It was a rough beginning for playoff drivers that started prior to the competition caution for Bowman with an issue for a tire that eventually let loose and collected William Byron. But it didn’t end there and while under the caution with leaders coming to pit road it was Chase Elliott with an issue on pit road after making contact.
Yet when you think it was all over Michael McDowell broke loose down the back and slammed the inside wall ending his first playoff race just 32 laps in.
“The 43 kind of got everybody jammed up. I think he started on the front there without tires, which is a tough spot to be in and I just went three-wide underneath him and just got into the patch with my left sides just a little bit low. I got loose enough into the wall and that was about it.” Said McDowell
As the laps wound down in stage one it was the King of Darlington well in command allowing Hamlin to take home the first stage win of the playoffs to put up much needed points.
Once racing got back underway it was yet again another playoff driver experiencing issues when the No. 18 machine of Ky. Busch slammed the wall off turn two sending him straight to the garage and ending his night with just 126 laps completed.
As the night wore on the licks kept on coming just as they passed 200 laps completed when yet as playoff driver William Byron hammered the wall down in turn one.
That was a big hit. It looked like on that pit stop, it looked like we dropped the jack and the left front was still finishing up. I took off and everything felt okay. I went to pass the No. 00 (Quin Houff) or somebody down the front stretch; and was just about to turn into (Turn) 1 and the left front went down. There was nothing we could do. Said Byron
With stage two winding itself down Kyle Larson turned his 100th lap as the leader also scoring the stage win over Christopher Bell who had been doing battle with Hamlin coming to the stage end.
The hits kept on coming as both Blaney and Elliott both experienced issues within a handful of laps of each out to bring out the 10th and 11th caution of the night. After limping the No. 9 machine back to pit road, the crew sent Elliott straight to the garage ending his night as the fourth playoff driver to make an early exit.
As laps began to click off to the end a hard charging Kyle Larson and Ross Chastain tried their best to keep pace with Hamlin who used lapped traffic to keep a slight distance on the pair trying to run him down. Truex with fresher tires began mounting a charge from fourth place but in the end, it was Denny Hamlin taking home his fourth win at Darlington and the first win of 2021 to lock himself in the second round of the playoffs following Bristol.
The series now moves on to Richmond Raceway for the Federated Auto Parts 400, Saturday, Sept. 11th at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.