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Hamlin edges Larson at Dover for third NASCAR Cup win of 2024

Denny Hamlin flexed his Toyota’s muscle in the second half of the Würth 400 Sunday afternoon to win the NASCAR Cup Series race at Dover Motor Speedway.

In the lone race in Dover, Delaware this season, Hamlin’s No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota gained the lead with a super fast pit stop after Stage 2 and held off Hendrick Motorsports’ Kyle Larson by 0.256 seconds for his third win of 2024, tying him with Hendrick’s William Byron for the series lead.

The victory was Hamlin’s 54th, tying him with Lee Petty for 12th all-time.

‘Just a great team,’ Hamlin said when asked how he won. ‘All the guys on the wall right here, they’re the ones who make it happen. Thank you to them, (crew chief) Chris Gabehart, the whole team for just giving me great cars.’

Larson got within two-tenths of a second of Hamlin but said he could not muster the run to pass him.

‘(Nothing I could do) in the last 10 (laps),’ said Larson, who notched his fifth top-five finish. ‘I could pace it and get closer to him at the end of the runs, but it’s so easy to air-block … as the leader at a place like this to shut off the air on the guys behind you.’

Completing the top-five finishers were Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott.

After claiming his second career Dover pole on Saturday, Busch raced out and led the first 33 laps around the one-mile layout in the 120-lap Stage 1 until Ryan Blaney grabbed the point in his No. 12 Ford.

On Lap 79, Byron positioned his No. 24 Chevrolet past Blaney, the defending series champion, and Truex took the lead as the 72-lap green-flag run came to an end after Brad Keselowski spun his No. 6 Ford following a right-rear tire problem.

Truex, who started 15th, earned the full bonus points by taking his fifth career stage win at the Monster Mile under caution. Byron and Tyler Reddick followed him to the line.

The event’s defending winner who won last May when the race was postponed to Monday, Truex had little trouble putting separation between himself and Byron, leading by 2.61 seconds on Lap 180 before green-flag pit stops began.

But Byron’s car was dropped from the jack without one of the tires bolted on, and Larson’s stop was four seconds faster than Truex’s.

That put Larson’s No. 5 ahead of Truex’s No. 19 Toyota, but Corey LaJoie chose not to pit and led 33 circuits until Larson passed him on Lap 219.

Larson earned the Stage 2 win over Hendrick teammate Alex Bowman, but hard-charging Hamlin finished third and won the ensuing race off pit road to lead for the first time.

Bubba Wallace, Byron and Christopher Bell were involved in the day’s worst wreck on Lap 329 after Zane Smith turned Wallace’s No. 23 Toyota off Turn 2.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY

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