Denny Hamlin wins Southern 500 at Darlington for first win of 2021 season, advances to next round of NASCAR playoffs

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Denny Hamlin (11) races along with Quin Houff (00) in a NASCAR Cup Series auto race Sunday, Sept. 5, 2021, in Darlington, S.C. (AP Photo/John Amis)

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Denny Hamlin led 146 laps, picked up a stage victory, and ended up in victory lane at Darlington Raceway in South Carolina on Sunday night as the winner of the Southern 500.

The victory was Hamlin’s first of the 2021 season and automatically advances him to the next round of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

Hamlin, who originally hails from Chesterfield, started on the front row for Sunday night’s race. It was his first win since the fall race at Talladega Superspeedway in 2020.

Kyle Larson finished second, Ross Chastain was third, and Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top five finishers.

The NASCAR Xfinity Series and the NASCAR Cup Series come to Richmond Raceway on Sept. 11 for a doubleheader of NASCAR playoff racing.

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