Denny Hamlin went the entire NASCAR Cup Series regular season without winning a single race. In four playoff races, he has claimed two wins.
The second came Sunday night in the South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Hamlin punched his ticket to the Round of 8 with the victory.
After regular-season champion Kyle Larson won the first stage, Hamlin took control in the second stage and led for most of it. The only point where Hamlin fell behind in the third stage was on a green-flag pit stop when Tyler Reddick, Brad Keselowski and Austin Dillon stayed out. Once the cars in front of him went to pit road, Hamlin was back in the lead, which he did not relinquish.
Hamlin slowed down with four laps to go, allowing Chase Elliott to get to four-tenths of a second off the lead. Elliott was unable to catch Hamlin. who led 137 laps in the 267-lap race.
It was a particularly clean race, with the only unplanned caution flag coming out in the first stage when Joey Gase suffered a flat tire and crashed into the wall. He did not collect any cars, however, and the rest of the field was able to stay clear of the incident.
As the calendar flips to October, the second of three Round of 12 races is set to take place at Talladega. The YellaWood 500 is scheduled for on Oct. 3.
Sporting News tracked live updates and lap-by-lap highlights from NASCAR’s playoff race at Las Vegas on Sunday night. Follow below for complete results from the South Point 400.
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NASCAR at Las Vegas updates, highlights from South Point 400
(All times Eastern)
10:06 p.m.: Hamlin holds off Elliott late to win the South Point 400.
10:05 p.m.: Hamlin has a lead under half a second over Elliott, who has made a lot of ground on the final lap.
10:04 p.m.: Hamlin has been slowed down a bit with four laps remaining. Elliott continues to gain on Hamlin.
10:01 p.m.: Elliott has narrowed the gap down to just over a second now, but Kyle Busch remains more than 10 seconds back of Hamlin for first with under 10 laps to go.
9:57 p.m.: Hamllin is continuing to expand his lead as he continues to lap a few cars. There’s only 17 remaining for him to win his second race in the posteason.
9:53 p.m.: The race looks to be coming down to Hamlin and Elliott with 25 laps remaining. The two are separated by a second-and-a-half, while no one else is within eight seconds of Hamlin.
9:48 p.m.: Kyle Busch is reporting damage to his car with 35 laps to go.
9:43 p.m.: Byron has to come back to pit road due to a flat tire. Huge blow for a playoff driver.
9:41 p.m.: Keselowski and Dillon are the two drivers that have not gone to pit road, but Hamlin is leading Elliott, Truex and Kyle Busch with 47 laps left among drivers that have pitted.
9:40 p.m.: Reddick is making his pit stop.
9:39 p.m.: Bowman had to come on pit road a second time due to a loose tire.
9:38 p.m.: Now Hamlin is on pit road. Reddick is the leader for now.
9:36 p.m.: Kyle Busch is the first in the top 10 to take the pit under green. Truex now comes in to pit, and several other drivers in the front are pitting as well.
9:34 p.m.: A few cars have started to make green flag pit stops. So far, all the leaders have remained out there. Only 59 laps to go in the race, and most of it has been run under green.
9:34 p.m.: Larson has moved up to 13th, but he’s complained about the state of his tires.
9:30 p.m.: Hamlin takes advantage of Reddick getting caught behind Cody Ware, who is four laps down. The 11 has extended his lead out to about a second-and-a-half.
9:24 p.m.: Reddick is running behind Hamlin for the lead on lap 192. Reddick is trying to move in past him on the inside, but he wasn’t able to clear him.
9:22 p.m.: Elliott is gaining on Truex for third place. He’s got about a second lead over Kyle and Kurt Busch, who are in fifth and sixth.
9:17 p.m.: Harvick and Elliott are at it again, fighting for fourth.
9:15 p.m.: Reddick moves up to second behind Hamlin and ahead of Truex.
9:13 p.m.: Harvick trying to fit between Reddick and Kyle Busch as he tries to move up the field. Hamlin and Truex still leading the field.
9:12 p.m.: The final stage is under green.
9:08 p.m.: Hamlin, Truex, Reddick, Kyle Busch and Harvick are the first five off pit road.
9:03 p.m.: Hamlin wins the stage, with Busch, Reddick, Truex and Logano rounding out the top five.
9 p.m.: Larson pits under green with seven to go in Stage 2. Hamlin inherits the lead.
8:51 p.m.: A bobble in the pit forces Byron’s 24 team into a two-tire stop instead of a four-tire stop
8:47 p.m.: Larson leads Byron by about two seconds with 30 laps to go in Stage 2. Behind them are Kyle Busch, Hamlin and Elliott. Green-flag pit stops loom.
8:32 p.m.: Elliott tries to pass Larson on the inside, but he hasn’t been able to get the space to clear him just yet.
8:30 p.m.: Larson takes the lead over Byron, and now Byron and Elliott are running next to one another for second.
8:30 p.m.: There’s the restart, and on lap 99, the drivers are back on green.
8:26 p.m.: When the green flag comes back out, it will be Byron, Larson, Blaney, Elliott and Kurt Busch making up the top five.
8:22 p.m.: Several drivers, including Hamlin and Kyle Busch, use the caution to take a visit to pit road.
8:21 p.m.: Gase lost his left rear tire and hit the wall while in the air.
8:20 p.m.: Caution flag comes out as Joey Gase is involved in a big crash. Back of his car looks totally wrecked.
8:20 p.m.: Byron takes advantage of the three-wide for the lead and moves out in front.
8:19 p.m.: Bell already was in a tough spot after taking damage earlier in the race, but he’s now in 30th a lap down after he was unable to beat the pace car off pit road.
8:17 p.m.: The green flag is back out and Blaney rides up behind a fast restart from Hamlin to move into second, but Larson gets going enough to pick the second spot back up from the outside. Larson tries to cut Hamlin on the outside and he’s able to make the pass for the lead.
8:15 p.m.: Hamlin choosing to ride the bottom on the restart.
8:11 p.m.: Hamlin, Larson, Elliott, Blaney and Byron are the first off pit road. Kyle Busch drops five spots as the start of the second stage nears.
8:07 p.m.: Larson wins the first stage by just over a second and a half. Busch, Hamlin, Blaney, Byron round out the top five.
8:04 p.m.: Five laps to go in the first stage. Larson leads Busch, Hamlin, Blaney and Byron.
8:00 p.m.: Tyler Reddick is trying to play the role of spoiler, as he passed Harvick on the inside to push the 4 down to eighth place.
7:56 p.m.: Harvick and Chase Elliott now battling in for sixth after Byron moves up into the fifth spot. There was, of course, some friction between the two during last week’s playoff race .
7:52 p.m.: Harvick and DiBenedetto with some contact.
7:51 p.m.: Byron has moved into sixth and is pushing Harvick for fifth.
7:49 p.m.: Larson makes an impressive move to work through traffic and move past Hamlin for first place. Busch also able to pass Hamlin to move the 11 down to third.
7:45 p.m.: Larson gets the pass on Busch on lap 41 to move out into second.
7:44 p.m.: Larson gets out ahead of Blaney for third place and is close behind Hamlin and Busch.
7:41 p.m.: Hamlin is able to get out in front of Busch, who is now riding next to Larson for second and third.
7:40 p.m.: The green flag is back out. Hamlin gets a strong run off the restart and nearly gets ahead of Kyle Busch, but the 18 is able to stay out in front. The two are riding next to one another early on the 32nd lap.
7:39 p.m.: Christopher Bell took some damage to the front right coming into pit road. He’s now in 33rd coming off pit road.
7:35 p.m.: First five off pit road: Kyle Busch, Hamlin, Blaney, Larson and Harvick.
7:35 p.m.: Most of the field is making the stop on pit road.
7:33 p.m.: Competition caution brought out for lap 25.
7:30 p.m.: Byron has moved up 25 spots, now up to No. 10, while Truex has moved up 17 spots to No. 19. Both had to start in the rear, but have made serious waves on lap 19.
7:24 p.m.: Hamlin has now worked the inside to cut in front of Blaney for the lead. Busch and Larson were riding side-by-side, but it’s Busch that stays out in front with Blaney sticking in second.
7:23 p.m.: Hamlin and Kyle Busch are now at second and third, but it’s a tight race. The top seven are all within a second of first six laps into the race.
7:21 p.m.: Ryan Blaney doesn’t take long to take the lead ahead of Larson. Hamlin is trying to work the outside to get in ahead of Larson to move into second.
7:20 p.m.: The Round of 12 is officially underway.
7:08 p.m.: UFC president Dana White gives the command to drivers.
7:08 p.m.: Both William Byron and Martin Truex Jr. will have to start in the rear after failing pre-race inspections.
7:01 p.m.: Matt Stell singing the national anthem during the pre-race ceremonies.
6:45 p.m.: Drivers are being introduced ahead of tonight’s race. Here’s one of the most popular in Vegas.
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