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Denny Hamlin wins at Chicago!

Joe Gibbs Racing opened the Chase for the Sprint Cup Series Championship in the same way it concluded the NASCAR regular season: with a trip to victory lane. This time it was Denny Hamlin’s turn to claim the checkered flag in today’s MyAFibRisk.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. All three JGR teams would join their teammate in the top ten today with Carl Edwards claiming second, Matt Kenseth fifth and Kyle Busch, who led a race-high 121 laps, finished ninth.

The win automatically advances Hamlin into the second round of the Chase regardless of his finishes the next two weeks in New Hampshire and Dover. With today’s results, JGR now holds the top four spots in the standings, with Kenseth the current leader among Chase contenders, while Hamlin is second, Edwards third and Busch fourth.

Today’s win continued JGR’s recent dominance in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The organization has now won the last three Sprint Cup Series race and nine of the last 12.

With qualifying rained out the field was set based on Friday’s first practice times. That left Hamlin to start his No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota back in 29th and he would face adversity right from the beginning when he spun on the bottom of the track on just the second lap of the day. Hamlin would fall a lap down after making a trip down pit road for four fresh tires. A lap 124 caution would allow Hamlin to use the wave around to get back on the lead lap and then another quick caution on lap 130 would allow him to hit pit road again for fresh tires. From there he would drive his way to the front of the field. He would lead for the first time on lap 240 but it was a final restart with five laps to go that Hamlin made his move for the win. Despite remaining out on the track following a caution and restarting third on older tires than many of the other leaders, Hamlin was able to drive his way to the front and held on for the final few laps for the win.

Carl Edwards started the No. 19 STANLEY Toyota in the 14th position. A pit road speeding penalty on lap 52 would force Edwards to serve a pass through penalty on lap 56 and eventually it would cause the 19 to go a lap down to the leaders. Fortunately a lap 124 caution would fall just at the right time and Edwards was able to use the wave around to get back on the lead lap after the leaders hit pit road. Another quick caution on lap 130 would allow Edwards to hit road once again for fresh tires. He would restart in 14th on lap 134. From there the No. 19 STANLEY Toyota began his climb back toward the front of the field as he entered the top ten. He would take his only lead of the day on lap 188 for six laps before a caution brought him down pit road once again. A late caution would leave Edwards to restart seventh with five laps remaining. Fighting for every spot in the Chase, the restart was aggressive up front and Edwards was able to go low and make it stick for an impressive second-place finish.

Matt Kenseth started the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota from the 12th position and would spend much of the afternoon battling tight-handling conditions as he raced just inside the top 15 for much of the afternoon. Kenseth would manage to battle all afternoon to keep his spot on the lead lap while crew chief Jason Ratcliff and the Dollar General team made adjustments to help improve the handle on the No. 20 Camry. Kenseth would restart for a final time with five laps to go in the 13th position and managed to make it stick on the bottom of the track as he drove his way into the top ten and secured an impressive fifth-place finish.

Kyle Busch started the No. 18 M&Ms Crispy Toyota in seventh and quickly advanced toward the front of the field taking his first lead of the day on lap 46. He would manage to hold that lead for the majority of the next 125 laps. He would lead four different times on the afternoon for a race-high 121 laps. The M&M’s Crispy Toyota would become tight and Busch would drop to third late in the race. A caution with eight laps to go would bring the No. 18 Camry back down pit road for four fresh tires and he would line up fifth for a final restart behind several cars that made the decision to remain out on the track under the caution. Aggressive racing at the front of the field would leave Busch in a four-wide situation following the restart and he would make contact with the outside wall. Busch was able to race to the finish but had to take care to do so and the result was a solid ninth-place run.

Hamlin captured the win, followed by Edwards, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, and Kenseth out the top five. There were six cautions for a total of 28 laps and 17 lead changes among 10 different drivers.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series continue the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship next weekend in New Hampshire. NBCSN will provide live broadcast coverage of the race starting at 2 PM ET (race begins at 2:15 PM ET) on Sunday, September 27.

Matt Kenseth Wins Richmond!

Joe Gibbs Racing entered tonight’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway having won seven of the last 10 races in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. That run of dominance would continue in tonight’s regular season finale with all four JGR entries running 1, 2, 3, 4 at one point in the race and Matt Kenseth picking up his fourth win of the season. When Kenseth took the checkered flag he was followed by teammates Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin in second and sixth respectively, while Carl Edwards just missed joining them in the top ten with an 11th-place finish.

The Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship will open next Sunday in Chicago with all four JGR teams competing for a chance to run for the title in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 10 weeks. Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth will enter the Chase with 12 bonus points courtesy of their four regular season wins (three points are awarded for each regular season win). Carl Edwards will start the playoffs with six points while Denny Hamlin has three. Sixteen total teams will open the Chase next weekend, with four teams eliminated after each three-race segment until a final four battle it out in Miami for the Championship. The first elimination will take place following the race in Dover on October 4 (New Hampshire follows Chicago).

Matt Kenseth started the No. 20 Dollar General Toyota from the outside pole but it only took 14 laps for him to take his first lead of the night. That lead was only interrupted during a round of pit stops when two cars decided to remain out on the track instead of joining the rest of the leaders on pit road. It didn’t take long for Kenseth to establish his position back on point after the restart however and he continued to dominant through the first half of the race. In fact, Kenseth would lead his teammates for a good stretch just prior to the midpoint of the race when all four JGR cars ran 1, 2, 3, 4. He would briefly give way to his teammate Busch on a restart at lap 218, but once again regained the lead just a few laps into the green flag run. A caution with 26 laps remaining would bring the leaders down pit road for a final time and Kenseth would maintain his spot on the point for the restart with 18 to go. He would go on to win in dominating fashion having led 352 of 400 laps for his fourth victory of the season.

Kyle Busch qualified the No. 18 M&Ms Crispy/American Heritage Chocolates Toyota in fourth and quickly gained a spot at the drop of the green flag to run third through the early going. Busch would continue to run third behind his teammates Kenseth and Hamlin through the halfway point of the race. He would use a great restart on the bottom of the track on lap 218 to grab his first lead of the night. Busch would give way to his teammate Kenseth nine laps later however, but continued to run inside the top five. He would restart fourth with 18 laps remaining after bring his M&M’s Crispy down pit road one final time. He would jump to the outside as the leaders hit the line and managed to go around the 43 and 22 cars to run in second behind Kenseth. Busch would go on to finish second.

Denny Hamlin started the No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota from the 25th position but quickly ascended into the top 20 and was running 18th by lap 15 and 15th by lap 25. He would continue his climb all the way through the field and took his first lead of the night following a restart on lap 126. He would give way to his teammate Kenseth on the next long green flag run but continued to hold second through the halfway mark. Hamlin would continue to battle inside the top five much of the night and lined up sixth for a restart with 18 laps remaining. He would manage to hold that position to the checkered flag.

Carl Edwards started the No. 19 ARRIS Toyota in the seventh position and was able to hold a spot in the top ten through the early going. He would run in the top five for much of the first half of the race but found the handling on his car change with tire wear on the longer green flag runs. He was running ninth at the halfway point of the race. Edwards would restart 12th on lap 218 after the team made big adjustments to his No. 19 Camry. The ARRIS Camry would continue to battle for a spot in the top ten and Edwards would come down pit road for a final time after a caution with 26 laps remaining. He would restart 11th and held that spot to the finish.

Matt Kenseth captured the win, followed by Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Aric Almirola, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. rounded out the top five. There were six cautions for a total of 47 laps and 13 lead changes among four different drivers.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will open the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship next weekend in Chicago. NBC will provide live broadcast coverage of the race starting at 2 PM ET (race begins at 3 PM ET) on Sunday, September 20.

Darlington: Edwards & ARRIS Racing Win!

Carl Edwards and the No. 19 ARRIS Toyota team completed an incredible come back from two laps down to earn a thrilling victory in tonight’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

It was another strong night across the board for Joe Gibbs Racing with Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch joining Edwards in the top ten with third and seventh-place finishes respectively. Meanwhile Matt Kenseth battled from two laps down as well and was able to get back on the lead lap before finishing 21st.

The seventh-place finish for Busch officially locks in his position for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship. The win by Edwards was the 75th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory for Toyota.

With a record-setting 18 cautions on the night, pit stops and tire conservation proved to be important down the stretch. That proved advantageous for the great pit crews of Joe Gibbs Racing as the 19 team put the ARRIS Camry out front on the final stop of the night and then Edwards did the rest to claim victory.

Carl Edwards started the No. 19 ARRIS Toyota in the 13th position and climbed his way into the top 10 over the early portion of the race. Miscommunication on the radio would lead to Edwards remaining out on the track during a round of pit stops which allowed him to restart as the leader on lap 65, but with older tires than his competitors, he would slip back in the field. Edwards would have to pit on lap 90 after falling all the way back to 30th. He would fall two laps down to the leaders in the process. He would use the wave around to get one lap back with just under 200 laps remaining. He would restart 31st on lap 195 as one of just three cars one lap down. When another caution flew on lap 207 he would be in the lucky dog position and back on the lead lap. He would line up 18th for a restart on lap 238. Edwards would run 13th with 80 laps remaining and was back inside the top ten at lap 300. He would maintain a spot in the top ten from that point on and was actually able to race as high as second on the next run before before a final caution with 13 laps remaining. The ARRIS crew would complete a tremendous stop that allowed Edwards to move from third when entering the pits to restart with the lead with eight laps to go. He would drive away over the final laps for his second win of the season.

Denny Hamlin started his No. 11 Sport Clips Toyota from the sixth position after dominating Saturday’s VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 XFINITY Series race. Hamlin patiently worked his way to the front of the field and would take his first lead of the night on lap 68. He would go on to lead the next 49 laps before giving way to the 2 car following a restart. Hamlin would fall back to fifth on the short green flag run before another caution came out on lap 121. The 11 Sport Clips team would make the call to pit for four tires and Hamlin would line up 16th for the restart on lap 125. Hamlin would race his way back inside the top 10 and a great pit stop would put the Sport Clips Camry back inside the top five to restart fourth with just under 200 laps remaining. Hamlin remained in the top five and was running third on lap 220. He would move back to the front of the field on lap 222, before another caution on lap 229. Hamlin brought his No. 11 Camry down pit road in first, but a problem with the jack cost him several spots leaving him to restart sixth on lap 238. Hamlin would battle back to the front of the field and race inside the top five. He was running fifth when a caution came out with 13 laps left. His pit crew would deliver gaining him two spots and allowing him to restart third. He would hold that spot to the finish.

Kyle Busch qualified the No. 18 M&Ms Crispy Toyota in the 10th position and was able to maintain a spot inside the top ten over the course of the first 100 laps. Busch was in the backup car for the weekend following an accident in Friday’s practice session on the slippery track at Darlington. He would restart his M&Ms Camry 14th on lap 115 and was back inside the top ten for another restart on lap 125. Another quick caution followed and Busch was up to seventh for another restart on lap 133. He would continue to hold the seventh position through another round of pit stops with 200 laps to go. The M&Ms Camry would receive right side damage with when Busch got caught up in a spin by the 16 car. Fortunately the damage to the right front of his car proved minimal and he was able to restart the race in 27th on lap 212. He would climb his way back into the top 20 in less than 10 laps. The team would elect not to pit in order to save tires and that allowed the 18 to restart in the lead with 100 laps to go. However Busch would lose ground quickly on the older tires dropping back outside the top 20 before the next caution. He would pit on the next caution for tires and this time restarted 24th with 85 laps remaining. He would gain seven spots in the first six laps back to green flag racing and was up to 14th with 70 laps to go. He would settle in to run 11th on the final green flag run of the night before a caution with 13 laps left. Busch would manage to re-enter the top ten and finish seventh to officially secure his place in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship.

Matt Kenseth started his No. 20 Dollar General Toyota from the 14th position and quickly maneuvered his way into the top ten. He was all the way up into the top five after just 18 laps but got loose on the slippery track and made contact with the outside wall. The Dollar General Camry would suffer damage to the right rear and a flat tire would force Kenseth to bring it down pit road for repairs. He would fall two laps off the pace in the process. He would get one of those laps back on lap 190 when crew chief Jason Ratcliff made the call to stay out under caution and use the wave around. He would restart 32nd on lap 195 as one of only three cars one lap down. He would eventually earn the lucky dog position when a caution came out on lap 228. That allowed Kenseth to restart 30th on lap 238. He would race his way back toward the front and restarted 11th with 85 laps remaining after staying out on the track under caution. However new tires would prove to be an enormous advantage on this night and Kenseth would fall back to 18th with 70 laps remaining. Kenseth would fight to the finish from there earning 21st-place despite the early race damage.

Edwards captured the win and was followed by Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top five. There was a Darlington race record 18 cautions on the night for a total of 89 laps and 24 lead changes among 11 different drivers.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will move to Richmond next weekend for the final race of the regular season prior to start of the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship. NBCSN will broadcast the race live from Richmond on Saturday, September 12 with coverage starting at 7 PM ET (race begins at 7:30 PM ET).

Race Report: Bristol

Joe Gibbs Racing earned three top-ten finishes in tonight’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Denny Hamlin led the way with a third-place finish, while Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch both rebounded from tire issues to finish seventh and eighth respectively. Meanwhile an engine problem ended Matt Kenseth’s night early leaving him to finish back in 42nd.

Denny Hamlin started his No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota from the pole and led the opening 26 laps of the night before giving way to his teammate in the 18. He would continue to run at the front of the field and managed to regain the lead once again on lap 53. He would lead a total of 54 laps on the night and was running fifth at the halfway mark. The FedEx crew would deliver a great stop on pit road allowing Hamlin to restart second with 135 laps remaining. He would restart second again after another quick caution on lap on lap 379. Hamlin restarted third with 110 laps to go. He would hold that spot through a final round of pit stops all the way to the checkered flag.

Carl Edwards started the No. 19 STANLEY Toyota in the third position and was able to hold a spot in the top five through the opening green flag run. Shortly after the first round of pit stops Edwards would report that the car had become tight and he would drop back to run 10th. However, it didn’t take the 19 team long to get the car back to the front of the field and he would eventually take the lead following a round of pit stops after a caution just past the halfway mark on lap 253. He would give the top spot to his teammate early in the ensuing green flag run, but he would eventually reclaim it on lap 303. Edwards continued to lead when suddenly a flat tire forced him down the track and on to pit road. He would have to quickly make his way to his pit stall on lap 343 for fresh tires. A caution would quickly follow allowing him to take the wave around to get one of the two laps back. He would race for the lucky dog position to get back on the lead lap and was able to claim that position when a caution came out with 69 laps remaining. Edwards would manage to drive his way back inside the top ten over the final green flag run to earn a seventh-place finish.

Kyle Busch qualified the No. 18 Skittles Toyota in the second position and was fast from the outset as he assumed his first lead of the night on lap 27. He would run inside five through the first half of the race but found the handling on his No. 18 Camry to drop off a bit during the longer green flag runs. A caution just after the halfway point brought the Skittles Toyota back down pit road and shortly after the restart he was able to establish his position back at the front of the field on lap 281. Busch was running third when he would radio in that he believed he had a loose wheel forcing him to make an unscheduled pit stop on lap 340. He would drop two laps off the pace, but was able to race his way back around the leaders to get within one lap. A caution on lap 360 allowed him to get back on the lead lap. He would restart 12th when another caution quickly followed and crew chief Adam Stevens would bring him down pit road for four tires and fuel. A series of cautions would leave Busch to restart ninth with 110 laps to go. He would quickly move back inside the top five and claim fourth with 100 laps remaining. Busch would come down pit road a final time with just over 60 laps to go and NASCAR ruled that the 18 was too fast. The pit road speeding penalty would send Busch to the back of the field for the restart. He would manage to pass all the cars a lap or more down and then started to pass cars for position. After leading a race-high 192 laps, he would show tremendous resolve to earn an eighth-place finish which improved his position in the point standings. He is now 46 points in front of 31st place.

Matt Kenseth, who won the spring race earlier this year at Bristol, started his No. 20 Dollar General Toyota from the 13th position and showed early speed as he quickly ascended into the top ten. Kenseth was running inside the top five as the race went past the 100-lap mark. Not long after however Kenseth would radio in to crew chief Jason Ratcliff that something appeared to break in the engine. Kenseth would take his Dollar General Camry to the garage and his night was over. He would be scored back in 42nd.

Joey Logano captured the win and was followed by Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top five. There were eight cautions on the night for a total of 52 laps and 14 lead changes among five different drivers.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will take its final weekend off of the 2015 season before heading to Darlington Raceway on Sunday night, September 6. NBCSN will broadcast the race live with coverage starting at 7 PM ET (race begins at 7:30 PM ET).

Matt Kenseth Wins at Michigan!

It was another strong performance for Joe Gibbs Racing with Matt Kenseth dominating from the pole for his third win of the season in today’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

JGR narrowly missed securing four top-ten finishes today with Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch spending a good portion of the afternoon toward the front of the field. Hamlin would finish fifth, while Edwards was sixth, and Busch worked his way through a tricky final restart to finish 11th.

A new aero package made its debut today at Michigan and although teams were able to gather a good deal of information over the course of the previous two days of practice there remained a good deal of unknowns under race conditions. JGR appeared to have the answers for those unknowns with Kenseth leading a race-high 146 laps after starting from the pole.

Matt Kenseth captured the pole in his No. 20 Dollar General Toyota enabling him to lead the field to the green flag for the start of this afternoon’s race in Michigan. Despite several early race restarts Kenseth was able to maintain the lead through the opening 22 laps before a competition caution was displayed. He would restart second when the 3 car decided to remain on the track and held that position through the next green flag run until the leader was forced to pit for fuel on lap 41 giving the lead back to the 20 car. Kenseth continued to hold onto the top spot through the next two rounds of green flag pit stops and was the leader on lap 121 when a caution came out. Crew chief Jason Ratcliff would bring the Dollar General Camry down pit road for a two-tire stop on lap 123. He would lineup third for the restart behind two cars that elected not to pit. Kenseth would use a great restart to reclaim the lead on lap 126 just before another caution came out. He would hold the lead again through the lap 130 restart and again on another restart on lap 142. Kenseth would come down pit road under green on lap 164 and once the field cycled through he was back on point with 25 laps to go. He would restart on the point again with 13 to go and never looked back on his way to the victory.

Denny Hamlin started the No. 11 FedEx Freight Toyota from the second position and had to endure several early race restarts from the inside lane which proved to be a disadvantage all afternoon. He would drop back to run sixth when a competition caution was displayed on lap 22. He would get shuffled back on the ensuing restart and ran 11th on the next green flag run. Hamlin held on to the 11th position at lap 67 following a round of green flag pit stops. The FedEx Camry was running fifth following another round of green flag pit stops when a caution came out on lap 121. Crew chief Dave Rogers would make the call for a two-tire stop on lap 123 allowing Hamlin to restart fifth on lap 126. Another quick caution would follow and Hamlin would run fourth under the green flag on lap 130. He would fall back two slots to run sixth following a lap 142 restart. Hamlin would pit under green on lap 164 and once the field cycled through he was fourth once again with 25 laps to go. He would line up behind his teammate Kenseth for a final restart with 13 to go and was able to help push the 20 to the front before dropping back to finish fifth.

Carl Edwards started the No. 19 ARRIS Toyota in the third position and had to endure several early race restarts from the inside lane which proved to be a disadvantage all afternoon. He would run seventh when a competition caution was displayed at lap 22. He would continue to run seventh at lap 43 and was running ninth at lap 67 following a round of green flag pit stops. Edwards had the ARRIS Camry in eighth when a caution came out on lap 121. Crew chief Darian Grubb would make the call to have Edwards remain on the track under the caution allowing him to restart as the leader on lap 126. He would fall back to third on the restart when another caution came out. This time when the race restarted on lap 130 Edwards would make a bold move to the bottom of the track to take over second. While under caution on lap 141 Edwards would lose power while attempting to save fuel. That would cost him several positions and left the 19 to restart 11th instead of second on lap 142. Edwards would use a great restart and was back up to fourth by lap 146. He would run sixth with 25 laps remaining following another round of green flag pit stops. Edwards would continue to run sixth following a restart with 13 laps remaining and was able to hold that spot to the finish.

Kyle Busch qualified the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota in the sixth position but an accident in Saturday’s final practice forced the team to move to the backup car resulting in having to start from the back of the field. Busch would make the call to hang off the back of the field for initial start of the race and that proved to be a good decision as he was able to avoid a wreck on the opening lap of the race. He would survive several early restarts in fact, and was up to 33 by lap 20. He would climb his way inside the top 30 following a restart on lap 25 and was running 20th just 30 laps into the afternoon. Busch was up to 15th on lap 43. He would lead during a round of green flag pit stops and then settled in to run 14th once the field cycled through. The Interstate Batteries Camry would enter the top five for the first time following a restart on lap 77. He would run as high as third on that green flag run and was back into third again on lap 118 following another round of green flag stops. Crew chief Adam Stevens would make the call for a four-tire stop on lap 123. With several other leaders making the call for just two tires or electing not to pit at all, Busch would line up 14th for the restart on lap 126. He would be back in the top ten following another restart on lap 130. Stevens would bring him back down pit road for fuel only on lap 137 and the Interstate Batteries Camry lined up 14th for the restart. He would climb into the top 10 to run ninth at lap 146. He would hold that 10th position with 25 laps to go following yet another round of green flag stops and was up to ninth when another caution came out with 18 laps remaining. He would restart ninth with 13 to go but was forced into the middle of a three-wide situation and had to drop back into 13th to avoid any big wrecks. Busch would gain two spots to finish 11th. The solid finish moved Busch into 29th in the point standings and he is now 18 points ahead of 30th, which is needed to secure his place in the Chase for the NASCAR Championship.

Kenseth captured the win and was followed by Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex, Jr., Austin Dillon and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top five. There were eight cautions on the afternoon for a total of 31 laps and 16 lead changes among eight different drivers.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will head to Bristol Motor Speedway next Saturday night, August 22. NBCSN will broadcast the race live with coverage starting at 7 PM ET (race begins at 7:30 PM ET).