Hamlin beats rookie Byron in thrilling photo finish at Michigan

Hamlin beats rookie Byron in thrilling photo finish at Michigan

Denny Hamlin beat William Byron by 0.012-seconds — the closest Xfinity Series finish in Michigan International Speedway history.

Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, William Byron, JR Motorsports Chevrolet, crosses the checkered flag
Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, William Byron, JR Motorsports Chevrolet
Race winner Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota
William Byron, JR Motorsports Chevrolet
William Byron, JR Motorsports Chevrolet

Hamlin scored his second NXS win at the two-mile track on Saturday and his 16th career Xfinity victory.

"The Camry was fast all day,” Hamlin said. “I didn’t want that caution at the end. Really proud of this team. The pit stops were awesome. It definitely feels good.”

Sadler, the series points leader, finished third followed by Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Ty Dillon, Paul Menard, Ryan Reed, Brand on Jones and Cole Custer.

For Byron, second-place was a career-best finish. 

“We were so close,” Byron said. “It hurts to be that close and not get the win. We’ll get one soon. This is how we need to run and we’ll keep running like this.” 

Elliott Sadler led the field to green for the final stage and led 13 laps before Keselowski passed him on Lap 71. Hamlin was second followed by Byron, Ty Dillon, Menard, Kyle Busch, Tyler Reddick, Custer and Daniel Hemric.

With 45 laps remaining in the race, Keselowski held the point with a five-car length advantage over Sadler. Hamlin, Byron, Ty Dillon, Menard, Busch, Reddick, Custer and Hemric rounded out the top 10. On Lap 82, Byron passed Hamlin just prior to the fifth caution was called for debris in Turn 1.

Keselowski had led 54 laps when he pitted on Lap 85. Sadler was second followed by Byron, Hamlin, Ty Dillon, Menard, Busch, Reddick, Custer, Ryan Reed, Hemrick, Poole, Ryan Sieg and Spencer Gallagher. Dylan Lupton was penalized after his jack man came over the wall too soon. Allgaier had an extended stop after his hood was flapping on the last run. The team taped down the hood and he dropped to 26th with 28 cars on the lead lap.

Hamlin led the field to green on Lap 88 followed by Keselowski, Reed, Ty Dillon, Menard, Custer, Byron, Poole, Matt Tifft and Brandon Jones. Brendan Gaughan, Sadler, Busch, Reddick and Hemric rounded out the top 15.

After the first lap, Hamlin held the point with Dillon second, Keselowski third and Custer fourth. Menard passed Custer on the next lap and the No. 00 dropped to fifth followed by Byron, Sadler, Poole, Jones and Tifft.

On Lap 92, Keselowski moved up to second with the Richard Childress Racing Chevys of Dillon and Menard in tow. Byron ran fifth followed by his JR Motorsports teammate Sadler.

With 30 laps remaining, Hamlin held a 1.371-second lead over Keselowski. Twenty-seven cars were still on the lead lap. On Lap 102, Sadler, who took four tires on his pit stop, passed Ty Dillon for fifth.

Hamlin extended his advantage over Keselowski to 2.2-seconds with 20 laps to go. Menard was third followed by Byron, Sadler, Dillon, Custer, Poole, Busch and Tifft. Byron passed Menard on the next lap for third. Hamlin rolled out to a three-second lead with 15 laps to decide the contest. 

“He did a great job and really I knew he had a really good car,” Hamlin said of Byron. “That last long run that we had, he was about to pass me, so he’s done a great job. Obviously, he’s one of NASCAR’s next future superstars and I wanted to race him clean. I wasn’t going to turn him around or anything like that, so stayed low below him and got him a little bit loose through 1 and 2 that allowed me to get position and then into Turn 3 we both got sideways, he slid up just enough to let me barely get to that left rear and it was just enough to drag race past him, so proud of this team. Great that we got a win.”

Shootout to the finish

NASCAR called caution 6 for debris in Turn 3 with 14 laps remaining. Hamlin, Keselowski, Byron, Menard, Sadler, Dillon, Custer, Poole, Busch, Tifft, Hemric, Gaughan, Reed, Reddick and Jones filled out the top 15 with 25 cars on the lead lap.

Hamlin led the field to green with nine laps remaining in the race. With a push from Byron, Keselowski moved to the front but the No. 9 came dove low for the lead on Lap 117. Hamlin was second followed by Keselowski, Menard, Sadler, Dillon, Poole, Custer, Tifft and Busch.

Sadler passed Menard for fourth on Lap 118. Two laps later, Tifft, who had dropped to 12th, spun off of Turn 4 after Hemric took the air off of the back of his car. Byron had a half-second lead over Hamlin. Keselowski, Sadler, Menard, Dillon, Poole, Custer, Busch and Reed rounded out the top 10.

Byron held the point with two laps to decide the race. With a push from his teammate Sadler, he shot out to two-car lengths over Hamlin at the line. On the backstretch, Hamlin came on the inside of Byron and took the lead at the line.

“I wanted to race him clean, I didn’t want to push him,” Hamlin said of Byron.

There were 10 lead changes among five drivers. Keselowski’s 54 laps were the most led. Sadler extended his point lead by 21 over Allgaier.

Stage 2

A late-stage caution played into Elliott Sadler’s hands on Saturday as he rode to the Stage 2 win.

Sadler was running third behind Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin when NASCAR called a yellow for debris with three laps remaining in the stage.

“We had to be aggressive and do something different than Brad and Denny,” Sadler said. “We had to take that chance to get that point for playoff time. We’re in the point lead, we can afford to be aggressive." 

Brennan Poole, Justin Allgaier, Brendan Gaughan, Blake Koch, Brandon Jones, Ross Chastain, Denny Hamlin, Cole Custer and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top10.

Cole Custer led the field to green on Lap 38 after moving to the point with a two-tire pit stop between segments. Justin Allgaier and Brennan Poole were on the same strategy and restarted second and third, respectively. Denny Hamlin was the first car off of pit road on four tire and restarted fourth followed by Elliott Sadler, Brad Keselowski, Daniel Hemric, Paul Menard, Ryan Reed, Tyler Reddick and William Byron.

Before the first lap was completed, Brandon Jones spun off of Turn 2 and collected Michael Annett, Ben Kennedy, BJ McLeod, Dylan Lupton and JJ Yeley to ignite the third caution of the race.

Custer retained the lead followed by Allgaier, Hamlin, Keselowski, Sadler, Poole, Menard, Reddick, Ty Dillon and Hemric. Brandon Brown was the beneficiary when the race returned to green on Lap 44. There were 28 cars on the lead lap. 

Custer led lap 45 with Keselowski, Hamlin, Reddick, Sadler and Poole in tow. Sadler moved up to fourth on Lap 46. Keselowski took the lead from Custer at the start-finish line on Lap 49. Hamlin followed to second in Turn 4. Custer remained third followed by Sadler, Reddick, Poole, Byron, Allgaier, Hemric and Menard.

With 10 laps remaining in the segment, Keselowski’s lead was 0.192-seconds over Hamlin. Sadler was third followed by Custer, Reddick, Byron, Poole, Allgaier, Menard and Hemric. Busch, who was the last car on the lead lap (P27) recovered to 17th.

NASCAR called a quicky yellow for debris in Turn 4 on Lap 57. Keselowski, Hamlin, Custer, Reddick, Byron and Hemric pitted. Sadler was the first car to stay out followed by Poole, Allgaier, Brendan Gaughan, Blake Koch, Brandon Jones and Ross Chastain.

Hamlin, the first car off of pit road, lined up 10th followed by Custer, Keselowski, Reddick, Byron and Hemric. Menard was penalized for improper fueling. Garrett Smithley had an uncontrolled tire. The stage ended under yellow. Sadler remained on the track while Poole, Allgaier, Gaughan, Koch, Jones and Chastain pitted.

Stage 1

Keselowski led all 30 laps en route to winning the first stage of Saturday’s Irish Hills 250. 

He beat Denny Hamlin to the line by 1.725-seconds. Elliott Sadler, Paul Menard and William Byron rounded out the top-five finishers.

“I’m not really sure what happened there,” Kesleowski said of the start. “I got a little bit of a run and was trying to make a pass and it was too late.”

Keselowski ran into the back of polesitter Kyle Busch just as the leaders crossed the start line on the first lap. Busch was weaving back and forth and moved up the track while Keselowski was getting up to speed.

NASCAR called the caution before the cars entered Turn 1. Keselowski assumed the lead followed by Elliott Sadler, William Byron, Denny Hamlin, Tyler Reddick, Spencer Gallagher, Cole Custer, Paul Menard, Michael Annett and Matt Tifft when the race returned to green on Lap 5.

By Lap 10, Keselowski’s advantage over Hamlin was 0.975-seconds. Sadler, Menardy, Byron, Gallagher, Reddick, Custer, Justin Allgaier and Ty Dillon rounded out the top 10.

On Lap 15, Daniel Hemric, who had to start at the rear of the field for unapproved adjustments, was 20th. Ben Kennedy, who qualified 12th, but also dropped to rear after a tire change prior to the start moved up to 24th. Following repairs to the No. 18, Busch was also in the top 25.

With 10 laps remaining, Keselowski held the point. Hamline was second followed by Sadler, Menard and Byron. Reddick, Gallagher, Custer, Ty Dillon and Allgaier completed the top 10.

Busch was back up to 20th with five laps remaining in the stage. Keselowski’s had nearly a two-second lead over Hamlin. Ty Dillon passed Custer for eighth.

Tyler Reddick finished sixth in the stage followed by Spencer Gallagher, Ty Dillon, Cole Custer and Justin Allgaier. Twenty-eight cars remained on the lead lap. Hemric and Busch recovered to 17th and 18th, respectively. Kennedy was 22nd.

Custer, Allgaier and Brennan Poole took two tires on the first stop to move to the front of the pack.

Cla#DriverManufacturerLapsTimeLaps Led
1 20 united_states Denny Hamlin  Toyota 125 2:00'27 34
2 9 united_states William Byron  Chevrolet 125 0.012 8
3 1 united_states Elliott Sadler  Chevrolet 125 0.191 14
4 22 united_states Brad Keselowski  Ford 125 0.534 54
5 18 united_states Kyle Busch  Toyota 125 1.262 1
6 3 united_states Ty Dillon  Chevrolet 125 1.599  
7 2 united_states Paul Menard  Chevrolet 125 1.645  
8 16 united_states Ryan Reed  Ford 125 2.243  
9 33 united_states Brandon Jones  Chevrolet 125 2.412  
10 00 united_states Cole Custer  Ford 125 2.502 15
11 48 united_states Brennan Poole  Chevrolet 125 2.855  
12 21 united_states Daniel Hemric  Chevrolet 125 2.880  
13 42 united_states Tyler Reddick  Chevrolet 125 2.928  
14 62 united_states Brendan Gaughan  Chevrolet 125 3.004  
15 39 united_states Ryan Sieg  Chevrolet 125 3.385  
16 7 united_states Justin Allgaier  Chevrolet 125 3.394  
17 11 united_states Blake Koch  Chevrolet 125 3.769  
18 23 united_states Spencer Gallagher  Chevrolet 125 3.956  
19 4 united_states Ross Chastain  Chevrolet 125 4.054  
20 28 united_states Dakoda Armstrong  Toyota 125 4.349  
21 99 united_states David Starr  Chevrolet 125 4.717  
22 01 united_states Harrison Rhodes  Chevrolet 125 4.778  
23 51 united_states Jeremy Clements  Chevrolet 125 5.164  
24 24 united_states Dylan Lupton  Toyota 125 5.184  
25 52 united_states Joey Gase  Chevrolet 124 1 lap  
26 19 united_states Matt Tifft  Toyota 124 1 lap  
27 40 united_states Josh Bilicki  Toyota 123 2 laps  
28 78 united_states Tommy Joe Martins  Chevrolet 122 3 laps  
29 0 united_states Garrett Smithley  Chevrolet 122 3 laps  
30 8 united_states B.J. McLeod  Chevrolet 122 3 laps  
31 07 united_states Korbin Forrister  Chevrolet 122 3 laps  
32 74 united_states Mike Harmon  Dodge 120 5 laps  
33 90 united_states Brandon Brown  Chevrolet 118 7 laps  
34 92 united_states Josh Williams  Chevrolet 66 59 laps  
35 93 united_states Jeff Green  Chevrolet 44 81 laps  
36 96 united_states Ben Kennedy  Chevrolet 41 84 laps  
37 5 united_states Michael Annett  Chevrolet 37 88 laps  
38 14 united_states J.J. Yeley  Toyota 37 88 laps  
39 13 united_states Timmy Hill  Chevrolet 20 105 laps  
40 89 united_states Morgan Shepherd  Chevrolet 19 106 laps

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