Rookies Round-Up Texas Success

The 2006 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series rookie class did itself proud on Sunday.

With Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex, Jr. finishing in the top 10 and Reed Sorenson scoring a 13th-place finish, the first-year brigade was impressive.

Hamlin led 41 laps in Sunday's race in his second NEXTEL Cup Series start at Texas. After finishing seventh in his debut last November, the young driver now has two TMS top 10s to his credit.

"I got worried there toward the end," said Hamlin. "Our car was at its worst on the second-to-last run and we fell back. I hated that we might not be the top finishing rookie."

Not only was Hamlin the top freshman driver, he has taken over the lead in the Raybestos Rookie Standings.

Truex, Jr. posted his first top-10 run of the season, bringing the DEI Bass Pro Shops Chevy home to an eighth-place finish.

"I was real proud of our run," Truex said. "I'm very competitive and 20th and 15th and stuff like that just doesn't cut it for me. It's not cool to get beat all of the time."

Sorenson might have had an even better finish than his 13th if not for a pit road penalty when he stopped outside of his pit box late in the race.

"Man we had a great car today," said Sorenson. "It's unfortunate we lost all of that track position there at the end. I was trying to give myself some room to get out and just didn't quite get in the box. That's a pretty hard pill to swallow, but on the bright side of things, we were a contender today. We were one of the fastest cars towards the end of the race."

One other rookie was headed for a solid finish until getting caught in a late race mishap. Clint Bowyer, who was in the top five after a two-tire last pit stop, crashed on the final lap.

"We were behind and we just made a last-ditch effort and put two tires on the left side," Bowyer said. "It was a good call and it would have worked out good. If we could have had one caution between there we would have been sitting pretty, but unfortunately we kept getting looser and looser. We just got loose over there (off Turn 2 on last lap). I got sideways, but Kyle (Busch) pretty much drove through me, so what goes around comes around."

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