Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Denny Hamlin Scores Commanding Victory in Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol

Denny Hamlin picked up his third victory of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season in Saturday’s Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Photo Credit: Tyson Gifford, Racing America

Each week in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, Denny Hamlin has come to the racetrack with race-winning speed, but for a variety of different reasons, has been unable to close the deal and take home the trophy.

That didn’t end up being a problem for the 42-year-old driver in the Bass Pro Shops Night Race though, as the driver of the No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry TRD led the final 135 laps en route to his third victory of the 2023 season.

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Starting from the outside of the front row, Hamlin had the lead in his sights throughout the entirety of the 500-lap contest, but didn’t officially take over the lead for the first time until getting around his rookie teammate Ty Gibbs on lap 354.

Once Hamlin was able to shake Gibbs, the now 51-time NASCAR Cup Series winner was easily the fastest car on track, quickly gapping the field after the final caution of the event flew with just over 130 laps remaining.

By the end of the 500-lap contest, Hamlin was able to stretch his lead to 2.437 seconds over runner-up finisher Kyle Larson, who rebounded from a terrible qualifying lap that relegated him to last place at the initial start.

Larson, driving the No. 5 Valvoline Chevrolet, would lead 20 laps in the middle portion of the event, but have to settle for a second-place finish, as the only driver to finish inside the top five in each of the three races in the first round of the post-season.

Christopher Bell was finally able to get his luck turned around, coming home third on the evening after looking like the dominant car in the race’s opening two stages, leading a race-high 187 laps. The finish would be good enough to advance him to the ‘Round of 12’.

Chris Buescher scored another top-five finish in fourth place, while 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of The Year Ty Gibbs rounded out the top-five in the No. 54 Toyota Camry TRD, after leading 102 laps.

Michael McDowell had a strong run throughout the entirety of Saturday’s 500-lap gauntlet at Bristol Motor Speedway, finishing sixth, but still came up 16 points short of advancing to the ‘Round of 12’ with his Front Row Motorsports team.

Chase Elliott finished in seventh, with Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron directly behind him in eighth place. Brad Keselowski, and another post-season hopeful Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. completed the top-10.

Despite scoring his eighth top-10 finish of the year, Stenhouse also came up just short of advancing in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, leaving Bristol sitting 15th in point standings with just seven races remaining on the season.

Finishing just outside the top-10 was Carson Hocevar, who picked up an 11th-place result in his fourth NASCAR Cup Series start, and his third for LEGACY MOTOR CLUB. The finish was the best result for the No. 42 Chevrolet in 2023.

Bubba Wallace finished the race in 14th place, barely sliding into the next round of the NASCAR Cup Series post-season, largely as a result of the eight-stage points that the 23XI Racing driver picked up in the race’s first stage.

His good fortune spelled misfortune for defending NASCAR Cup Series champion Joey Logano, though, with the No. 22 Ford Mustang missing the second round of the playoffs by just four points, after getting knocked out of the race via an accident.

Kevin Harvick, who entered his final NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, was also eliminated following a tough evening at Bristol, where his No. 4 Ford Mustang finished in 29th place, five laps off the pace of the leaders.

Leaving Bristol, the NASCAR Cup Series travels to the southern part of the United States to Texas Motor Speedway, where the field will tackle 500 miles at a very difficult intermediate track in Fort Worth, Texas.

Ross Chastain, Kyle Larson, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney, Chris Buescher, Martin Truex, Jr., Christopher Bell, Bubba Wallace, William Byron, and Tyler Reddick find themselves still in contention for the NASCAR Cup Series title.

Race Results – Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol

Race Results: NASCAR Cup Series Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol

Joseph Srigley
Joseph Srigley
University of Windsor | Business Administration - Supply Chain & Data Analytics Editor at

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