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Hamlin holds off Johnson in Texas

NASCAR Sprint Cup race
Monday, April 19, 2010

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Denny Hamlin celebrates his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win of the season in Victory Lane at Texas Motor Speedway. Monday races must agree with Hamlin – his other win this season was at Martinsville, which also was delayed by weather.
Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR
Denny Hamlin might have had a hard time climbing in his race car because of his bum knee but he certainly had no problem climbing from 29th starting position to Victory Lane.

Hamlin, who had knee surgery recently, held off a hard-charging Jimmie Johnson to win Monday’s Samsung Mobile 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway.

A big crowd, in excess of 100,000, braved two days of steady rain and hung around for a race that delivered what Texas is known for – extraordinary things.

A multi-car accident just 20 laps from the finish set the stage for the blazing shootout between Hamlin and Johnson. The four-time Sprint Cup champion took on four tires at the finish while Hamlin took only two and Johnson whittled Hamlin's lead from three seconds to thousandths of a second.

It was Hamlin's second win of the season and boosted him back in the top 12 in the points positions. He won at Martinsville earlier this season and took advantage of the Easter Break to have his knee repaired, an injury suffered in a pickup basketball game.

Denny Hamlin crosses the start/finish line to take the checkered flag and win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
His win Sunday came after race leader and four-time champion Jeff Gordon, along with other frontrunners, were eliminated in a free-for-all accident on an earlier restart. With Jeff Burton leading at the time, Tony Stewart, Gordon, Carl Edwards, Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer, Juan Pablo Montoya, Jamie McMurray and Paul Menard wadded up on the frontstretch trioval with every one of them gunning for the front. It was one of those racing accidents where you just cannot pack twenty pounds in a two-pound sack.

Hamlin, Johnson and Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch managed to dodge the wreck and wound up capturing the top three spots in the race.

Rounding out the top 10 finish positions were Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne, Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Martin Truex, Jr., Greg Biffle and last week's race winner Ryan Newman. Burton wound up eleventh. 

NASCAR threw a precautionary- caution at Lap 25 so teams could take a look at tire wear on the green race track. Two days of steady rain, two inches in the local area, had washed away whatever rubber was on the race track.

Pole-sitter Stewart led the first 20 laps then Biffle moved in front before the mandatory competition caution fell. When racing resumed on Lap 33, Biffle was still out front, but  Stewart quickly took the lead and Kyle Busch moved into second. Johnson was third and Earnhardt had moved into fourth. Biffle dropped back in the field, down to seventh.

By Lap 50, Johnson had taken the lead. Stewart was second, Earnhardt third, Gordon fourth and Bowyer fifth. At this early point in the race, it appeared Johnson was liking the new spoiler that replaced the wing on the rear of the car. Monday was the first race on a big track with the spoiler. The spoiler was raced for the first time this year at Martinsville and most drivers said they couldn't tell much difference.

At 60 laps, the top 10 consisted of Johnson, Stewart, Earnhardt, Gordon, Bowyer, Burton, Edwards, Montoya, Kahne and Biffle.

Earnhardt took over second place on Lap 67. Ten laps later, he passed Johnson for the lead.

The caution came out on Lap 80 for debris on the track after Brian Vickers spun when his Toyota cut a right rear tire.

When the race resumed on Lap 84, Stewart was back out front with Earnhardt second. Another caution on Lap 100 for debris on the track (Vickers' Toyota had another tire problem) slowed the field again. Johnson told his crew he might have run over Vickers' tire carcass before the caution.

When the track was cleaned up and the green flag waved again at Lap 107, the front of the pack was sprinkled with cars that only took two tires, including leader Earnhardt, Burton, Gordon, McMurray and Stewart.

Sam Hornish brought out another caution on Lap 110. The restart on Lap 116 had Earnhardt out front with McMurray second. However McMurray, the Daytona 500 winner, took over the top spot one lap later. Reutimann, Hamlin and Kurt Busch were running in the top five. Burton dropped way back in the field (23rd) after running up front all day as the result of a pass-through penalty for hitting the commitment cone on pit road.

Earnhardt, meanwhile, regained the lead on lap 127 when he took the high line around McMurray in Turn 1. Earnhardt's performance at this point in the race had the Earnhardt Army of fans sitting on top of the world. It has been a long, dry spell since Earnhardt won a race - his last victory coming at Michigan in 2008, 64 races ago.

By the halfway point of the race, Gordon and Johnson were back up front and Earnhardt was back in 18th due to pit cycles. Gordon led with Johnson second but Montoya took second when Johnson pitted and then took the lead when Gordon pitted. Montoya pitted in sequence with Gordon and Johnson and that put Earnhardt back out front again.

Results

FIN ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 29 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Ground 190/5 334 Running
2 4 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 175/5 334 Running
3 7 18 Kyle Busch Toyota Interstate Batteries 165/0 334 Running
4 11 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 165/5 334 Running
5 5 9 Kasey Kahne Ford Budweiser 155/0 334 Running
6 30 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet HendrickCars.com / GoDaddy.com 150/0 334 Running
7 19 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 146/0 334 Running
8 9 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Amp Energy / National Guard 147/5 334 Running
9 14 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 138/0 334 Running
10 3 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M Post-it 139/5 334 Running
11 10 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet U.S. Army ROTC 130/0 334 Running
12 6 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 132/5 334 Running
13 17 43 A.J. Allmendinger Ford Insignia / Best Buy 124/0 334 Running
14 37 12 Brad Keselowski Dodge Abyss by Mobigloo 121/0 333 Running
15 13 6 David Ragan Ford UPS 118/0 333 Running
16 23 82 Scott Speed Toyota Red Bull 115/0 333 Running
17 32 47 Marcos Ambrose Toyota Tom Thumb / Viva 112/0 333 Running
18 39 19 Elliott Sadler Ford Hunt Brothers Pizza 109/0 333 Running
19 2 77 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge Mobil 1 106/0 333 Running
20 28 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Crown Royal Black 103/0 332 Running
21 26 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row Companies 100/0 332 Running
22 27 13 Max Papis Toyota GEICO 97/0 332 Running
23 41 71 Bobby Labonte Chevrolet Rick Perry for Governor 94/0 332 Running
24 35 34 Travis Kvapil Ford Long John Silver's 96/5 331 Running
25 36 21 Bill Elliott Ford Motorcraft / Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center 88/0 331 Running
26 38 7 Robby Gordon Toyota Monster Energy 85/0 329 Running
27 40 38 Kevin Conway * Ford Extenze 82/0 329 Running
28 18 20 Joey Logano Toyota The Home Depot 79/0 329 Running
29 31 37 David Gilliland Ford Taco Bell 76/0 328 Running
30 15 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker 78/5 319 Accident
31 12 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet National Guard Special Forces / DuPont 80/10 317 Accident
32 1 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Office Depot / Old Spice 72/5 317 Accident
33 20 99 Carl Edwards Ford Scotts Turf Builder 64/0 317 Accident
34 21 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target 66/5 317 Accident
35 25 98 Paul Menard Ford Quaker State / Menards 58/0 317 Accident
36 8 33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Cheerios / Hamburger Helper 55/0 316 Accident
37 16 00 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 52/0 310 Engine
38 42 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 49/0 192 Accident
39 43 132 Reed Sorenson Toyota Dollar General 46/0 121 Electrical
40 22 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota Crosby Roofing 43/0 75 Transmission
41 33 66 Michael McDowell Toyota Prism Motorsports 45/5 60 Transmission
42 34 09 Mike Bliss Chevrolet Phoenix Construction / GracewayPharmaceuticals 37/0 50 Vibration
43 24 55 Dave Blaney Toyota Prism Motorsports 34/0 20 Susp.

* Denotes Rookie

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