(NASCAR.com staff report) In what could be a sneak preview of the Championship 4 race later this year, Denny Hamlin outdueled Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Martin Truex Jr. to win the Super Start Batteries 400 presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts Thursday night at Kansas Speedway.
After a wild restart on Lap 246, Hamlin passed Harvick for the lead on Lap 255 of 267 and held off a late charge from Keselowski to score his NASCAR Cup Series-best fifth victory of the season, his third at Kansas and the 42nd of his career.
Hamlin led four times for a race-high 57 laps to rebound from three sub-par finishes in what otherwise has been a stellar season for the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota team.
Moments after the final restart, Harvick made a deft move to slip past Hendrick Motorsports teammates William Byron and Alex Bowman. Hamlin followed and started to close the gap by running the top lane on the 1.5-mile track. Harvick’s car was too loose to take Hamlin’s line, and after chasing for eight laps, Hamlin made the pass for the lead with relative ease.
Keselowski followed Hamlin past Harvick, and Truex soon followed to secure the third position. Truex led 44 laps and Keselowski 30 in a race that featured a surfeit of action, as the 11 cautions implied.
Harvick held the fourth position at the finish. Erik Jones ran fifth, followed by Aric Almirola (scoring his eighth straight top 10), Cole Custer, Bowman, Kurt Busch and Byron. In the race for the regular-season championship, Harvick leads second-place Keselowski by 97 points.
For a complete wrap-up of Thursday’s race, follow this link to NASCAR.com.