Denny Hamlin wins Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Semi-Finals


Brenda Kochevar

ISM Raceway

Brenda Kochevar, Reporter


Denny Hamlin wins the Bluegreen Vacations 500 in front of a sold-out crowd at ISM Raceway in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Semi-Final Race.

ISM Raceway is now a 1.022-mile track and hosts several NASCAR events throughout the year. The pit crew specializes in changing tires and providing a full tank of gas for the drivers all in less that 12 seconds for every pit stop during the race.

Denny Hamlin started the race in third position but held an impressive lead in 143 laps.

At Stage 1 and Lap 75 of the race, Hamlin held the lead with Chase Elliot, Kyle Busch and Joey Logano following.

Stage 2 and Lap 150 in, found Hamlin slipped into second with Logano in the lead. Elliott and Kyle Busch followed in third and fourth.

Elliott saw his chance for the win and on Lap 166 when he lost a tire and crashed into the wall wrecking his car.

With a few laps remaining, John Hunter Nemechek’s car smacks the wall in Turn 1 causing the last yellow caution of the day.

The race restarted and Hamlin shows he’s the leader with his best restart of the day.

Moving into the lead, Hamlin goes on to win the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Semi-Final Race.

After the race, Matt Tyrrell, Over-The-Wall Crew Member for second place driver Busch, spoke with Northeast Valley News.

“Going into the day, the only thing we could control was beating the 22 so we just knew that at the end of the first stage, second stage, and the end of the race that we needed to be in front of them. So our whole game plan wasn’t necessarily first, second, third it was to beat the 22.” Tyrrell said.

Northeast Valley News spoke with John Gray, a Tempe resident and an excited fan of driver William Byron.

“This is our ninth year. NASCAR is awesome! It’s the greatest” Gray said.

In the Finals, Denny Hamlin won the race, followed by Kyle Busch second and Ryan Blaney third. Hamlin and Busch advance into Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship 4. 

Spotted wearing a Fed EX jersey, Northeast Valley News spoke with Michelle Connell, a resident of Kingman, Arizona as she waited outside the garage gates to wave goodbye to her favorite driver, winner Denny Hamlin.

“That was the most exciting finish I’ve seen in a long time. My heart was pounding after that last restart. Especially seeing Kyle Busch come up on him, I knew Kyle wouldn’t give him a break.” Connell said.

“It was a great experience being here. I’m excited to watch Denny win the championship next weekend!” Connell added.