NASCAR: Denny Hamlin Takes the Checkered Flag at First Playoff Race at Darlington Raceway

by Jonathan Howard

Today was the beginning of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. Denny Hamlin began the postseason strong with a win in the Cookout Southern 500. Over the course of the day, the track was unforgiving. Multiple drivers were taken out early due to wrecks. The walls close in on drivers at Darlington Raceway.

After winning the regular-season title, Kyle Larson had a strong day and took the win in the second stage. After taking the win in the first stage, Denny Hamlin came back strong in the final to take the win as well. It was a strong day of racing from the season’s best drivers. Larson and Hamlin put a show on down the line.

When it was all said and done, the checkered flag did come out amid all the yellow cautions. Things got fast and clean down the last 30 laps or so. Hamlin, Larson, and Ross Chastain battled down the final 20 laps to decide the winner.

Denny Hamlin Survives Darlington

Today, Denny Hamlin was lucky to make it to the final checkered flag, let alone win. Darlington Raceway is unlike any other. It has its quirks and issues. So, there were drivers who found themselves going into the walls early in this race. Stage one started with drama and smoke.

Michael McDowell spun out on the track after racing a little wide. As McDowell and others came around the turn, he lost control and found himself going into the wall. He would not return to the race and is looking forward to Richmond Raceway. That’s a good attitude to have.

While Ryan Blaney was the winner of the last two regular-season races he was nowhere near the lead by the end of this one. He took the win in Michigan and Daytona but spun out in the final stage before the checkered flag today. As the race was getting to the nitty-gritty, his brakes went out on him. The issue caused him to spin out.

One of the top regular-season drivers, Chase Elliott, soon found himself slamming into the wall. It was looking like a great weekend for Elliott after appearing on ESPN’s College Gameday. His Bulldogs got the win over Clemson, but he wasn’t able to take the win in Darlington.

Unfortunately, Elliott did not return to the race after his wreck either. It was an evening of caution flags until it wasn’t. Classic NASCAR postseason. Denny Hamlin begins the playoffs with a huge win. The tone has been set early. Drivers will be looking to make big moves as the postseason continues.