NCS: Alex Bowman beats and bangs Denny Hamlin to claim Xfinity 500 win at Martinsville Speedway

For a short track beating and banging was the message of the day, stage one ended up being a relatively clean stage aside for Ryan Newman who solo spun it and made slight contact with Michael McDowell halfway through the stage.

Through the stage Larson easily cleared the field on two separate occasions controlling much of the stage but as the laps wound on teammate Chase Elliott looking to head to Phoenix and defend his 2020 Championship run would run down Larson and get back both times to take control and finish out the stage with a win.

Hamlin, who would start at the back due to inspection issues, would work himself up close to the top-20 only to get hit on pit road under the competition caution for speeding, sending him once again to the back. By the time the stage would end Hamlin worked himself up into the 14th spot but was still the last of the running drivers chasing the final three open spots for Phoenix.

Another playoff driver Ryan Blaney would tangle with Austin Dillon in the stage while running well inside the top-10 only to sustain damage to the rear of the car and cause handling issues that would see his first stage marred with drivers passing him due to handling issues caused by the contact.

As pit stops got underway during the stage break Larson would run down Elliott on pit road trying to get the lead but getting tagged for speeding to send him to the rear of the field on the restart for stage two.

Blaney’s issues would continue throughout stage two as he fell well behind the other playoff drivers as handling issues plagued his car.

As laps in stage two began to wind down Austin Dillon would cut a tire on his car to bring out the 4th allowing Blaney to come in and make an extended repair to his car.

Stage two would end the same as stage one with Chase Elliott taking the stage win to collect enough stage points for a confirmed spot to race for a championship in Phoenix joining Kyle Larson who won last week at Kansas. Hot in tow would be two other Hendrick teammates of Bowman and Byron.

Blaney would begin his recovery after the damage he received in stage one to finish out the stage in 13th along with Keselowski inside the top-10 with an eighth-place finish in the stage, but Logano would be the last of the drivers running for the championship contention back in 18th.

In a weird sequence that saw the cars of Quinn Houff and Josh Bilicki at the rear of the field and multiple laps down get together in turn four. But that wasn’t enough for Houff who got into Bilicki under the caution, spinning him several corners later. For that Houff would be parked on pit road for a five-lap penalty which irritated NASCAR for spinning Bilicki near a safety vehicle.

As desperation picked up and laps winding down Keselowski and Elliott would go at it for nearly a dozen laps for the 3rd spot. Beating, banging, and pinching between the two would end up with Elliott spinning to bring out the 12th caution of the day but Keselowski would get passed by Byron prior to the flag coming out leaving Keselowski in the fourth position with a restart coming up.

With back-to-back cautions coming out for a pair for JTG Racing machines of Stenhouse spinning first followed right behind by Preece who would take his car to the garage in the 14th caution of the day.

Chaos would ensue shortly following the restart with Bowman and Hamlin hamming on one another for the lead with it ending in Hamlin spinning after the two made contact. Hamlin’s car would end up backing up against the wall and finally getting his car refired. By virtue of the free pass Bubba Wallace would get back on the lead lap in the 25th spot and Hamlin needing to finish 26th or better.

Bowman would end up with a tire rub on the car and with the lead the final restart of the day was underway with Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski both in desperation mode behind Bowman and needing to win to advance.

When it finally all shook out Bowman would take home the win in the Xfinity 500 at Martinsville Speedway but as Bowman came back to the start finish line to celebrate Denny Hamlin was close in tow blocking the effort of Bowman trying to celebrate.

“I just got loose in. I got in too deep, knocked him out of the way and literally let him have the lead back. For anybody that wants to think I was trying to crash him, obviously wasn’t the case considering I literally gave up the lead at Martinsville to give it back to him. He’s been on the other side of that. He’s crashed guys here for wins. I hate doing it. Obviously I don’t want to crash somebody. I just got in, got underneath him, spun him out.” Said Bowman

As Bowman attempted to inch around Hamlin would ride his nose to the No. 48 machine and block the way before giving way and Hamlin headed to pit road obviously disgusted with Bowman and his driving.

“He’s just a hack. Just an absolute hack. He gets his ass kicked by his teammates every week. He’s terrible. He’s just terrible. He sees one opportunity, he takes it.” Said Hamlin

Kyle Larson will be joined by the 2020 series Champion Chase Elliott along with the duo of Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin. Penske Race for their effort of three cars in the round of eight would come up empty handed leaving Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney all missing out with Kyle Busch.

The 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season will conclude at Phoenix Raceway next Sunday, November 7 at 3 p.m. ET.