Late Restart at Richmond Sets Up Hamlin for Second Win and Truex for Disappointment

nascar cup series toyota owners 400
Hamlin Wins 2nd Short Track Race of '24 SeasonJonathan Bachman - Getty Images

After leading more than half the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway, Martin Truex Jr's fate was sealed when Bubba Wallace got loose and spun Kyle Larson with two laps remaining.

This spin set up the first overtime finishing of the 2024 Cup season. The leaders made the decision to pit for fresh tires, and Denny Hamin, who entered pit lane in third, left ahead of Truex and Joey Logano, thanks to his 9.0-second pit stop, 1.3 seconds better than the leaders.

This was Hamlin's second win of the season; his teammate Truex was chasing his first since New Hampshire Motor Speedway last July.

"It's such a great feeling when you come in and you know you have a pit crew like that," Hamlin told Fox Sports' David Ragan after his win.

This was Hamlin's second win of the 2024 season, he joins William Byron as the only other driver with multiple wins so far.

Hamlin's first win came two weeks ago at Bristol Motor Speedway amidst extreme tire wear.

On the restart, Hamlin and Truex were door to door at the start/finish line. Truex was convinced that Hamlin jumped the line, and while it appears that Hamlin was a little early, NASCAR did not submit the restart for an official review.

When asked after the race, NASCAR's senior vice president of competition, Elton Sawyer, said that while it was close, it was a good restart for Hamlin.

"We reviewed that; we looked at it," Sawyer told Bob Pockrass of Fox Sports. "Obviously, the No. 11 was the control vehicle. It was awful close, but we deemed it to be a good restart."

With Hamlin in the lead, Truex was left to defend himself against Logano and Larson; the latter ended up gaining a position after his caution-causing spin. Logano got by Truex in turns 1 and 2, and Larson was able to follow in turns 3 and 4, much to Truex's dismay. Truex had to settle for fourth place after his strongest run of the 2024 season.

The veteran driver let his competitors know that he was unhappy as he door-banged Larson on the final lap and ran into his teammate Hamlin's bumper repeatedly after the checkered flag.

When asked about the collision with Truex, Larson was quick to explain why Truex had every right to be mad at the situation but thought that he shouldn't have been the intended target.

"He was just mad," Larson explained after the race, "He was mad that the 11 used him up on the restart. That's probably where it really started from. Then the 22 got to his inside in turns 1 and 2, and I got in behind the 22.

He just turned left across my nose and had me up on the apron off of 2. I don't know if he thought I just piled it in there, but he slammed me down the middle of the back stretch. I figured in 3 and 4 that I was going to use him up a little bit. I think he was more mad at [Hamlin], but I was the closest one to take his anger out on."

"Martin is probably the most respected guy in the garage area," Larson went on to say about the most veteran driver in the NASCAR field. "I was surprised when he turned left on me down the back stretch after the checkers. I hope he doesn't have any hard feelings toward me because I definitely don't toward him. Like I said, I have a lot of respect for him."

In a further show of respect, Wallace found Larson after the race to assure him that he got loose and didn't mean to spin him. It's clear that there is no bad blood between the drivers.

Wallace pointed out that karma got him back, as Larson could go on to run in the top three, and Wallace faded out of the top ten due to a long pit stop to access his late-race damage.

Next week, NASCAR will go short-track racing again as the circuit visits nearby Martinsville Speedway for the first time this season.

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