Hamlin edges Byron in thrilling Xfinity finish at Michigan


Hamlin won the Irish Hills 250 Xfinity Series race at Michigan International Speedway Saturday afternoon.

It was Hamlin's 16th career Xfinity victory and first in three starts this year, but the 19-year-old Byron made him earn it. Byron led after a restart with two laps remaining, but Hamlin pressured him the rest of the way, and the Cup Series veteran eventually prevailed by 0.012 seconds in his No. 20 Toyota.

"The insane part was, we went so low down the back straightaway, there was dust and stuff flying off the tires". As for Hamlin, it was his first victory of the season and his second-career win at the MI oval.

"He did a really great job and really I knew he had a really good vehicle", Hamlin said. I guess I maybe could have done a better job. "We were going so fast that I kind of left him a little bit of a lane". "We've got to continue to lead laps and be up front there and we're going to get our chance to win a few of these races, so it's really exciting to be up there to lead a couple restarts".

Elliott Sadler finished third behind Hamlin and Byron and took over the series lead from Justin Allgaier.

Sadler wasn't happy that FS1 opted to interview Brad Keselowski (Rochester Hills), who finished fourth, instead of him after the race.

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"It's one of those things I could probably give a better answer to once it happens or if it happens because it hasn't, Keselowski said of what winning at his home track would mean to him, "but I could imagine what it would be like with respect to how good it felt in the XFINITY Series and I would assume that it would feel even better on the Cup level. So I don't understand how you take the Xfinity regular season points leader and tell him you don't have time for him when he has one of the longest-running sponsors in the sport". He won six Camping World Truck Series races last season en route to the Rookie of the Year Award in that series.

Hamlin led three times for 34 laps in Saturday's race including the final lap after getting by Byron in the thrilling finish.

Much like Keselowski, Busch didn't say anything too fiery as he walked to the garage following the race. "Denny was the class of the field there at the end". Even though you can hear Keselowski get out of the gas in the second video embedded below, it wasn't enough to keep from ramming Busch's back bumper. That was a bummer. I had a big run and tried to go to the bottom and tried to go to the top.

They banged doors on the restart with two laps to go. To see the JRM cars run this well is really good. "A lot to be proud of".

Busch, starting on the outside, pulled ahead of Keselowski once they cleared the start-finish line.