Hamlin wins final race before the Chase
Denny Hamlin capped the NASCAR regular season with a win in the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday.
Hamlin led 189 of the 407 laps, while 16 cautions ate up 89 laps, and he will enter the Chase for the Sprint Cup in third place behind Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski.
"Everything just kinda worked well for us all day," Hamlin told NBC Sports after the race. "Hopefully now we'll go on another Chase run."
Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr., Keselowski and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-five finishers.
Austin Dillon (13th), Chase Elliott (19th), Jamie McMurray (seventh) and Chris Buescher (24th) clinched the final four spots in the 16-driver Chase.
"For a small team like we are to pull this off and find ourselves in the Chase is pretty special," said Buescher, who won the Xfinity Series in 2015. "Now we have to talk a new strategy. Things are different."
Of the 16 cautions, one stood out late.
With 37 laps left, the red flag came out after Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman stated a multi-car accident going into turn three.
Newman's night and Chase hopes were dashed in the pile-up and he expressed his displeasure with Stewart in the infield.
"I guess he thought he was in a sprint car again and didn't know how to control his anger," Newman told NBC Sports, suggesting Stewart was upset about contact made between the two drivers earlier in the lap.
"Just disappointing that you have somebody old like that that should be retired the way he drives. It's just ridiculous," Newman said.
"I don't think there was any reason other than him just being bipolar and having anger issues. Google Tony Stewart, you'll see all kinds of things he's done. Look it up on YouTube, everything else. Quite the guy."
Stewart discussed the incident after the race.
"He's right," Stewart said, admitting to diving in front of Newman. "That was the third time he's driven into me. How many times does a guy get a free pass until you're sick of it?
"Three times is two more than I usually let someone drive into me."