Every driver does something for charity, whether it’s visit a hospital, donate money to a charity, or hold a charity race, which Denny Hamlin did Thursday night in the “Denny Hamlin Short Track Shootout.” The field, comprised of thirty-six cars, including NASCAR drivers: Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Michael Waltrip, Tony Stewart, Aric Almirola, Travis Pastrana and Bill Elliott, and up-and-comers: Max Gresham, Matt McCall, Brandon McReynolds, Chase Elliott, and Darrell Wallace, Jr. All of these drivers were racing for charity, but were also racing for a $7,500 purse.
The three things I found interesting? First, Denny, who was supposed to start fifth, decided to start last. Second, Chase Elliott, the fifteen-year-old son of Bill Elliott, out-qualified his NASCAR-veteran dad, Bill Elliott. Last, but not least, the thing the drivers and fans both liked…they got to pick what lane they started in on the restart.
Time for the race to begin! Not quite. The race started two hours late because of the K&N Pro Series race that was under rain delay. When the 75-lap race started at 10pm ET, everyone was surprised when on lap one, there was a nine car crash, caused by Brandon Butler in the #29 when he got loose and spun, causing our first Red Flag. Since they didn’t complete the first lap, they restarted from the beginning, in their original starting spots. On the second attempt at lap one, Kyle Busch took the lead from Matt McCall and Joey Logano is scored the fastest car and biggest mover on restarts. The race was somewhat boring until lap 45 when the Competition Caution (or ‘Half-time’) came out. Joey Logano, the fastest car, had a carburetor issue and never gained back his spots. When the race resumed, Aric Almirola found out that he lost his breaks and was done for the night. With ten laps to go, a caution came out. Everyone was looking for and asking about the debris. Turns out, it was a planned caution. With six laps to go, Kyle Busch (the leader) got slightly into the 76 of Wallace and Wallace spun out, causing Max Gresham to hit the back of Wallace, taking out both Wallace and Gresham. This was the cause of Red Flag number two. When they restarted, there were two laps to go. When the White Flag waved, it was time for Denny Hamlin (who had never won one of his charity events) to go. He surged past Kyle Busch, who ran out of fuel, and won the Shootout!
Now, for the charity aspect of this event. Denny decided to donate 10% of the ticket sales to the people of the South who are dealing with the devastation from the tornadoes. All the other proceeds will be donated to the Denny Hamlin Foundation, who supports Cystic Fibrosis.
Check out the Denny Hamlin Foundation website http://www.dennyhamlinfoundation.org/