Dale Money | November 11th, 2019
Needing to get one of the last two spots, Denny Hamlin would put on a very decisive performance in Phoenix. Earning himself the victory along with a seat at the Final Four table in Homestead. Hamlin had one of the quickest cars all day, topping most laps led with 143.
Blaney makes it interesting
As the race began to wind down, Hamlin looked poised to collect the win with no real issues. However, a caution with just nine laps left put a halt to the celebrations. During the final round of pit stops, he would decide to gamble and go with two tires. Ryan Blaney another playoff contender, who also needed the win in order to give himself a shot at the final four would run alongside him on the last restart.
Having not had a great day with the restarts, Hamlin was still able to keep his composure getting the jump needed to put him out front. Teammate Kyle Busch would be able to bypass Blaney, giving the No. 11 plenty of cushion. They would finish one-two. Rounding out the top ten was Blaney, Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick, Martin Truex Jr, Erik Jones, Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano, and Brad Keselowski.
Hamlin joins Truex Jr, Harvick, and Busch as the four drivers that have qualified for next Sunday’s title race. This gives Joe Gibbs Racing, a 75 percent chance of walking away with the trophy. It’s in fact been five years since Hamlin’s last trip to the final four. The season, Harvick collected his first and only championship.
Logano has a tough day
Getting to this year’s Final Four certainly wasn’t going to be easy, after wrecking out last week in Texas and putting himself behind the eight ball. He would come into the race 20 points below the cut-off line, needing to leapfrog either Logano or Busch for one of those final two spots. Starting on the front row, Logano would come out of the gate strong, winning stage one along with leading 63 of the laps. For a chunk of the race, he looked very competitive leading the second-most laps on the day with 93.
However, as the race wore on problems began to arise for the No. 22. Around lap 200, he would begin to suffer problems, one of his complaints would be that the car felt very tight and would not turn properly. On lap 239 back in the 11th spot, he would eventually get lapped by race leader Hamlin. As the problems persisted, it just made getting back on the lead lap all the more difficult.
It would take until that final caution, to eventually get back on the lead lap through the wave around. After the race, Logano didn’t seem to have any answers for the media, in regards to his car’s inexplicable drop in performance.
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Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images