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Denny Hamlin wins Southern 500 to open NASCAR Cup playoffs

DARLINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - SEPTEMBER 05: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 Offerpad Toyota,...
DARLINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - SEPTEMBER 05: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 Offerpad Toyota, celebrates in the Ruoff Mortgage victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on September 05, 2021 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)(Jared C. Tilton | Getty Images)
Published: Sep. 6, 2021 at 12:22 AM EDT
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DARLINGTON, S.C. (AP) — Denny Hamlin held off Kyle Larson after their cars hit nose to tail racing to the finish line Sunday night in the Southern 500 to open the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

Hamlin won for the first time this season after entering the week seeded seventh in the 16-driver postseason field and vowing if he kept running strongly up front, he’d reach Victory Lane before the year ended.

The win was Hamlin’s fourth at Darlington Raceway and moved him into the round of 12 in the knockout format in a grueling race where several playoff contenders struggled at the track “Too Tough To Tame.”

Larson was second for the third straight time racing at Darlington.

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