It was a surprising night, but there would be no Cinderella story at the end.
Denny Hamlin has won the Bass Pro Shops/NRA Night Race at Bristol Motorspeedway for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The 11 FedEx Freight Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing would take the lead to win from the pole. This is Hamlins fourth win of the season, his second at Bristol, and the 35th of his career. Hamlin led 79 laps.
One of Hamlin’s teammates Kyle Busch was a lap down early on at a track that he has dominated in the past, but would lead 30 laps and finish fourth in the 18 M&M’s Toyota. Martin Truex Jr., in the 19 Tracker Off Road/Bass Pro Shops Toyota, led 52 laps and finished 13th. Erik Jones in the 20 Stanley Toyota finished 22nd leading 23 laps.
Two of the three Team Penske cars finished in the top ten. Brad Keselowski, in the 2 Miller Lite Ford Mustang, finished third, leading 91 laps. Ryan Blaney, in the 12 Dent Wizard Ford, and Joey Logano, in the 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford, finished 16th.
Chip Ganassi had strong cars all night long, but were just short of the win. Kyle Larson in the 42 Credit One Bank Chevrolet Camaro, claimed stage one, led 62 laps and finished sixth. Last year’s winner, Kurt Busch, in the 1 Monster Energy Chevy, won stage two, led nine laps, and finished ninth.
Stewart Haas Racing had a weird night that was just crazy. Clint Bowyer in the 14 Peak Lighting Ford spun out, finished seventh, but is now two points out of that last playoff spot. Daniel Suárez in the 41 Haas Ford finished eighth. Aric Almirola wrecked twice in the 10 Smithfield Ford finishing 29th. Kevin Harvick in the 4 Busch Beer Ford looked like he was going to win as he was leading at the time. However, a clutch failure ended his night as he finished last (39th).
Matt DiBenedetto was the underdog coming in. It was announced the same week before Bristol that he would not return to Leavine Family Racing. During driver introductions, he came out in a rocky uniform with the rocky theme playing. The 95 Toyota Maintenance Toyota led a race high 93 laps and looked like he was going to get that first career win. That is until he made contact with the 6 Acronis Ford of Ryan Newman for Roush- Fenway Racing who was blocking the leader trying not to go a lap down. That would ruin his night as Hamlin would pass him for the win.
The next race will be the Bojangles Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway where we will see which better throwback paint scheme wins.
Bass Pro Shops/NRA Night Race Results
- Denny Hamlin 11 FedEx Freight Toyota Camry Joe Gibbs Racing
- Matt DiBenedetto 95 Toyota Express Maintenance Toyota Camry Leavine Family Racing
- Brad Keselowski 2 Miller Lite Ford Mustang Team Penske
- Kyle Busch 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry Joe Gibbs Racing
- Chase Elliott 9 Hooters Spirits Chevrolet Camaro Hendrick Motorsports
- Kyle Larson 42 Credit One Bank Chevrolet Camaro Chip Ganassi Racing
- Clint Bowyer 14 Peak Lighting Ford Mustang Stewart-Haas Racing
- Daniel Suárez 41 Haas Ford Mustang Stewart-Haas Racing
- Kurt Busch 1 Monster Energy Chevrolet Camaro Chip Ganassi Racing
- Ryan Blaney 12 Dent Wizard Ford Mustang Team Penske
- Ryan Newman 6 Acronis Ford Mustang Roush-Fenway Racing
- Daniel Hemric (R) 8 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Off Road Chevrolet Camaro Richard Childress Racing
- Martin Truex Jr. 19 Tracker Off Road/Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry Joe Gibbs Racing
- Bubba Wallace 43 Victory Junction Chevrolet Camaro Richard Petty Motorsports
- Alex Bowman 88 Nationwide Chevrolet Camaro Hendrick Motorsports
- Joey Logano 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Mustang Team Penske
- Chris Buescher 37 Bush’s Best/Kroger Chevrolet Camaro JTG-Daugherty Racing
- Ryan Preece (R) 47 Kroger Chevrolet Camaro JTG-Daugherty Racing
- Jimmie Johnson 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro Hendrick Motorsports
- Ty Dillon 13 GEICO Military Chevrolet Camaro Germain Racing
- William Byron 24 Liberty University Chevrolet Camaro Hendrick Motorsports
- Erik Jones 20 Stanley Toyota Camry Joe Gibbs Racing
- Paul Menard 21 Knauf/Menards Ford Mustang Wood Brothers Racing
- Corey LaJoie 32 Incredible Bank Ford Mustang Go Fas Racing
- Landon Cassill 00 Permatex Chevrolet Camaro StarCom Racing
- Ross Chastain 15 Chantz Scott Auto Group Chevrolet Camaro Premium Motorsports
- Matt Tifft (R) 36 Surface Sunscreen Ford Mustang Front Row Motorsports
- J.J. Yeley 54 Pods Ford Mustang Rick Ware Racing
- Aric Almirola 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang Stewart-Haas Racing
- Quin Houff (R) 27 Chevrolet Camaro Premium Motorsports
- Kyle Weatherman (R) 52 Belmont Classic Cars Chevrolet Camaro Rick Ware Racing
- B.J. McLeod 51 Pinnacle Sports & Entertainment Ford Mustang Rick Ware Racing
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 17 Fastenal Ford Mustang Roush-Fenway Racing
- Austin Dillon 3 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Off Road Chevrolet Camaro Richard Childress Racing
- Josh Bilicki (R) 53 Chelle Corporation/AQRE Chevrolet Camaro Rick Ware Racing
- David Ragan 38 MDS Ford Mustang Front Row Motorsports
- Michael McDowell 34 Love’s/Speedco Ford Mustang Front Row Motorsports
- Reed Sorenson 77 Go-Parts.com Chevrolet Camaro Spire Motorsports
- Kevin Harvick 4 Busch Beer Ford Mustang Stewart-Haas Racing
Ian O’Brien is a Contributor for the Unwrapped Sports Network website. Follow him @Ianthekicker41 on Twitter.