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3 things we learned from Denny Hamlin's NASCAR victory at rainy Darlington Raceway

Alex Andrejev, The Charlotte Observer on

Published in Auto Racing

Chase Elliott flipped off Kyle Busch and then Mother Nature flipped off NASCAR.

Wednesday night, the Toyota 500 was called with 20 laps remaining in the 228-lap race due to rain. Leader Denny Hamlin was deemed the winner of NASCAR's second race at Darlington.

Kyle Busch finished in second place and Kevin Harvick finished third.

Shortly before Hamlin stood for his post-race interview (wearing a face mask printed with his smiling mouth on it), drama unfolded on the track. With under 30 laps to go, Busch and Chase Elliott ran side-by-side behind Hamlin vying for the second-place spot. Busch then moved to the outside lane behind Elliott, tapping the No. 9 car from behind and causing Elliott to spin into the outside wall.

Elliott emerged from his car and gave Busch the middle finger. His crew chief, Alan Gustafson, confronted Busch after the race for answers. Busch responded it was an accident.

"I knew I needed to get in line as quick as I could," Busch said.

 

In doing so, Busch said he misjudged the timing and ended up making contact with Elliott. Moments later, a caution flag was thrown and rain fell on the track.

In addition to Busch, the night was a smash for Clint Bowyer. Not literally. The No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing driver did not force anyone to rage quit NASCAR's second race at Darlington on Wednesday night because he was too far out front.

Bowyer clinched the first two stage wins of the race before falling to 22nd. He took the first green-and-white checkered flag with a 2-second lead over Ryan Blaney in third.

His pit stops then stayed efficient for the remainder of the night and gave him his best-ever showing at the Darlington track. Before Wednesday, Bowyer had never raced a top-five finish in 15 starts at Darlington and only had previously had only two top-10 finishes.

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