With a stylish pass on Joey Logano with six laps to go, it looked as though the Hisense 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway would go to Kyle Larson.
Then the caution flew.
But a two-tire pit stop for Denny Hamlin under the final caution set the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team up for success, as Hamlin drove from sixth to first to take the XFINITY Series win in an overtime finish.
“I thought, realistically, we probably had the best car all day,” Hamlin said. “I just didn’t get very good restarts. That’s really the only time we would get passed. The [No.] 42 had a good long-run car.”
Overcoming a pit road violation on lap 160, Hamlin scored his first XFINITY Series win of 2016 and 15th of his career.
“I really had a great car and then we had that penalty and had to go to the back. Really, I drove as hard as I could that last run and got back up into third. We needed a caution to get caught up and we got it.”
Austin Dillon sneaked past Logano to grab the runner-up spot.“Restarting third there – I wish I could have stayed even with the [No.] 42 going down the backstretch but the 18 gave him such a big shove that he was able to clear me going into [turn] 3.”
With four cautions in the opening 55 laps, the hot and slick conditions of the 2.5-mile track spelled chaos for a number of drivers — three of whom, Elliott Sadler, Daniel Suarez and Erik Jones, hit a layer of oil in turns 3 and 4, which took significant toll on their machines.
Justin Allgaier, who finished fifth, called the oil “weird” as he was successful in maneuvering through the mess.
“[The oil] was really hard to see today for some reason,” Allgaier said. “When you would get to it, you literally were right on top of it before you would see it. I tried to do everything I could to miss it. Not going to say I did a great job of it, but I think at the end of the day, I didn’t lose any spots because of it.”
Erik Jones, who started the race on pole, led the race for 14 laps before sliding his No. 20 Toyota into the wall. Later, the reigning Camping World Truck Series champion would cause the race’s final caution after blowing a right-front tire. He would finish 31st, nine laps down.
Taking advantage of the attrition, Cole Custer was the highest non-Sprint Cup Series regular throughout the race, even out-performing his JR Motorsports teammate Allgaier. Finishing a career-high fourth, Custer was glad to grab his first top-5 finish in only his second series start.
“I ended up really happy with where we ended up there,” Custer said. “The day didn’t start out that good – got some damage on pit road. It means a lot. As a driver, you’re always trying to get more and try to win. Obviously, I really happy having a top 5.”
Missing the top 5 by 0.056 seconds, Larson would again experience a tough lose at Charlotte after crashing out of the lead in last weekend’s Sprint All-Star Race. With the Chip Ganassi Racing driver finishing sixth, Brandon Jones was in seventh followed by Ty Dillon, Brennan Poole and Brendan Gaughan in the top 10.
Jeb Burton, who crashed during morning qualifying, drove an impressive race for Richard Petty Motorsports toward finishing 11th. Ryan Sieg, Blake Koch and Garrett Smithley completed the top 15.
Click here for full Hisense 300 results.