DENNY HAMLIN SURVIVES BRISTOL

Tony Stewart Was Roughed Up at Bristol

Defending Ford 400 winner, Tony Stewart, moved his No. 14 car into first on the outside, before Matt Kenseth's No. 17 Ford slipped up the banking and into Stewart. Kenseth pulled away from the wreck, but Stewart climbed out of his No. 14 and with a two-handed hurl, Stewart threw his helmet into the front of Kenseth's Fusion as it left pit road (photo courtesy: Jeff Zelevansky, GETTY IMAGES SPORT)

Denny Hamlin scored his third win of the season, and first at Bristol, when he took the checkered flag in Race 24 of 36 en route to NASCAR’s series-crowning Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 16-18. Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 16-18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are available now. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.

Hamlin held off Jimmie Johnson at the checkered flag to cap a wild night of racing. Hamlin muscled his way around Carl Edwards for the top spot on Lap 462 and picked up his 20th career win, helping solidify his Chase chances.

Hamlin would now share the number one seed in the playoffs with Johnson, Brad Keselowski and Tony Stewart with only two races remaining before the start of the Chase For The Sprint Cup. The Chase will consist of the Top 10 drivers in points plus the two drivers from 11th to 20th with the most wins. Tickets for this year’s Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 16-18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are on sale NOW. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.

"I was telling (crew chief) Darian (Grubb) the more things we hit the faster we went," said Hamlin.

Five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Johnson bounced back from last week's Michigan engine failure for a second-place finish.

“We messed up in practice and had to start in the back,” said Johnson. “We had a bad pit stall and no track position. But, we really had a great strategy and fast car and made the most of it today.”

Matt Kenseth and defending series champion Stewart crashed while racing for the lead on Lap 332.Stewart hurled his helmet at Kenseth’s car as he passed under caution and then fist-pumped the crowd before getting into the ambulance for the mandatory ride to the medical center.

“We got by Matt there, and it probably wasn’t the ideal pass, but we made sure to try the same thing,” said Stewart. “We ran on the restart faster than him each lap, so we just learned our lesson that next time just drive through him, not even be patient by him. We’re not going to give him that chance again.”

Kenseth said there has been some tension between the two drivers since Indianapolis.

“He’s already had two in this series he’s pretty much taken us out of and I told him after Indy I was gonna race him the way he raced me and I did the exact same thing down there that he did down there – the exact same thing, except he didn’t give it to me,” said Kenseth. “I guess he just wanted to do all the taking, so that’s where we ended up.”

Greg Biffle, Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. each clinched a spot in the Chase which will culminate at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 18. Tickets for this year’s Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 16-18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are on sale NOW. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.

Despite finishing 19th Saturday night at Bristol, Biffle still holds an 11-point advantage over Johnson, who finished second with only two races remaining before the start of the Chase For The Sprint Cup. The Chase will consist of the Top 10 drivers in points plus the two drivers from 11th to 20th with the most wins. Tickets for this year’s Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 16-18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are on sale NOW. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.

“It feels really good to be locked in with two races to go,” Biffle said. “It was a tough night here, but we did lock ourselves in and still have the point lead. This wasn’t the run we were looking for. We pitted at the end to try and make the car better and learn something, but it was probably the wrong thing to do because we lost about eight spots. We weren’t gonna win, so we thought we might as well try what we can.”

For Earnhardt, who holds a four-point advantage over Kenseth, the night could have ended very differently. The No. 88 team made a costly mistake on Lap 347 when Earnhardt pitted before pit road was open. But Earnhardt had a solid car and soldiered back to a 12th-place finish.

This will be Earnhardt’s fifth Chase appearance. He says qualifying into NASCAR’s playoffs early will allow the driver the opportunity “to race” in the next two events.

“I feel good about it,” Earnhardt said. “We worked real hard all season and I want to thank my guys. They do a good job every week and give me good strategy. I made a little mistake and came down a closed pit (road) tonight (laughs). I don’t know what we were thinking.

"But we had a fast car. The car was so fast at the start of the race. We just lost that track position and couldn’t get by some guys. I had fun, though. I don’t know what the fans thought about the race. But I really enjoyed it.”

Next up for the Sprint Cup Series drivers is Atlanta on Sunday, September 2 (6:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) — en route to Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 16-18). Tickets for Ford Championship Weekend—Nov. 16-18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway—are available now. For ticket information, click [HERE] or call (866) 409-RACE.

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