Denny Hamlin has raced to his fourth victory of the season by holding off Matt DiBenedetto at Bristol Motor Speedway.
DiBenedetto finished a career-best second just days after learning Leavine Family Racing would not bring him back for a second season. A win would have earned him an automatic berth into the playoffs.
Instead, Hamlin chased him down in the closing laps to spoil the upset.
Hamlin won from the pole and overcame early damage to his Toyota and a loose wheel to win at Bristol for the second time in his career.
Busch cycled into the lead by not pitting under caution right before the final push to end the stage.
It was a rough stage for Hamlin, who started from the pole but had contact with Jimmie Johnson while leading, then later developed a loose wheel that forced an unscheduled stop. He was 18th at the end of the second stage.
Playoff contender Aric Almirola hit the wall and damaged his Ford when he developed a tire rub. He had to stop to repair the damage and later wrecked again.
Clint Bowyer also took a brief hit in his playoff push when he was turned by Reed Sorenson after passing Sorenson but not leaving enough room before dipping below the lapped the car. The spin happened inches in front of teammate Daniel Suarez but the Stewart-Haas Racing drivers did not make contact.
During the pit stop brought out by Bowyer’s spin, Kevin Harvick’s transmission broke in what was a rocky sequence of events for the SHR cars.