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Martin Truex Jr. of Denver's Furniture Row Racing Team clinched NASCAR's regular-season title

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Posted at 10:00 PM, Sep 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-04 00:00:40-04

 DARLINGTON, S.C. (AP) -- Denny Hamlin overcame a bad miss of the pit road entrance to chase down Martin Truex Jr. with three laps left to win the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway on Sunday night.

   Hamlin checked up after sliding by the entrance with 54 laps left and fell behind Truex by 20 seconds. But Hamlin slowly reeled in Truex and passed him when his rival brushed the wall and got a flat tire.

   Hamlin swept throwback weekend at Darlington after winning the Xfinity race Saturday. Truex won the first two stages, clinching NASCAR's regular-season championship and gaining the No. 1 seed heading into the playoffs in two weeks.

"I was driving my guts out at the end trying to hang on," Truex said. "It's unfortunate we blew the tire, but I'm really proud of everybody on this team for an amazing season so far.

"To lock up the regular-season points is a huge accomplishment for us, for our team. We've come a long way in just a few years together. I wish we could have won, but that's the breaks."

Truex has the most playoff points of any driver. Not including points for where drivers finish in the regular-season standings, Truex has 37 playoff points -- 17 more than second-place Kyle Busch, who finished second in Sunday's race. Kurt Busch was third. Austin Dillon finished fourth, and Erik Jones was fifth.