AVONDALE, Ariz. — Denny Hamlin adamantly insisted “it is not over” after a vital mistake final week put the Daytona 500 winner on the verge of elimination from NASCAR’s championship race.
He remained undeterred, assured in his probabilities to win Sunday at ISM Raceway and save his season with a victory that will give him an computerized berth into the ultimate 4.
He referred to as his shot and delivered.
Hamlin snagged his first spot within the championship discipline since 2014 together with his win, a victory that eradicated NASCAR champion Joey Logano from the playoffs and gave Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota three of the slots in subsequent week’s decider at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“I attempt to not put an excessive amount of into it,” Hamlin mentioned. “There’s nonetheless work to be performed. Would not assure a championship. Provides us an opportunity. Stay to combat one other day. That is all you may ask for.”
Hamlin, one of many favorites to win the title, confronted elimination after spinning final week at Texas however took management and had the win basically within the bag till a warning with 9 laps remaining arrange a ultimate restart.
Hamlin, who had been horrible on restarts the complete race, punched his steering wheel in anger when the yellow flag waved. His Joe Gibbs Racing crew made an uncommon name to take simply two tires — the identical technique as contender Ryan Blaney — and the 2 lined up subsequent to one another for the restart with three laps to go.
Hamlin lastly obtained a good restart, pulled into the lead, and Gibbs teammate Kyle Busch handed Blaney to place a buffer between the 2.
Hamlin then cruised to his sixth win of the season and punched the air together with his fist in his automotive as he crossed the end line. He jumped into the arms of his ready crew, which he had promised earlier Sunday to present his all in an effort to make the championship discipline at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
“This race crew labored so laborious this complete yr. They need to be there,” Hamlin mentioned of his No. 11 crew. “I put them in a nasty gap final week. I instructed them right this moment within the assembly, I mentioned, `I will give all the pieces I’ve obtained to make up for the error I made final week.’ That is all I obtained.”
Hamlin will race Gibbs teammates Busch and Martin Truex Jr., in addition to Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing, for the championship. Gibbs, winner of 18 races this season, and Toyota have three of the slots within the ultimate 4.
“I really feel like we’re all right here as a result of we labored collectively,” mentioned Truex.
Chevrolet won’t be represented for the third consecutive season and Harvick races a Ford. Hamlin’s win sealed the producer championship for Toyota.
Truex gained the 2018 title, Busch gained in 2015 and Harvick in 2014. All three raced for the championship final season in opposition to Logano, who gained the finale to snag the title away from the three drivers who dominated the season. This yr the ultimate 4 is equally deserving of their spots within the finale — the champion has needed to win the race at Homestead to say the title yearly for the reason that elimination format debuted in 2014.
Hamlin has by no means gained a championship, however had probabilities in 2010 and 2014 however had disappointing races — a call to not take tires after a late warning took Hamlin from the result in out of rivalry within the 2014 race.
“Denny has not gained a championship, so you may think about how laborious he’ll go for it,” mentioned Gibbs.
Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, Blaney and Logano have been eradicated. Logano was searching for an opportunity to make it back-to-back titles however had a mechanical drawback early within the ultimate stage that dropped him deep into the sphere.
“No clue. An air strain adjustment made it go from a successful automotive to not capable of keep on the lead lap. That sounds ridiculous,” mentioned Logano. “We’ll stay. Every little thing goes to be OK. We’re nonetheless lucky to be right here and grateful to do what we love.”
ELLIOTT’S AWFUL ROUND
Elliott’s championship probabilities ended with a crash within the ultimate stage. He needed to win to earn a berth at Homestead after a disastrous third spherical of the playoffs.
NASCAR’s hottest driver had a mechanical drawback at Martinsville, crashed final week at Texas and crashed Sunday when he appeared to have a tire challenge that prompted him to spin.
“Only a continuation of our first two weeks,” Elliott mentioned. “I really feel like we have been in a very good place to run stable. Unsure why we had a tire go down, I feel that is what occurred. These final three weeks have been tough.”
Sunday’s championship-deciding finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the final time the monitor will host the finale. Logano is the defending race winner.