Denny Hamlin earns first win of season in Southern 500

On a night where many NASCAR Cup Series playoff drivers were undone by wrecks and pit road miscues, Denny Hamlin stayed out of trouble and narrowly held off Kyle Larson to get his first win of the season in the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

Hamlin, who entered the playoffs as the seventh seed, advances automatically to the Round of 12 with the victory.

Larson, the regular season champion, finished second to repeat his result at Darlington this past May.

Ross Chastain finished third to lead the non-playoff drivers. Martin Truex Jr., who defeated Larson for the win in May, finished fourth. Kevin Harvick rounded out the top five.

This story will be updated…

STAGE 1 WINNER: Denny Hamlin

STAGE 2 WINNER: Kyle Larson

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Chastain’s third-place finish was his third top five of the season and his first since going runner-up at Nashville Superspeedway in June. … Truex persevered through several setbacks, including a pit road speeding penalty with less than 50 laps to go, to finish fourth … Harvick recovered for fifth after pitting on Lap 288 for what he thought was a loose wheel; his team said that was not the case … Two more non-playoff drivers completed the top 10 finishers: Chris Buescher in ninth, Austin Dillon in 10th.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Playoff drivers Michael McDowell (Lap 31), Kyle Busch (Lap 125), William Byron (Lap 200) and Chase Elliott (Lap 327) all crashed out Sunday night. Of the group, McDowell had the slimmest margin of error in trying to advance to the next round – and it’s now gone. “We know what we’ve got to do, we’ve got to go out and win a race,” he said.

NOTABLE: Hamlin’s fourth career Darlington win now makes him the leader among active drivers at the track.

NEXT: Richmond Raceway – Saturday, Sept. 11 (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN)

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