Find out more about our subscriptions

Hamlin takes Richmond Cup victory

Denny Hamlin celebrates Richmond victory 2009Denny Hamlin claimed his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win of the season at Richmond, while Brian Vickers got the last spot available in the Chase in dramatic fashion.

Hamlin took a well deserved maiden win in NASCAR's top series at his home track, after battling up front for most of the night with Jeff Gordon, then fending off Penske's Kurt Busch at the end following the final restart with 14 laps to go.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver led 298 out of the 400 scheduled laps and his victory got him a 10-point bonus, which allows him to start the series' play-off in fourth place next week, only 20 behind the new leader, veteran Mark Martin.

"You know, today everything just came together," said Hamlin. "We had good pitstops and didn't make any mistakes, so we just kind of paced ourselves at the beginning," said Hamlin.

"The #24 [Jeff Gordon] was really good there at the beginning and had some good racing with him. Just kind of sizing him up, seeing what he had in case I had to race him towards the end.

"Over the last 12 weeks we've just been extremely strong and excited about the Chase. We've got some great tracks for us coming up there. Hopefully that burnout didn't hurt this car because I need it."

Busch's second place secured him a place in the Chase as well, while Gordon recovered from contact with Clint Bowyer following a late restart to finish third ahead of his Hendrick team-mate Martin.

However the real battle of the night unfolded between Matt Kenseth, Brian Vickers and Kyle Busch as the three of them fought it out for 12th place in the drivers' standings, the last available spot in the title battle.

Kenseth had qualified badly and from 28th on the grid his race turned out to be a struggle. He never quite found the balance, nor the speed to move up in the order enough to maintain his position inside the top 12 in the championship. Some pitstop dramas further complicated his night.

Once Kenseth dropped a lap down, Vickers and Busch concentrated the interest as their small margin in the points meant that they continuously swapped between being in and out of the Chase.

Despite Busch finishing fifth and ahead of the Red Bull driver, in the end Vickers' seventh place secured him a place in the play-off for the first time in his career and in just the third season for his squad in NASCAR's top series.

"Real proud of everybody at Red Bull and Toyota," said Vickers. "This is not just one race - this has been a culmination of 26 races, nobody giving up.

"Two-and-a-half years ago we started this programme and we never would have believed that we would have been this far along - six poles, a win and now we're in the Chase. I don't know what to say I'm so proud of everybody."

Clint Bowyer was best of the non-Chasers in the end with sixth place, three ahead of his team-mate Kevin Harvick on a day of resurgence for Richard Childress Racing, a team that will not be represented in the Chase.

Sam Hornish Jr impressed once again with eighth place while Ryan Newman rounded out the top ten, also securing a place in the play-off.

Juan Pablo Montoya crossed the line in 19th place, but secured his place as the first non-American ever to enter the Chase for the Sprint Cup, also giving Chip Ganassi the first shot at the Sprint Cup title since the play-off format was implemented.

Pos  Driver             Car        Laps
 1.  Denny Hamlin       Toyota     400
 2.  Kurt Busch         Dodge      400
 3.  Jeff Gordon        Chevrolet  400
 4.  Mark Martin        Chevrolet  400
 5.  Kyle Busch         Toyota     400
 6.  Clint Bowyer       Chevrolet  400
 7.  Brian Vickers      Toyota     400
 8.  Sam Hornish Jr     Dodge      400
 9.  Kevin Harvick      Chevrolet  400
10.  Ryan Newman        Chevrolet  400
11.  Jimmie Johnson     Chevrolet  400
12.  Kasey Kahne        Dodge      400
13.  Greg Biffle        Ford       400
14.  Joey Logano        Toyota     400
15.  Carl Edwards       Ford       400
16.  Reed Sorenson      Dodge      400
17.  Tony Stewart       Chevrolet  400
18.  Jeff Burton        Chevrolet  400
19.  Juan Montoya       Chevrolet  400
20.  David Reutimann    Toyota     400
21.  Dale Earnhardt Jr  Chevrolet  400
22.  Marcos Ambrose     Toyota     400
23.  AJ Allmendinger    Dodge      400
24.  David Gilliland    Toyota     400
25.  Matt Kenseth       Ford       400
26.  David Stremme      Dodge      400
27.  Jamie McMurray     Ford       400
28.  Paul Menard        Ford       399
29.  John Andretti      Chevrolet  399
30.  Casey Mears        Chevrolet  398
31.  Bobby Labonte      Ford       398
32.  Michael Waltrip    Toyota     398
33.  David Ragan        Ford       398
34.  Elliott Sadler     Dodge      396
35.  Joe Nemechek       Toyota     396
36.  Scott Speed        Toyota     396
37.  Max Papis          Toyota     394
38.  Brad Keselowski    Chevrolet  376
39.  Martin Truex Jr    Chevrolet  325
40.  Regan Smith        Chevrolet  174
41.  Michael McDowell   Toyota     113
42.  Mike Bliss         Chevrolet  38
43.  Dave Blaney        Toyota     36

  More news  
Read the AUTOSPORT Digital Edition
Visit the shop
See highlights from 60 years of AUTOSPORT
Breaking news feed
Live commentary feed
Johnson: Martin will be a title threat
Martin jumps up to Chase lead
Busch heartbroken at missing Chase
Vickers praises team for Chase spot
Martin claims Richmond Cup pole