NASCAR at Darlington live updates: Denny Hamlin wins, holds off Kyle Larson in Cup race

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Live updates from this event have concluded. For race results and analysis, please visit us here.

The NASCAR Cup Series playoff opener is tonight at Darlington Raceway. The Cook Out Southern 500 starts today at 6 p.m. on NBCSN.

The race is 501.3 miles (367 laps) with stages ending on laps 115, 230 and 367. All times are Eastern.

Follow NASCAR reporter Alex Andrejev on Twitter at @AndrejevAlex.

Final results

Pos.

Car

Driver

Time behind

Best time

Best speed

1

11

Denny Hamlin (P)

--

29.204

168.388

2

5

Kyle Larson (P)

0.212

29.006

169.537

3

42

Ross Chastain

1.948

29.552

166.405

4

19

Martin Truex Jr. (P)

2.227

29.42

167.152

5

4

Kevin Harvick (P)

12.467

29.181

168.521

6

1

Kurt Busch (P)

13.005

29.3

167.836

7

2

Brad Keselowski (P)

13.037

29.67

165.743

8

22

Joey Logano (P)

15.872

29.34

167.607

9

17

Chris Buescher

16.171

29.765

165.214

10

3

Austin Dillon

16.671

29.901

164.463

11

41

Cole Custer

17.343

29.853

164.727

12

37

Ryan Preece

17.802

29.757

165.259

13

99

Daniel Suarez

17.865

30.031

163.751

14

6

Ryan Newman

19.537

30.031

163.751

15

7

Corey LaJoie

25.019

29.711

165.514

16

10

Aric Almirola (P)

-1

29.755

165.27

17

47

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

-1

29.824

164.887

18

8

Tyler Reddick (P)

-1

29.525

166.557

19

14

Chase Briscoe

-1

29.883

164.562

20

20

Christopher Bell (P)

-1

29.512

166.631

21

23

Bubba Wallace

-1

30.027

163.773

22

12

Ryan Blaney (P)

-1

29.036

169.362

23

21

Matt DiBenedetto

-2

30.076

163.506

24

38

Anthony Alfredo

-3

30.191

162.883

25

77

Justin Haley

-3

30.135

163.186

26

48

Alex Bowman (P)

-4

29.443

167.021

27

78

BJ McLeod

-8

30.739

159.979

28

52

Josh Bilicki

-8

30.949

158.894

29

15

Joey Gase

-10

30.868

159.311

30

0

Quin Houff

-12

30.652

160.433

31

9

Chase Elliott (P)

-40

29.496

166.721

32

43

Erik Jones

-103

30.097

163.392

33

51

Cody Ware

-158

30.825

159.533

34

24

William Byron (P)

-168

29.527

166.546

35

18

Kyle Busch (P)

-242

29.941

164.243

36

53

James Davison

-317

31.017

158.545

37

34

Michael McDowell (P)

-337

30.23

162.673

(P) - Playoff driver

Final Stage

10:29 p.m., Lap 367: Denny Hamlin wins the Cook Out Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, holding off a huge challenge in the final laps from Kyle Larson. Ross Chastain holds on in third, and Martin Truex, who had the fastest car, placed fourth after a late race speeding penalty forced him to start from way back. Kevin Harvick rounds out the Top 5.

10:25 p.m., Lap 362: Larson is getting more and more loose in the top of the turns, and his ability to track Hamlin down seems to be fading. Hamlin runs his margin in front to a half second. Ross Chastain tried a bit ago to pass Larson, and appears to have used up his car. Truex now to within three seconds. If this race went 377 laps instead of 367, Truex would probably win.

10:24 p.m., Lap 359: Inside of 10 to go now, and Larson is really trying hard to track Hamlin down, but Chastain isn’t helping much, trying to play spoiler. Truex is still gaining, but he’s going to run out of time.

10:20 p.m., Lap 354: Truex made up almost a second in the last 5 laps. Does he have enough time to catch Hamlin/Larson? What he needs is those two to duel whule he stalks them.

10:18 p.m., Lap 348: Unreal... Martin Truex Jr. just LOVES Darlington, doesn’t he... He’s back into the Top 10, sitting in fourth position, but has five seconds to make up on the lead pack of three. Still, someone to watch, for sure. Hamlin, Larson, Chastain in that order.

10:16 p.m., Lap 341: Denny Hamlin pulling away from Larson a bit. Ross Chastain is next in third.

10:12 p.m., Lap 335: Larson big pressure on Hamlin but Hamlin holds him off, and Chastain is in there, too. Great battle up front. Logano there, too. Kevin Harvick, who is usually in a good spot at this track, biding his time in fifth.

10:09 p.m., Lap 331: So many playoff drivers having trouble here, but one who hasn’t (yet), is the one who hasn’t actually won a race yet this season, Denny Hamlin. Hamlin is first on the restart.

10:05 p.m., Lap 328: Left front tire goes out on Chase Elliott, and into the wal he goes. Another caution, and another playoff driver a casualty.

10:03 p.m., Lap 326: With 42 to go, we’re back to green flag racing. The field is all kinds of jumbled here, but one thing is clear: Denny Hamlin is in front, and Kyle Larson is in second after a restart pass on Ross Chastain.

9:56 p.m., Lap 321: And the strategy is all for nothing for Truex, who gets a penalty for speeding on pit road. ANOTHER playoff driver with a pretty bad miscue here.

9:55 p.m., Lap 320: So many playoff drivers with trouble tonight. McDowell, Kyle Busch, Byron all out, and Blaney now with a lengthy repair here. The field comes to pit road, meanwhile. Looks like Martin Truex Jr. will win the race off pit road, with nine cars on the lead lap.

9:53 p.m., Lap 319: Ryan Blaney spins all the way around, recovers, but has blown a right front tire, and the yellow comes out. A whole bunch of cars are still a lap down. This will change a lot of pit strategies here.

9:45 p.m., Lap 305: Denny Hamlin again the best car still out on the course with this cycle of stops. But the big story here so far is Ross Chastain beating Larson to the line off pit road. Chastain bidding to become just the second non-playoff driver to win a playoff race since the format came into being.

9:42 p.m., Lap 301: Kyle Larson and Ross Chastain onto the pits again for the second of three final scheduled green flag pit stops. Will be interesting to see how many come in, and when.

9:36 p.m., Lap 289: After the final group of four goes through the pit stops, the top has reset itself. Kyle Larson back in front, with Ross Chastain in second, but a full 5 seconds back. Logano, Kurt Busch and Chase Elliott round out the Top 5. Martin Truex nearly went a lap down.

Meanwhile Kevin Harvick has to go into the pits for a loose wheel. He’s going to go a lap down under green.

9:32 p.m., Lap 281: There goes Hamlin. Realizing all the cars with fresh tires were going by them, the 11 made its way to the pits a bit early for what may have been a try at only one more green-flag stop.

9:28 p.m., Lap 274: Kurt Busch is the first of the lead group to make his way to the pits. Larson, Logano follow, as do Harvick and Elliott. Green flag stops here, have to wait for everyone to cycle through. At the mometn, Ross Chastain and Denny Hamlin stayed out an extra lap, as did Lajoie.

Hamlin, Truex, Buescher, Keselowski all stay out longer.

9:25 p.m., Lap 268: Truex looks like he’s been shot out of a cannon. He’s into the Top 10 and keeps picking them off. Chastain, meanwhile, gets into third position ahead of Logano. Kevin Harvick and Chase Elliott are jostling for position at 5-6, also. All of these positions matter for playoff points, as well.

9:20 p.m., Lap 258: Big moving from Martin Truex Jr., who was dominant at the early season race at Darlington. he’s back up to 13th and on the move in the car that ran here last time, and hasn’t run anywhere since. Larson remains in front of Hamlin at the front of the field.

9:14 p.m., Lap 247: Kyle Larson is back in front and being chased again by Denny Hamlin. Joey Logano has slid into third with non-playoff driver Ross Chastain in the fourth position. Christopher Bell slid back to fifth on the stage restart.

9:08 p.m., Lap 236: Ryan Blaney with some tough news early in the final stage as he gets hit with a penalty for an uncontrolled tire on a pit stop, so he serves that and emerges at the tail end of the lead lap.

Stage 2

9 p.m.: Lap 230: Kyle Larson wins the second stage at Darlington, followed by Christopher Bell, Ross Chastain, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Joey Logano, Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney and Tyler Reddick.

8:47 p.m., Lap 229: Christopher Bell moves into second place as Denny Hamlin falls back but no one has been able to catch Kyle Larson.

8:39 p.m., Lap 201: And just like that, William Byron’s night is over. He hits the outside wall hard after a left front tire goes down. “That thing was hauling a** too,” his spotter says. Byron joins Kyle Busch and Michael McDowell as playoff drivers who have exited the race.

8:33 p.m., Lap 192: William Byron has made a big rebound. He’s in eighth and is asking about tires. He comes in shortly after along with Ross Chastain at the front of the field. Christopher Bell stays out after the others, then comes to pit road.

8:28 p.m., Lap 183: Denny Hamlin moves by Kurt Busch for second, without Busch putting up much of a fight for the spot. Hamlin is now 1.8 seconds behind Larson, who continues to lead. Behind them it’s Christopher Bell, Joey Logano, Ross Chastain, William Byron, Ryan Blaney, Kevin Harvick and Chase Elliott in the top 10.

8:19 p.m., Lap 169: Kyle Larson lines up in front and holds the lead. Chase Elliott, who lines up out of the top 10, is told that it’s a long race and there are still 200 laps to go. Kurt Busch and Denny Hamlin follow Larson up front.

8:11 p.m., Lap 164: Chase Elliott misses pit road! He does another lap or two before coming in. The caution comes out just after he’s off. Christopher Bell leads as NASCAR waves the yellow flag for debris. Bell had hit the debris earlier, and it looks like he has slight damage.

Martin Truex Jr. will also pit under caution for a loose wheel. Bell comes in. Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson and Kurt Busch follow Bell up front in the running order.

8:05 p.m., Lap 150: Kyle Busch talks on NBCSN, saying he wasn’t frustrated with Austin Dillon for setting off the wreck, but instead, “Just take our lumps, you know. We were running like sh*t, and that’s what you get when you run like sh*t.”

7:55 p.m., Lap 131: Kyle Larson is still leading, as his teammates try to work their way back into the top of the running order. Chase Elliott is into ninth and William Byron is into 14th. Alex Bowman is still a lap down.

7:42 p.m., Lap 127: The caution comes out after Kyle Busch and Austin Dillon make contact. Dillon gets into Busch, and Busch goes into the outside wall, totaling the right rear of his car. He drives it straight to the garage, and is out of his car in a matter of minutes. Busch joins Michael McDowell on the bench for the rest of this race.

Stage 1

7:38 p.m., Lap 115: Denny Hamlin wins Stage 1 at Darlington after leading 62 laps so far. Kyle Larson follows. Then it’s Kurt Busch, and Ryan Blaney...barely. He beats Kevin Harvick by a hair. Martin Truex Jr., Tyler Reddick, Aric Almirola, Ross Chastain and Joey Logano follow in the top 10. Hamlin wins the race off pit road, with few changes in the running order after the stops.

7:33 p.m., Lap 109: The top three is the same with Denny Hamlin in the lead. Chase Elliott loses a spot to Ross Chastain. Elliott is asked if he need to be freer, and Elliott asks for a moment to think about it. Elliott was in the top-10 after driving back from the previous left front damage.

7:27 p.m., Lap 96: Denny Hamlin leads after green flag pit stops followed by Kyle Larson, Kurt Busch and Ryan Blaney. Brad Keselowski is mired in 15-16th place and Keselowski says he feels like his team took a step backward.

7:17 p.m., Lap 83: Green flag pit stops have started. Denny Hamlin pits from the lead. Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick also pit in top five. Ryan Blaney stays out a lap later, then dips in. “You’ve have better tires than the next three in front of you,” Harvick is told trailing Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Blaney and Kurt Busch.

7:04 p.m, Lap 56: Denny Hamlin leads Ryan Blaney and Kurt Busch. Kevin Harvick is side-by-side with Kyle Larson as Larson drives against the wall. Harvick is taking the low line trying to gain the spot.

7:02 p.m., Lap 50: The caution is out again, this time for Rick Ware Racing cars of Cody Ware and James Davison. Denny Hamlin gains two spots on pit road and leads Kevin Harvick. On pit road, a scary stop for Alex Bowman. A small fire breaks out on his bumper as the team is working on it. They extinguish it. The team (and Bowman) reports that everyone is OK.

6:50 p.m., Lap 40: Kevin Harvick leads Kurt Busch and Denny Hamlin. Corey Lajoie, who started 25th, is into the top 10 for a strong start for the No. 7 team.

6:47 p.m., Lap 34: The caution is out for Michael McDowell, who goes for a big spin after getting loose. His day is done early. Other playoff drivers already have damage, including Alex Bowman, William Byron and Chase Elliott.

6:45 p.m., Lap 25: The competition caution comes out with Kevin Harvick moving into second place just before the flag and Ryan Blaney leading. Harvick gains a position on pit road and is first. Also on pit road, trouble for Chase Elliott. He hits a tire that a tire from the team in front of him was carrying while on his way out of his box. He re-pits for left front damage.

6:33 p.m., Lap 21: The green flag is back out. Tyler Reddick battles with Ryan Blaney but Blaney gets the position. Kurt Busch is leading.

6:24 p.m., Lap 10: Alex Bowman has early damage after tagging the wall. He pits for a tire going down, as the caution comes out. William Byron has damage on the right rear from the contact with Bowman. Kurt Busch goes to the lead just before the caution with Ryan Blaney running second. The two Hendrick cars of Bowman and Byron have dropped to the bottom-20.

6:20 p.m., Lap 2: Pole sitter Ryan Blaney leads the first lap as Kurt Busch quickly moves into second place. Denny Hamlin is third, and says he’s running “a little lose” and then “free overall” after a slow start.

Pre-race

6:17 p.m.: The flyover, invocation and anthem are complete. Engines have been fired and cars are making pace laps. Austin Dillon is dropping to the rear due to multiple inspection failures before the race.

5:50 p.m.: Driver introductions are underway with a small crowd of fans in the infield by the stage. Defending champion Chase Elliott is met with the most animated cheers from the crowd.

5:25 p.m.: Cars are staged on the grid following NASCAR Trucks race at Darlington. Truck Series playoff driver Sheldon Creed scored the win with John Hunter Nemechek finishing second during the In It To Win It 200.

Another NASCAR playoff race is still on the docket. The Cup Series race starts at 6 p.m. but rather than throwing it back at Darlington, NASCAR is looking forward tonight with the Next Gen car debuting for fans. Austin Cindric will pace the field in the Ford Next Gen car ahead of tonight’s Southern 500, Cindric and NASCAR confirmed.

What are the odds, predictions for NASCAR Cup race?

Kyle Larson, NASCAR’s 2021 regular-season Cup champion, starts sixth on Sunday and is the favorite to win, according to bet MGM odds. Daytona 400 winner Ryan Blaney is on the pole with Denny Hamlin in the front row, as determined by NASCAR’s performance-based metric qualifying formula.

Hamlin is one of three playoff drivers without a win this season along with Kevin Harvick and Tyler Reddick. Hamlin and Harvick, however, lead all active drivers in wins at Darlington with three each and could nab a first 2021 victory this weekend at Darlington’s 1.366-mile paved oval.

Read the Observer’s full pre-race predictions here.

How to watch NASCAR Cup race at Darlington

Race: Cook Out Southern 500 When: Sunday, Sept. 5 Time: 6 p.m. EST TV: NBCSN Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Distance: 501.3 miles (367 Laps) with stages ending on laps 115, 230 and 367

NASCAR at Darlington Cup starting order

Order

Driver

Car No.

1

Ryan Blaney

12

2

Denny Hamlin

11

3

Kurt Busch

1

4

Chase Elliott

9

5

Alex Bowman

48

6

Kyle Larson

5

7

Tyler Reddick

8

8

Aric Almirola

10

9

Kevin Harvick

4

10

Martin Truex Jr.

19

11

Joey Logano

22

12

Kyle Busch

18

13

Christopher Bell

20

14

William Byron

24

15

Michael McDowell

34

16

Brad Keselowski

2

17

Bubba Wallace

23

18

Ryan Preece

37

19

Ryan Newman

6

20

Justin Haley

77

21

Austin Dillon

3

22

Erik Jones

43

23

Ross Chastain

42

24

Chase Briscoe

14

25

Corey LaJoie

7

26

Daniel Suárez

99

27

BJ McLeod

78

28

Josh Bilicki

52

29

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

47

30

Matt DiBenedetto

21

31

Cole Custer

41

32

Anthony Alfredo

38

33

Cody Ware

51

34

Chris Buescher

17

35

Joey Gase

15

36

James Davison

53

37

Quin Houff

00