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Hamlin holds off Montoya at Pocono

Rain Delayed NASCAR Sprint Cup race
Monday, August 03, 2009

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Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota, leads the field Monday at Pocono Raceway

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
As it turned out, Denny Hamlin was right ... but not without a struggle, and not without a heavy heart.

Having said Friday that he expected to win the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway, Hamlin charged to the front from the sixth position with 13th laps left in Monday’s rain-postponed race and ended a 50-race drought in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series.

After beating Juan Pablo Montoya to the checkered flag by .869 seconds, Hamlin wept in victory lane, overcome with emotion in the aftermath of the recent deaths of his grandmother, Thelma Clark, and the mother of tire specialist Patrick Mullen at Joe Gibbs Racing.

“We’ve come close in a lot of races this year and come up short,” said Hamlin, who led a race-high 91 laps. “Definitely had some angels with us today. Patrick’s mom passed away—our tire guy—a couple weeks ago and my grandmother a few days ago.

“I was definitely driving aggressive out there, trying to do everything I could to get a win for them. It’s emotional. We had a dominant car with two heavy souls in our racecar today. I said in my mind that I wasn’t going to settle for anything less than a win. With every corner I went in, that was 120 percent.”

With the strongest car in the field car at the 2.5-mile triangular track, Hamlin passed Clint Bowyer for the lead off Turn 1 on Lap 191 of 200 and stayed in front the rest of the way. Montoya slipped past Bowyer for the second spot on Lap 192.

Bowyer finished third, followed by Sam Hornish Jr. and Kasey Kahne. Brian Vickers, Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart completed the top 10.

Starting from the rear after going to a backup car—the result of a wreck in Saturday’s practice—Stewart rallied to salvage his ninth straight top-10 finish but saw his string of top fives end at five. Nevertheless, the Cup points leader expanded his lead in the standings to 197 over second-place Jimmie Johnson, who bounced back from a succession of problems to finish 13th.

The second-place finish was a tonic for Montoya, who had a dominant run the previous week at Indianapolis squelched by a pit-road speeding penalty. Good fortune in the pits helped Montoya at Pocono, when Robby Gordon and David Stremme crashed off Turn 2 moments after Montoya and Hornish had made their final pit stops on Lap 165.

When the rest of the contenders stopped under caution on Lap 167, Montoya and Hornish stayed out, along with Bowyer and Scott Speed, who both had pitted on Lap 158.

“Restarts made it interesting,” Montoya said. “I told (the team), I think we have a car that can win the race. I think the biggest thing was where the 11 (Hamlin) was going to be. I thought I had a car fast enough to hold (off the) 11. I got hit in the last restart, and he passed me.

“I don’t know. Ifs and buts out, my goal is making the Chase. That’s the bigger picture. If I make the Chase, they won’t remember this guy won the race, this one didn’t. The 18 (16th-place finisher Kyle Busch) won three races this year. … You know what I mean? They won’t be talking that he won three races (if he doesn’t make the Chase).”

In fact, Busch gained a position to 13th in the standings at the expense of David Reutimann, who ran 29th after a bump from Hamlin sent him spinning down the frontstretch on Lap 175 (Reutimann fell three spots to 16th). But Busch trails Greg Biffle (15th Monday) by 101 points with five races left before the field for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup is set Sept. 12 at Richmond.

Results

FIN ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 6 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Express 195/10 200 Running
2 10 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target 170/0 200 Running
3 16 33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet The Hartford 170/5 200 Running
4 29 77 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge PPG 160/0 200 Running
5 8 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Budweiser 160/5 200 Running
6 15 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 150/0 200 Running
7 9 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet Cheez-It / Carquest 151/5 200 Running
8 3 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 142/0 200 Running
9 4 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 143/5 200 Running
10 1 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Old Spice Swagger 134/0 200 Running
11 12 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Dewalt 135/5 200 Running
12 23 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 127/0 200 Running
13 2 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 129/5 200 Running
14 7 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet Haas Automation 121/0 200 Running
15 11 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M 118/0 200 Running
16 14 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's 115/0 200 Running
17 27 44 A.J. Allmendinger Dodge Valvoline 112/0 200 Running
18 5 99 Carl Edwards Ford Aflac 109/0 200 Running
19 24 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker 106/0 200 Running
20 20 26 Jamie McMurray Ford Crown Royal 103/0 200 Running
21 17 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 100/0 200 Running
22 30 6 David Ragan Ford UPS 97/0 200 Running
23 37 82 Scott Speed * Toyota Red Bull 94/0 200 Running
24 25 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge Stanley Tools 91/0 200 Running
25 21 07 Casey Mears Chevrolet Jack Daniel's 88/0 200 Running
26 33 98 Paul Menard Ford Moen / Menards 85/0 200 Running
27 19 20 Joey Logano * Toyota The Home Depot 82/0 200 Running
28 22 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Amp Energy / National Guard 79/0 200 Running
29 13 00 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 81/5 200 Running
30 35 34 John Andretti Chevrolet Taco Bell 78/5 200 Running
31 31 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 70/0 198 Running
32 32 12 David Stremme Dodge Penske Racing 67/0 196 Running
33 34 7 Robby Gordon Toyota Robby Gordon Motorsports 64/0 195 Running
34 18 47 Marcos Ambrose Toyota iRacing.com / Kingsford / Clorox 66/5 192 Running
35 26 43 Reed Sorenson Dodge U.S. Air Force 58/0 185 Running
36 28 96 Bobby Labonte Ford DLP 55/0 180 Accident
37 41 36 Patrick Carpentier Toyota Guy Fieri Knuckle Sandwich 52/0 38 Transmission
38 36 09 Sterling Marlin Dodge Miccosukee Resort & Gaming 49/0 36 Transmission
39 39 187 Joe Nemechek Toyota NEMCO Motorsports 46/0 30 Ignition
40 40 66 Dave Blaney Toyota Prism Motorsports 43/0 26 Overheating
41 38 171 David Gilliland Chevrolet National Leiomyosarcom- a Foundation 45/5 24 Alternator
42 43 37 Tony Raines Dodge Long John Silver's 37/0 17 Power Steering
43 42 64 Mike Wallace Toyota Air Combat USA / Fred's Hometown Discount Store 34/0 13 Parked

* Denotes Rookie

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