’s No. 24 Chevrolet sped off first, taking the lead as Keselowski’s No. 2 went high up the track.
But Hamlin wasn’t done; he took the second position and made contact with the back of leader Elliott’s bumper, causing the No. 24 to spin out with two laps to go in scheduled time and bringing out the caution. Elliott would finish 27th.
After the checkered flag fell and cars spun in a wreck behind Busch, Elliott nudged Hamlin’s No. 11 — which finished seventh — into the wall. The two exited their cars and had a heated discussion.
Martin Truex Jr. made a late charge to take second place in his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota, while Clint Bowyer’s No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford finished third. Keselowski’s No. 2 Team Penske Ford was fourth and Kevin Harvick’s No. 4 SHR Ford rounded out the top five.
Keselowski swept the first two stages, winning Stage 1 and holding off a fast-charging Kyle Busch to snatch Stage 2.
Jimmie Johnson was mandated to start from the rear due to a pre-race tire change following a qualifying spin; the nine-time Martinsville winner maneuvered through the field, even leading the race at one point, but slowed toward the end and finished 12th.
Kyle Larson, who was ousted from the NASCAR Playoffs last weekend at Kansas Speedway, made hard contact with the wall at Lap 301, ending his day early. He was scored 37th.
The Monster Energy Series is back on track at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, Nov. 5 for the AAA Texas 500, the second race in the Round of 8 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN/NBC Sports App).
This story will be updated.
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