UPDATED: Hamlin Loses Darlington at Tech Inspection

Custer passes Christoper Bell

(DARLINGTON, SC – RIS – AUG 31, 2019) For a while,Denny Hamlin had improved his average finish in races at Darlington to 2.5 by winning Saturday's Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200 NASCAR Xfinity Series race, holding off a challenge from Cole Custer for the final few laps of the race. That lasted until the car underwent post-race inspection where it measured too low at the left front ride height and too high on the right rear, handing the victory to Cole Custer.

"I was just standing by the hauler and everybody started going around the tech shed and I got a call from my crew chief," said Custer when asked how he learned of the reversal of fortunes. "He was standing about 15 feet away from me and he was like, 'They're too low.'  And so it was pretty crazy.  And then you're just praying you make it through tech, so it was a strange way to win that's for sure."

"it's a really strange feeling, obviously.  You don't want to win them that way, but it is what it is," Custer continued." We all play by the same rules…. No, with everything he won the race but it is what it is.  We get the points.  We get the money and we get everything, including the trophy so we'll take it."

Hamlin had swept Darlington weekends twice in the past, making him a potential favorite for Sunday's Bojangle's Southern 500. "I thought I had him," said Custer. "We were so good in one and two. I started working the bottom really good over there and I started doing that with about five laps to go, but I just couldn't get the run off of four to get to his bumper. We were just a tick too loose, but I can't thank my guys enough. They made the car a ton better throughout the race, but this is a track you really want to win at, I mean it's Darlington, so finishing second two years in a row really sucks. But it was nice to give Production Alliance a good run and Buckshot, so we can take that after the month we've had."

Dale Earnhardt Jr, driving a throwback themed car, replicating his father's first Darlington car wound up scored in fifth place. Earnhardt was the top finishing driver from his JR Motorsports squad., 

"Too Tough to Tame" has been a description of Darlington Racewasy for years, along with the moniker "The Lady in Black" and today's NASCAR Xfinity Series race proved both for Justin Allgaier as he hit the wall numerous times but kept going to finish ninth after the DQ.

Second -place finisher Tyler Reddick headed more laps than any other driver, leading 70 of the 147 rounds. Ryan Blaney led for 50 laps and Hamlin topped the field for the final 27 laps on his way to the checkered flag.

Continuing his description of the race and his season, Custer added: "those are places I've been comfortable at ever since I started.  We've obviously had really fast cars.  I mean, Mike has given me really fast cars to work with at these tracks and pretty much every single weekend, so without the team – I think our pit crew did an awesome job today and everybody at Roush Yates Engines, and everybody at the shop, it was just a perfect day, really.

"More a win that you see in the standings and everything.  It's cool that we won.  You'll take the trophy and the points and everything, but you want to win them.  We want to be the first one to the start-finish line, but it's cool to win it this way too.  It's all upside I guess than finishing second."

Unofficial Race Results for the 37th Annual Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200 - Aug 31, 2019
Fin, St, Driver, Car, Laps, St1, St2, Tms Led, Laps Led, Playoff Pts, Pts, Status
1)3, Cole Custer, No. 00 Production Alliance Group Ford, 147, 6, 4, , , , 47, Running
2)6, Tyler Reddick, No. 2 myblu Chevrolet, 147, 1, 3, 2, 70, 1, 52, Running
3)1, Ryan Blaney(i), No. 12 BodyArmor Ford, 147, 2, 1, 3, 50, , 0, Running
4)2, Christopher Bell, No. 20 McCall's Supply Ruud Toyota, 147, 3, 6, , , , 45, Running
5)14, Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 8 Hellmann's Chevrolet, 147, 7, 7, , , , 39, Running
6)5, Chase Briscoe #, No. 98 Ford Performance Ford, 147, 4, 8, , , , 40, Running
7)7, Brandon Jones, No. 19 Mojo Outdoor/iK9 Toyota, 147, 8, 9, , , , 34, Running
8)8, Noah Gragson #, No. 9 Adventure Force/Far Out Toys Chevrolet, 147, , , , , , 28, Running
9)4, Justin Allgaier, No. 7 ARMOUR Vienna Sausage Chevrolet, 147, 5, 2, , , , 42, Running
10)9, Austin Cindric, No. 22 MoneyLion Ford, 147, , 10, , , , 27, Running
11)12, Justin Haley #, No. 11 Raybestos Brakes Chevrolet, 147, 9, , , , , 27, Running
12)20, Jeremy Clements, No. 51 RepairableVehicles.com Chevrolet, 147, , , , , , 24, Running
13)10, Michael Annett, No. 1 Baby Ruth Chevrolet, 147, , , , , , 23, Running
14)13, Ryan Sieg, No. 39 Mike D's BBQ Chevrolet, 147, , , , , , 22, Running
15)15, Gray Gaulding, No. 08 DBAutomotive.com Chevrolet, 147, , , , , , 21, Running
16)18, Ray Black II, No. 07 ISOKERNFrplcs&ChmnsScbLf Chev, 147, , , , , , 20, Running
17)17, Alex Labbe, No. 90 DGM Racing Chevrolet, 147, , , , , , 19, Running
18)11, Landon Cassill, No. 01 Flex Seal Chevrolet, 147, 10, , , , , 19, Running
19)23, BJ McLeod, No. 4 SC Education Lottery Chevrolet, 147, , , , , , 17, Running
20)22, Camden Murphy, No. 93 RSS Racing Chevrolet, 146, , , , , , 16, Running
21)16, John Hunter Nemechek #, No. 23 Fire Alarm Services Inc. Chevrolet, 146, , , , , , 15, Running
22)21, Stefan Parsons, No. 99 Phoenix Construction Toyota, 146, , , , , , 14, Running
23)27, Timmy Hill, No. 66 CrashClaimsR.Us Toyota, 146, , , , , , 13, Running
24)28, Josh Williams, No. 36 Starbrite Star Tron/Simcraft Chevrolet, 144, , , , , , 12, Running
25)26, Joey Gase, No. 35 Carolina Cooker Toyota, 144, , , , , , 11, Running
26)24, Stephen Leicht, No. 15 JD Motorsports Chevrolet, 144, , , , , , 10, Running
27)33, David Starr, No. 52 Steely Lumber Chevrolet, 144, , , , , , 9, Running
28)36, Vinnie Miller, No. 78 Pit Viper Sunglasses Chevrolet, 143, , , , , , 8, Running
29)29, Garrett Smithley, No. 0 Mike Mittler Tribute Chevrolet, 143, , , , , , 7, Running
30)31, Chad Finchum, No. 61 Apple Barn Toyota, 133, , , , , , 6, Suspension
31)34, Matt Mills, No. 5 J.F. Electric Chevrolet, 128, , , , , , 5, Engine
32)35, Mike Harmon, No. 74 Chevrolet, 114, , , , , , 4, Running
33)19, Brandon Brown #, No. 86 Coastal Carolina University Chevrolet, 85, , , , , , 3, Accident
34)25, Joe Nemechek(i), No. 17 Chevrolet, 72, , , , , , 0, Brakes
35)32, Tommy Joe Martins, No. 13 CrashClaimsR.US Toyota, 61, , , , , , 1, Transmission
36)30, JJ Yeley, No. 38 RSS Racing Chevrolet, 34, , , , , , 1, Axle
37)38, Morgan Shepherd, No. 89 Visone RV Chevrolet, 27, , , , , , 1, Electrical
38)37, Denny Hamlin(i), No. 18 Sport Clips Toyota, 147, , 5, 1, 27, , 0, Running
 (i) Ineligible for driver points in this series, (#) Rookie

Darlington Raceway: Darlington, SC, 1.366 Mile Paved
Total Race Length: 147 Laps, 200.802 Miles
Time of Race:1 Hrs, 41 Mins, 8 Secs.
Average Speed:119.131 MPH
Margin of Victory:.602 Seconds

Stage 1 Top 10:2, 12, 20, 98, 7, 00, 8, 19, 11, 01
Stage 2 Top 10:12, 7, 2, 00, 18, 20, 8, 98, 19, 22

Race Comments:Denny Hamlin won the Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200, his 18th career NASCAR Xfinity Series victory.

Prior to the startof the race the following cars dropped to the rear of the field under penalty for the reasons indicated: No. 18 (backup car), No. 4, 38 and 89 (unapproved adjustments).

Caution Flags:5 for 23 laps;
Laps:13-16 (No. 23 Spin in Turn 4 [89]);
47-52 (Stage 1 Conclusion [4]);
54-56 (No. 08, 9, 86 Incident on the backstretch [23]);
92-97 (Stage 2 Conclusion [4]);
134-137 (No. 01 and 36 Incident in Turn 4 [93]).

Lead Changes:5 among 3 drivers;
R. Blaney(i) 1-15;
T. Reddick 16-84;
R. Blaney(i) 85-92;
T. Reddick 93;
R. Blaney(i) 94-120;
D. Hamlin(i) 121-147.

Mobil 1 Driver of the Race:Cole Custer, No. 00

John Davison

Long-time RIS staffer, beginning in the mid-80s. Charlotte, NC area local contact.

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Volume 2019, Issue 8, Posted 6:49 PM, 08.31.2019