Denny Hamlin became the first NASCAR Cup Series driver in 2020 to sweep all three stages and win a race on Sunday, putting together a dominant performance to claim victory in the Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Hamlin passed Chase Elliott with 29 laps remaining and led the rest of the way to pick up his third win of the year.
Hamlin Continues Dominance at Homestead-Miami
The victory also marked Hamlin’s third career win at Homestead-Miami, and the 40th of his NASCAR Cup Series career.
Hamlin finished .895 seconds ahead of Elliott after leading 138 of 267 laps.
“Our car was just really good,” Hamlin told Fox Sports after the race. “This is the car kinda based off what we had here in the fall last year going for the championship. We had a strong car all day, obviously, with the laps led and able to get around Chase there at the end.”
Elliott held a 1.5-second lead with 45 laps to go after gaining the advantage during a final round of pit stops. But Hamlin made up that ground while the two were trying to get past Joey Logano and other cars that had fallen off the lead lap.
“I just need to get through lapped traffic better,” Elliott said afterward.
Military, Kamara Watch Race in Person
The Dixie Vodka 400 broke new ground by including 1,000 invited guests to act as an audience. The crowd consisted mostly of local military members who could each bring one guest to the track.
Most of them didn’t make it until the end of the race, which finally ended at 10:46 pm. Rainstorms and lightning caused multiple stoppages that totaled nearly four hours.
“It was a little bit different,” Ryan Blaney said after his third-place finish. “Obviously, we raced later than we thought, but on the other side of that, the race that we’re used to down here usually ends a little bit later, too.”
NASCAR also invited New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara to watch the race in person. Kamara had tweeted support for driver Bubba Wallace earlier in the week, standing behind Wallace’s push to ban the Confederate flag from NASCAR events. Kamara arrived at the race in Wallace gear and watched the driver finish in 13th place.
— Alvin Kamara (@A_kamara6) June 13, 2020
“What’s right is right, what’s wrong is wrong, and I think Bubba’s a testament to that,” Kamara told ESPN while at the track. “There’s obviously some people that are against that decision of removing the flag, and I think there’s way more people that are for that decision. Because I think there’s a certain stigma on the type of fans that support this sport, and there’s some bad ones. But I don’t think the bad ones represent all the good ones.”
Hamlin’s third win places him among the favorites to win the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series Championship. Bet365 lists Hamlin, Elliott, and Kevin Harvick as co-favorites, with each at +550 to win the title. That puts them ahead of the trio of Logano, Kyle Busch, and Martin Truex Jr., who are each at +650.