Denny Hamlin made a comeback from two penalties during the day to take the win in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500.

The driver of the No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry received his second penalty of the day after his pitstop during the stage break for an uncontrolled tire and was forced to the rear of the field.

Hamlin had pitted with the majority of the field while Ryan Blaney stayed out to take the lead with Daniel Suarez alongside.

Blaney broke away from Daniel Suarez at the Lap 178 restart and led the next 45 laps with no competition.

He pitted on Lap 218 with Suarez following suit a lap later.

It all came apart for Blaney on Lap 227 when smoke suddenly billowed out of his No. 12 Team Penske Ford Mustang. The team diagnosed the problem as terminal, and he retired from the race.

That moved Kyle Busch back into the lead for 18 laps until he pitted on Lap 238 which handed the lead back to Suarez.

Busch kept Suarez in his sights and used lapped traffic to his advantage to retake the lead on Lap 246. He stayed in the top spot until Daniel Hemric’s spin in Turn 2 brought out the caution flag on Lap 255.

Three drivers – Aric Almirola, Erik Jones and Chase Elliott – stayed out under the yellow as the remainder of the field pitted. Busch won the race off pit road and lined up fourth when the race restarted on Lap 261.

Jones quickly moved past Almirola for the lead as Busch followed his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate into second place.

He then retook the lead with an inside move on the front stretch two laps later on Lap 263.

Luck suddenly turned the other way for Busch as he got loose in Turns 1 and two on Lap 276 and allowed Jones to sneak past. Hamlin and Almirola moved their way past as Busch fell back to forth.

It went from bad to worse for Busch as he hit the wall in Turn 2 a few laps later and pitted under green which cost him a lap.

Jones held the lead until Lap 302 when he ducked down pit road to make his final stop of the day. Hamlin retook the lead at that point trailed by Clint Bowyer, William Byron, Jimmie Johnson and Suarez.

Hamlin ducked down pit road for the final time on Lap 319 and returned to the track quickly with a fuel-only stop.

Bowyer pitted a lap later and returned to the track nearly two seconds in arrears to Hamlin.

After the final drivers made their stops, Hamlin re-cycled back to the front and never fluttered to the checkered flag.

Hamlin noted in victory lane that overcoming the two penalties was possible because he had a fast car.

“I had a fast car that could pass anyone in the field,” he said.

"It definitely a different type of racing, with the draft and everything and trying to get out of everyone's wake. I'm proud of this team, everyone that helps put this race car on the race track.”

"Once we got out front, we were actually able to pull away from the front a little bit. We just had a super-fast car and that's why we won. We tried everything we could to throw it away but we still found a way to win."

The win is Hamlin’s second of the year, the first coming at the Daytona 500.

Bowyer’s second-place finish comes following a qualifying hiccup on Friday left him starting in 25th place. Suarez had his best run of the season so far in third and completed a Stewart Haas Racing sweep of positions two and three.

Jones hung on to fourth while Jimmie Johnson recovered from an up and down day to round out the Top Five.

Byron claimed his best finish of the year in sixth followed by the remaining Stewart Haas Racing Ford Mustangs of Aric Almirola in seventh and Kevin Harvick in eighth.

Kurt Busch picked up 21 spots to finish ninth and score his fifth top ten of the season while his younger brother Kyle managed to salvage tenth after hitting the wall earlier.

Team Penske as a whole had a down day starting with Stage 1 winner Joey Logano. The defending series champion saw his hopes for a win dashed when the hood broke loose on his No. 22 Shell Ford Mustang. The damage slowed him down and he finished 17nd, one lap off the pace.

Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney both had mechanical problems and finished 36th and 37th, respectively.

 

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