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NASCAR Recap: Hamlin Wins First Race of Sprint Cup Playoffs Despite Torn ACL

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Denny Hamlin No. 11 Toyota Camry

Denny Hamlin in the No. 11 Toyota Camry
Photo: James Marvin Phelps

In spite of racing with a torn ACL in his right knee, which he injured only 12 days earlier playing basketball, Denny Hamlin was able to drive his No. 11 Toyota Camry to victory at Chicagoland Speedway, in the first race of the NASCAR playoffs.

The victory guarantees Hamlin a spot in the second round of the playoffs, but it didn’t come easy. Hamlin started the race in 29th and his car spun on lap two, which put him a lap behind the competition after he made a pit stop to change his tires.

Hamlin was as far back as 43rd position early in the race, but was able to drive his way back to the front and passed both Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch with five laps to go for his second win of the season. The win also marked Hamlin’s 26th career victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Defending Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick finished the race in 42nd, after a collision with Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet SS caused damage to Harvick’s vehicle, causing one of his tires to go flat.

Johnson finished the race in 11th and he tried to speak with Harvick after the race, but the driver of the No. 4 Chevrolet SS sponsored by Budweiser was in no mood for conversation and pushed Johnson away.

Hamlin’s teammate Carl Edwards finished 2nd and he was followed by Chevy driver Kurt Busch. Ryan Newman and Matt Kenseth completed the top-five. Toyota driver Kyle Busch lead the most laps in the race with 141, but faded towards the end and finished 9th. Popular drivers Jeff Gordon and Danica Patrick finished 14th and 26th, respectively.

The Sprint Cup Series will be visiting New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 27th. The race will be broadcast this Sunday on NBCSN at 2pm.

Video: Kevin Harvick Pushes Jimmie Johnson