2010-10-28 / Sports

Hamlin Wins, Gains Chase Points

By Gerald Hodges THE RACING REPORTER

Denny Hamlin Denny Hamlin MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Polesitter Denny Hamlin’s win in Sunday’s Tums 500 was the third consecutive victory for him at the Martinsville track. More importantly, it allowed him to gain valuable points toward this year’s Sprint Cup Championship. He now trails Jimmie Johnson by only six points.

Hamlin started from the pole but quickly dropped back into the field of cars. His team later discovered the problem was a bad tire. After taking on a fresh set of tires, he began to work his way back to the front.

“I don’t think I’ve ever closed that well,” said Hamlin. “We just kept working. We didn’t have a top-20 car until near the end.”

“The pit crew got me from sixth to third on the last restart, and that was the key.”

“I was hoping Jeff Burton and Kevin (Harvick) would use their stuff up. I was sitting there, just waiting. I saved my tires until the end, and it was just a great run for us.”

Perhaps the biggest story and surprise of the day was the second-place finish by Mark Martin. He had spun out earlier, but at the end, he was closing on Hamlin.

“It was so much fun, but it was such a bad day,” said Martin. “I was running out of brakes at lap 30. I thought it was going to be the longest day of my life.”

“We needed this. I ain’t mad we didn’t win, I’m glad we finished second.”

The runner-up finish was the best Martin has had this season.

Kevin Harvick finished third and gained 15 points on Johnson. Prior to the race, car owner Richard Childress had decided to switch teams between Harvick’s No. 29 car and the No. 33 driven by Clint Bowyer.

“As soon as I leave here, I’m going to go down and give Clint a big kiss, because those guys from his team were phenomenol,” said Harvick. “We kept ourselves right up near the front at the end of the race, and that’s what we’ve got to do.”

“We kept the 48 behind us and the 11 car in sight. Those are the two teams everyone said made up a two-horse race. But I think we showed people there’s another horse to reckon with.”

Kyle Busch finished fourth.

“For awhile I thought me and the 29 and 11 was just going to ride together all day long,” said Johnson, who finished fifth. “They took off and got going, but it’s something we can’t be disappointed in.”

Joey Logano was sixth.

Seventh-place finisher, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was the leader of the race from lap 365-378.

Carl Edwards, Jeff Burton and Brad Keselowski were the remaining top 10 finishers.

Jeff Gordon gave Kurt Busch a love tap near the middle stages of the race. One lap later, Busch put Gordon into the outside wall. Gordon wound up finishing 20th, two laps down.

Tony Stewart had a flat on his No. 14 with 10-laps remaining and finished 24th.

Chase leaders with four to go: 1. Johnson-5998, 2. Hamlin-5992, 3. Harvick- 5936, 4. Kyle Busch-5826, 5. J. Gordon-5795, 6. Edwards- 5785, 7. Stewart-5762, 8. Burton 5752, 9. Kurt Busch- 5721, 10. Kenseth-5705, 11. Biffle-5682, 12. Bowyer-5592

Keselowski wins last Gateway race

MADISON, Ill. – Brad Keselowski passed Mike Bliss with less than two laps remaining to win the Nationwide Series race at Gateway Speedway. It was the final NASCAR race at the 1.25- mile track.

Keselowski was 200 yards from victory in the July race at Gateway when he was knocked into the wall by Carl Edwards and finished 14th.

He had to start in the rear of the field Saturday, after arriving from Sprint Cup Series practice in Martinsville, Va., but still was able to lead 83 of the 200 laps en route to his second consecutive victory and sixth of the year.

Justin Allgaier, Jason Leffler, Carl Edwards, Reed Sorenson, Josh Wise, Brad Coleman, Paul Menard and Jeremy Clements were the remaining top-10 finishers.

Keselowski, the Nationwide Series standings leader, was unable to clinch the 2010 driver title but could do so in two weeks at Texas. He is 485 points ahead of secondplace Edwards and needs to leave Texas with a 391-point lead over second place in order to claim his first NASCAR title.

Top-10 points leaders after 32 of 35: 1. Keselowski- 5144, 2. Edwards-4659, 3. Kyle Busch-4439, 4. Allgaier- 4067, 5. Menard-4067, 6. Harvick 3902, 7. Bayne-3633, 8. Leffler-3593, 9. Logano-3557, 10. S. Wallace-3554

Hornaday gets first-ever Martinsville win

Ron Hornaday Jr. powered around Kyle Busch on a green-white-checkeredflag restart to win his first Camping World Truck Series victory at Martinsville Speedway.

The win was the fourtime truck series champion’s second of the year and the 47th of his career. Busch ran second, followed by series points leader Todd Bodine, Jason White and Aric Almirola. Mike Skinner, David Starr, Stacy Compton, Ricky Carmichael and Matt Crafton completed the top 10.

The race went six laps beyond its scheduled distance of 200 laps after a succession of cautions slowed the action three times in the last 20 laps. The 11th and final caution of the race, caused by Cody Cambensy’s spin on lap 197, forced the race to overtime.

Four women – Johanna Long, Jennifer Jo Cobb and twins Amber and Angela Cope – started the race, the most ever in any of NASCAR’s top three touring series. Long, who came home 22nd, had the best finish of the four.

Mike Skinner, who is eighth in points, remains the only driver currently competing in the Camping World Truck Series who won during 2009, and is still searching for a victory.

Skinner has captured at least one victory per season since 2005.

Top-10 points leaders after 21 of 25: 1. Bodine-3371, 2. Almirola-3089, 3. Sauter- 3001, 4. Dillon-2923, 5. Crafton-2907, 6. Hornaday- 2877, 7. Peters-2834, 8. Skinner 2699, 9. Starr-2650, 10. White-2535

Weekend racing: The NASCAR season is winding down. The Cup and truck teams have four races each left, while the Nationwide teams only have three. The Cup and trucks are at the 2.66- mile Talladega Speedway this weekend. The Nationwide teams have an off weekend.

Sat., Oct. 30, Camping World Truck Series Mountain Dew 250, race 22 of 25; starting time: 3:30 p.m. ET; TV: Speed Channel.

Sun., Oct. 31, Sprint Cup AMP Energy 500, race 33 of 36; starting time: 1 pm ET; TV: ESPN.

Racing trivia question: When was Talladega Superspeedway opened?

Last week’s question: Why did the U.S. government ban automobile racing in July 1942? Tires and gasoline were rationed during World War II, and in order to save supplies for the war effort, automobile racing was banned.

You may contact the Racing Reporter at: hodgesnews@ earthlink.net

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