(AP Photo/Steve Marcus)
LAS VEGAS (AP) Denny Hamlin will reach the third round of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs next month having faced the make-or-break pressure of the postseason only twice.
Ending the first race of each postseason round in victory lane can do wonders for the blood pressure of a driver and his team, because every winner clinches a spot in the following round.
Hamlin won three weeks ago at Darlington to open the playoffs, and then he did it again Sunday night at Las Vegas in the second-round opener. He is the first driver to win the first race in each of the first two rounds since NASCAR introduced this playoff format in 2014.