Denny Hamlin overcame a bad miss of the pit road entrance to chase down Martin Truex Jr. with three laps left and win the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on Sunday night.
Hamlin checked up after sliding by the entrance with 54 laps left and fell behind Truex by 20 seconds. But Hamlin slowly reeled him in and passed him when Truex brushed the wall and got a flat tire.
Hamlin swept throwback weekend in Darlington, S.C., after winning the Xfinity race Saturday. Truex won the first two stages of Sunday’s race to clinch NASCAR’s regular-season championship and gain the No. 1 seed heading into the playoffs in two weeks.
Kyle Busch finished second, followed by brother Kurt Busch, Austin Dillon and Erik Jones.
Hamlin led 124 laps and looked well on his way to his second Southern 500 win (the other was in 2008). Then he inexplicably missed the entrance and seemingly threw the race to the ever-steady Truex.
But Hamlin came back. He got up to Truex’s bumper with three laps left before moving low around lapped traffic to take the lead. Truex stumbled home in eighth.