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Hamlin takes rain-delayed Texas win

Winner Denny Hamlin takes the chequered flag just ahead of Jimmie Johnson, Texas, 2010Denny Hamlin claimed his second win of the year in a wild rain-delayed event at Texas Motor Speedway.

As in Martinsville, where the Sprint Cup series also raced on a Monday, the Joe Gibbs racer emerged up front following the final restart, which followed a multi-car incident that took out some of the main contenders of the day with 17 laps remaining.

Jeff Gordon, who had led 124 laps and looked to be the favorite to grab victory, made contact with Tony Stewart while charging back up front following a four-tyre change on his last stop during the previous caution.

Stewart's unsettled Chevy was then hit in the back by the Roush Fenway Ford of Carl Edwards, turning it into Gordon's side and igniting chaos as both went against the wall on the frontstretch.

The Hendrick driver and his Stewart-Haas colleague, who had led nearly two-thirds of the race between them, ended their race on the spot, as did Edwards and at least three others, including Juan Pablo Montoya.

Jeff Burton led the field to the final green flag of the day only 12 laps from the end after pitting for fuel only, while Hamlin had taken on two new tyres and restarted from second for the final sprint. The Richard Childress driver immediately struggled against those on fresher rubber, surrendering the lead to Hamlin, also being passed by Kyle Busch.

Behind them Jimmie Johnson, first among those on four new tyres, tried to make his grip advantage work for him in the closing laps, picking up rivals lap by lap.

He had a close moment trying to pass his Hendrick Motorsports team-mate Dale Earnhardt Jr, and the time he lost there probably cost him in the end, as he finished second just over a tenth of a second behind Hamlin, who won for the second time in the last three races, only 19 days after having surgery on his left-knee to repair a torn ligament.

"The late-race crash triggered by contact between Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon, Texas, 2010It was just one of those days where every run we got our car better," said Hamlin after winning for the fourth time in his Cup career on a Monday. "Every run the pit crew did a good job of getting us some spots. It all paid off in the long run. We had one of those days where it showed how strong our race team is.

"Every little piece of it was very strong, from the pit crew to the car to the driver getting better through the course of the race, and our race car kept getting better. So, all those things put together showed right at the end."

Johnson had luck on his side once again, as had it not been for the penultimate caution, he probably would have found himself out of the equation for victory. He was forced to go out of secquence with the leaders due to a damaged left front tyre, a consequence of contact with his team-mate Gordon while batting for second place on lap 241.

The reigning champion went a lap down when he pitted for a deflated left front 31 laps later. As others pitted for the final time under green, he got back on the lead lap, but he was still around nine laps short on fuel when David Reutimann's expiring Toyota forced the sixth caution of the day, which the leaders used to pit once again, bringing Johnson back in to contention.

"We had that left front tyre go down and then we were fortunate enough to catch a caution when we did," said Johnson. "There at the end, the car was just dragging the nose too bad for the first couple of laps. I think we sat too long and the front tyre pressures dropped.

"I lost a few spots. I almost hit the wall down in one and two trying to work the top. Once those front tyre pressures came in and the splitter got off the ground, I started coming but it was like a lap too late."

Kyle Busch would eventually finish third, manhandling a very loose JGR Toyota, ahead of the Penske Dodge of his sibling Kurt, while Kasey Kahne's Richard Petty Motorsports Ford rounded out the top five.

Dale Earnhardt Jr had been a factor at the front of the field for most of the race, but found himself shuffled down to eighth place in the end.

Johnson continues to lead the points ahead of Roush Fenway's Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle.

Pos  Driver             Car        Laps
 1.  Denny Hamlin       Toyota      334
 2.  Jimmie Johnson     Chevrolet   334
 3.  Kyle Busch         Toyota      334
 4.  Kurt Busch         Dodge       334
 5.  Kasey Kahne        Ford        334
 6.  Mark Martin        Chevrolet   334
 7.  Kevin Harvick      Chevrolet   334
 8.  Dale Earnhardt Jr  Chevrolet   334
 9.  Martin Truex Jr    Toyota      334
10.  Greg Biffle        Ford        334
11.  Ryan Newman        Chevrolet   334
12.  Jeff Burton        Chevrolet   334
13.  A.J. Allmendinger  Ford        334
14.  Brad Keselowski    Dodge       333
15.  David Ragan        Ford        333
16.  Scott Speed        Toyota      333
17.  Marcos Ambrose     Toyota      333
18.  Elliott Sadler     Ford        333
19.  Sam Hornish Jr     Dodge       333
20.  Matt Kenseth       Ford        332
21.  Regan Smith        Chevrolet   332
22.  Max Papis          Toyota      332
23.  Bobby Labonte      Chevrolet   332
24.  Travis Kvapil      Ford        331
25.  Bill Elliott       Ford        331
26.  Robby Gordon       Toyota      329
27.  Kevin Conway       Ford        329
28.  Joey Logano        Toyota      329
29.  David Gilliland    Ford        328
30.  Jamie McMurray     Chevrolet   319
31.  Jeff Gordon        Chevrolet   317
32.  Tony Stewart       Chevrolet   317
33.  Carl Edwards       Ford        317
34.  Juan Montoya       Chevrolet   317
35.  Paul Menard        Ford        317
36.  Clint Bowyer       Chevrolet   316
37.  David Reutimann    Toyota      310
38.  Brian Vickers      Toyota      192
39.  Reed Sorenson      Toyota      121
40.  Joe Nemechek       Toyota       75
41.  Michael McDowell   Toyota       60
42.  Mike Bliss         Chevrolet    50
43.  Dave Blaney        Toyota       20
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