Hamlin Bests Johnson at Martinsville

MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Denny Hamlin outlasted Jimmie Johnson Sunday at Martinsville for his third Sprint Cup win of the season. Hamlin led three times for 206 laps of the 500-lap race.

“I’ve got to thank all my fans for sticking with me after those last two races where we weren’t able to finish,” said Hamlin. “There’s hope. The last two weeks are in the past.

Denny Hamlin posted his third Sprint Cup victory of the season Sunday in Martinsville, Va.
Denny Hamlin posted his third Sprint Cup victory of the season Sunday in Martinsville, Va.
“On those restarts I knew those guys behind me were going to be aggressive, but we just had the best car. The 48 didn’t do anything he shouldn’t have, and protected his points lead as well.”

Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48, finished second and increased his lead in the Chase by 28 points.

“The car just lacked a little bit of forward bite,” said Johnson. “The back of the car was turning a little too much. Denny had the best car on that last run. I wish we could have won, but there is nothing bad about second when you don’t have the best car.”

Juan Montoya finished third and moved up one spot, from sixth to fifth in Chase points.

“Here is a place you don’t want to wreck anybody,” said Juan Montoya. “Payback is really bad, but you’ve got to respect everyone. We did what we had to do, and we had a good race.”

Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman, Mark Martin, Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart were the remaining top-10 finishers.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. continues to struggle. He had tire problems two different times, including a blown tire that caused him to hit the outside wall during lap 130. He finished 29th, one lap down.

With four races left, the battle for this year’s Chase championship is between Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon. The other nine drivers are out of it.

Top 12 Chase leaders with four remaining races: 1. Johnson-6,098, 2. Martin-5,980, 3. J. Gordon-5,948, 4. Stewart-5,902, 5. Montoya-5,898, 6. Kurt Busch-5,861, 7. Newman-5,786, 8. Biffle-5,748, 9. Hamlin-5,746, 10. Edwards-5,685, 11. Kahne-5,659, 12. Vickers-5,568.

Top 10 Nationwide Series leaders: 1. Kyle Busch-5,179, 2. Edwards-4,964, 3. Keselowski-4,922, 4. Leffler-4,184, 5. Allgaier-3,743, 6. Bliss-3,684, 7. S. Wallace-3,626, 8. Keller-3,574, 9. Gaughan-3,563, 10. Annett-3,298.

Top 10 Camping World Truck Series leaders: 1. Hornaday-3,375, 2. Crafton-3,151, 3. Skinner-3,049, 4. Bodine-2,815, 5. Scott-2,805, 6. Braun-2,797, 7. Peters-2,768, 8. Sauter-2,762, 9. Starr-2,694, 10. Crawford-2,694.

For more sports news, pick up a copy of The Ellsworth American.


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