Hamlin Tames the Lightning at Miami

Denny Hamlin crosses the finish line first in the Dixie Vodka 400

Hamlin Sweeps Miami
(HOMESTEAD, FL - JUN 14, 2020 - RIS) Denny Hamlin welcomed crew chief Chris Gabehart back to the track after a four-race suspension in the strongest way possible, winning both stages and the race at the Dixie Vodka 400, his fortieth career win and third of the 2020 season, beating out Chase Elliott by 0.895 sec at the checkered flag. Ryan Blaney followed in third, with Tyler Reddick and Aric Almirola completing the top five. "This one was real special," said a smiling Hamlin after the race. "I knew that if I was just patient and ran the pace that I wanted and the pace I was comfortable with, we were going to be hard to beat in the long run.

"I just knew if I ran the pace I knew I needed to save the tires that I was going to be good in the long run," Hamlin added. "The driver gave away one at Bristol or else we would have four wins right now. I'll take every win I can, let's just keep piling them up."

Third place finisher Ryan Blaney, when asked what he needed to 'get up there with Denny,' laughed in replying: "The lead. When we came off pit road after that last green flag stop we were a ways behind those two guys and we made up a lot of ground, tons of ground on them, and just got to them and everyone is running the wall.

"Once it got going it was nice, but all the starting and stopping for lightning, I understand you have to be safe, but that definitely stinks getting in and out. I hate it for the fans too. They come out and want to see a race. At least once we got back going we were able to keep going, which was good, but that's a little strange."

The Dixie Vodka 400 was ready to go, drivers strapped in and engines running when a small pop-up shower over Turn Four put a short halt to the proceedings before any turn of the wheel. The rain probably washed off some of the rubber from yesterday's races and the Xfinity Series Contender Boats 250 earlier in the afternoon, causing some consternation for the crew chiefs and team engineers. In addition to the raindrops, lightning in the track area forced fans (yes, fans - the city of Homestead invited about a thousand employes at Homestead AFB and a guest or relative to the race. "Social Distancing" was being enforced and they were scattered widely throughout the front straight seats.

Florida's Governor Rick DeSantis waved the green flag over the field but only four laps later, lightning in the area brought out the red flag after Joey Logano grabbed the lead from pole sitter Denny Hamlin on the first lap.

After a weather delay of over two hours, the field took the green flag under cloudy skies with Logano jumping out to a lead of over a half second in just a couple of laps, holding the lead until a caution for Ryan Newman's almost spin became the 'competition caution' with Brad Keselowski holding second and Brennan Poole inheriting the lead by staying on the track instead of stopping.

Chase Elliott swept around Logano for the lead, followed by Tyler Reddick, with yet another lightning caution flying on lap 33. With the entire field still on the lead lap, after the weather delay, Elliott led the field under another green flag, with Ryan Blaney easing into the lead at the end of the first green lap, then the pair drove side by side until Blaney got the lead, with Reddick, Hamlin and Bowman finishing out the top five.

Hamlin made a dive inside of Blaney approaching the end of the first stage, taking the stage, followed by Blaney, Reddick, Elliott and Almirola. Hamlin led the gang off of pit road, heading Elliott, Blaney Bowman and Reddick to the line.

Elliott and Blaney drafted around the top side of Hamlin to take the lead, then Blaney moved to the inside of Elliott for the lead but Hamlin took over the lead again to take the stage 'win' and sweep the first and second stages at Homestead.

Ten laps later, Ryan Newman participated in bringing out the second yellow for an incident when he and Joey Logano tangled in the second turn. Hamlin dominated the first half of the final stage, then swapped the lead several times with Ryan Blaney before Chase Elliott took second place away from Blaney. Green flag pit stops saw Hamlin back in the lead, pursued by Chase Elliott, with the each looking high and low for traction and handling advantages over the other one.

[We] "Just needed to get through lapped traffic better," said runner-up Elliott. We'll just try to put ourselves in more spots to win."

Hamlin led 137 laps out of the 267, with Ryan Blaney heading 70 laps. Joey Logano and Chase Elliott headed the field for 27 laps each. New dad Austin Dillon was present for the birth of his first child, a son, and then flew to Miami for the race, where he finished seventh.

Unofficial Results, Dixie Vodka 400, Homestead-Miami Speedway

Fin, Str, Driver, Car, Laps, St1, St2, Tms Led, Laps Led, Playoff Pts, Pts, Status
1) 1, Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Office Toyota, 267, 1, 1, 5, 137, 7, 60, Running
2) 5, Chase Elliott, No. 9 Hooters Chevrolet, 267, 4, 3, 3, 27, , 50, Running
3) 11, Ryan Blaney, No. 12 Menards/Jack Links Ford, 267, 2, 4, 3, 70, , 50, Running
4) 24, Tyler Reddick #, No. 8 Chevy Cares Chevrolet, 267, 3, 2, 2, 3, , 50, Running
5) 21, Aric Almirola, No. 10 Smithfield Ford, 267, 5, 10, , , , 39, Running
6) 4, Kyle Busch, No. 18 M&M's Fudge Brownie Toyota, 267, , 9, 1, 2, , 33, Running
7) 16, Austin Dillon, No. 3 DOW/Behr Ultra Scuff Defense Chevrolet, 267, , 8, , , , 33, Running
8) 36, Christopher Bell #, No. 95 Rheem/Smurfit Kappa Toyota, 267, , , , , , 29, Running
9) 22, William Byron, No. 24 Axalta Chevrolet, 267, 8, 5, , , , 37, Running
10) 3, Brad Keselowski, No. 2 MoneyLion Ford, 267, 6, , 1, 1, , 32, Running
11) 12, Clint Bowyer, No. 14 BlueDEF Ford, 267, 9, , , , , 28, Running
12) 6, Martin Truex Jr., No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota, 267, , 7, , , , 29, Running
13) 17, Bubba Wallace, No. 43 World Wide Technology Chevrolet, 267, , , , , , 24, Running
14) 23, Matt DiBenedetto, No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford, 267, , , , , , 23, Running
15) 30, Michael McDowell, No. 34 Love's Travel Stops Ford, 267, , , , , , 22, Running
16) 9, Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Ally Chevrolet, 266, , , , , , 21, Running
17) 10, Kurt Busch, No. 1 GEARWRENCH Chevrolet, 266, , , , , , 20, Running
18) 8, Alex Bowman, No. 88 LLUMAR Chevrolet, 266, 7, 6, , , , 28, Running
19) 18, John Hunter Nemechek #, No. 38 Death Wish Coffee Ford, 266, , , , , , 18, Running
20) 19, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 47 Kroger Chevrolet, 266, , , , , , 17, Running
21) 15, Erik Jones, No. 20 Toyota Accessories Toyota, 266, , , , , , 16, Running
22) 35, Cole Custer #, No. 41 Jacob Co./HaasTooling.com Ford, 266, , , , , , 15, Running
23) 13, Chris Buescher, No. 17 Fastenal Ford, 266, 10, , , , , 15, Running
24) 33, Ryan Preece, No. 37 Slim Jim Chevrolet, 266, , , , , , 13, Running
25) 20, Matt Kenseth, No. 42 Credit One Bank Chevrolet, 266, , , , , , 12, Running
26) 7, Kevin Harvick, No. 4 Busch Light Ford, 266, , , , , , 11, Running
27) 2, Joey Logano, No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, 265, , , 3, 27, , 10, Running
28) 32, Ty Dillon, No. 13 GEICO For Your Boat Chevrolet, 265, , , , , , 9, Running
29) 26, Corey LaJoie, No. 32 Storm Tight Windows Ford, 264, , , , , , 8, Running
30) 14, Ryan Newman, No. 6 Oscar Mayer Subkit Ford, 263, , , , , , 7, Running
31) 37, * Daniel Suarez, No. 96 Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Toyota, 263, , , , , , 6, Running
32) 28, Brennan Poole #, No. 15 Spartan Mosquito Pro Tech Chevrolet, 260, , , , , , 5, Running
33) 31, Quin Houff #, No. 00 Good Greek Movers Chevrolet, 259, , , , , , 4, Running
34) 38, * Timmy Hill(i), No. 66 RoofClaim.com Toyota, 257, , , , , , 0, Running
35) 34, BJ McLeod(i), No. 77 Formula One Imports Chevrolet, 256, , , , , , 0, Running
36) 29, Joey Gase(i), No. 51 EFX Corp Ford, 255, , , , , , 0, Running
37) 27, Josh Bilicki(i), No. 53 Sky King Fireworks Chevrolet, 245, , , , , , 0, Running
38) 25, JJ Yeley(i), No. 27 Ford, 211, , , , , , 0, Fuel Pump
(i) Ineligible for driver points in this series, (#) Rookie

Race Length: 267 Laps, 400.5 Miles
Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 8 Mins, 6 Secs.
Average Speed: 127.751 MPH
Margin of Victory: .895 Seconds

Stage 1 Top 10: 11, 12, 8, 9, 10, 2, 88, 24, 14, 17
Stage 2 Top 10: 11, 8, 9, 12, 24, 88, 19, 3, 18, 10

Race Comments: Denny Hamlin won the Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, his 40th victory in the NASCAR Cup Series.

Prior to the start, the following vehicle(s) dropped to the rear of the field under penalty for the reasons indicated: No. 00 (Multiple inspection failures) and No. 77 (Unapproved adjustments).

Caution Flags: 6 for 27 laps;
Laps: 5-8 (Weather [Red Flag: 02:08:05] [None]);
22-24 (No. 6 Spin Turn 4/Competition Caution [None]);
33-36 (Weather [Red Flag: 00:38:43] [None]);
82-87 (Stage 1 Conclusion [20]);
162-167 (Stage 2 Conclusion [37]);
172-175 (No. 22, 6 Incident Turn 2 [38]).

Lead Changes: 18 among 7 drivers;
J. Logano 1-8;
D. Hamlin 9;
J. Logano 10-21;
B. Keselowski 22;
J. Logano 23-29;
C. Elliott 30-36;
R. Blaney 37-75;
D. Hamlin 76-87;
C. Elliott 88-90;
R. Blaney 91-120;
T. Reddick # 121-122;
D. Hamlin 123-193;
R. Blaney 194;
D. Hamlin 195-217;
T. Reddick # 218;
K. Busch 219-220;
C. Elliott 221-237;
D. Hamlin 238-267.

American Ethanol Green Flag Restart Award: Denny Hamlin, No. 11 
Sunoco Rookie of the Race: Tyler Reddick, No. 8 

John Davison

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

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Volume 2020, Issue 6, Posted 12:15 AM, 06.15.2020