RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Martin Truex Jr. has won the first stage in the NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Richmond Raceway.
Truex, the defending series champion, started third but grabbed the lead. He was followed by pole-sitter Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott and Kurt Busch.
The stage was especially eventful for local favorite Denny Hamlin.
Hamlin, who grew up about 20 miles from the track, started the night 16th in the playoff standings and with hopes of winning stage points and a top finish. He got spun by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. about halfway through the opening stage, had to pit under a green flag and scrambled to get back on the lead lap before the stage was over. By the time the stage was completed on lap No. 100, Hamlin had climbed all the way back up to the ninth position.
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