Hamlin dominates again at Pocono
|By Diego Mejia||Monday, June 7th 2010, 01:33 GMT|
Denny Hamlin claimed his fourth Sprint Cup series win of the season in dominant fashion in an eventful race finish at Pocono Raceway.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver led 88 of the race's 204 laps, taking a perfect score from the weekend at what is arguably his best track on the calendar. In nine races at the 2.5-mile tri-oval, Hamlin has won four times, taking back-to-back wins twice.
Richard Childress Racing's Clint Bowyer had shown the way for most of the first half of the race but after Hamlin passed Kevin Harvick a few laps after the second caution of the day, he became the benchmark at the front of the field.
Only his team-mate Kyle Busch was able to steal the lead from him temporarily in one of the late restarts, as fuel calculations seemed to be the only real worry for Hamlin in the closing stages of the race.
However an incident between Roush Fenway's David Ragan and Earnhardt Ganassi's Jamie McMurray with 33 laps remaining took any fuel-saving strategies out of the equation for the leaders, as they all pitted for a short splash in order to make it to the chequered flag.
Hamlin charged back up front after his stop and opened up a decent gap to Stewart-Haas's Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch, but his cushion vanished as a late caution waved on the penultimate lap, as Joey Logano spun following contact with Kevin Harvick while fighting for fourth place.
This allowed Hamlin's rivals a shot at him in the green-white-chequered finish, but as the green flag waved, the 29-year-old put all his pace to good effect to keep his pursuers at bay and win for the fourth time this year.
"We just flat drove through those guys, and it was similar to what our win was here last year," said Hamlin, who jumped up two places to third in the standings and leads the series for number of wins thus far. "It was just a great car, and the best it was all day was that last run."
The race ended with the caution flags waved as chaos unfoled on the backstraight when Kasey Kahne lost control while trying to overtake his Richard Petty Motorsports' team-mate AJ Allmendinger on the final lap.
Mark Martin and Greg Biffle crashed hard into Kahne's Ford, with several other cars, including Jeff Gordon's, also involved in the multi-car wreck.
Busch was able to pass Stewart for second at the last restart, while Harvick held on to fourth in the end, keeping the points lead for yet another week. However he had to face a furious Logano who confronted him in the pits after the race, team personnel having to intervene.
Reigning champion Jimmie Johnson was fifth ahead of Kurt Busch, who recovered well from a brush with the wall, a pitroad penalty and being a lap down in the middle of the race to finish sixth.
RCR's Jeff Burton was seventh, ahead of EGR's Juan Pablo Montoya, who ran a similar fuel strategy to Kurt Busch to gain track position in the fifth caution of the day, scoring a top-10 finish after struggling with balance and brake issues on his car as well as a pitroad speeding violation he had to serve under green flag conditions.
Early pace-setter Bowyer was ninth in the end, while Allmendinger rounded out the top-10.
Pos Driver Car Laps 1. Denny Hamlin Toyota 204 2. Kyle Busch Toyota 204 3. Tony Stewart Chevrolet 204 4. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 204 5. Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 204 6. Kurt Busch Dodge 204 7. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 204 8. Juan Montoya Chevrolet 204 9. Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 204 10. A.J. Allmendinger Ford 204 11. Sam Hornish Jr Dodge 204 12. Carl Edwards Ford 204 13. Joey Logano Toyota 204 14. Ryan Newman Chevrolet 204 15. David Reutimann Toyota 204 16. Paul Menard Ford 204 17. Matt Kenseth Ford 204 18. Regan Smith Chevrolet 204 19. Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 204 20. Scott Speed Toyota 204 21. Brad Keselowski Dodge 204 22. Travis Kvapil Ford 204 23. Casey Mears Toyota 204 24. David Stremme Ford 204 25. Martin Truex Jr Toyota 204 26. David Ragan Ford 204 27. Kasey Kahne Ford 203 28. Greg Biffle Ford 203 29. Mark Martin Chevrolet 203 30. Marcos Ambrose Toyota 203 31. Elliott Sadler Ford 203 32. Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 203 33. David Gilliland Ford 202 34. Max Papis Toyota 200 35. Kevin Conway Ford 199 36. Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 167 37. J.J. Yeley Dodge 40 38. Bobby Labonte Chevrolet 32 39. Michael McDowell Toyota 27 40. Dave Blaney Toyota 24 41. Geoffrey Bodine Chevrolet 23 42. Chad McCumbee Toyota 22 43. Joe Nemechek Toyota 11