Back-to-Back Wins for Hamlin

Denny Hamlin

Hamlin celebrates his fourth win of the season and the 21st of his career. (Photo: Getty Images)

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Denny Hamlin outran Jeff Gordon on a green-white-checkered finish to win his second straight NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in Sunday night's Advocare 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Hamlin posted his fourth win of the season and moved to the top of the Chase seedings with NASCAR’s playoffs only two weeks away.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver followed up his Bristol win last Saturday with his 21st career victory.

"I wanted this one real bad," said Hamlin. "The car faded a little bit, but the pit crew won me that race. That's what a championship team is all about. This year, I think we have it all."

The race appeared to be Martin Truex Jr.’s, with the Michael Waltrip Racing driver enjoying nearly a three second advantage over Hamlin as the laps wound down Sunday night.

But Jamie McMurray blew a right-front tire and crashed with five laps to go to bring out the caution flag. Hamlin’s crew got the No. 11 Toyota off pit road first as the leaders all came in for service. On the restart Hamlin maintained the top spot finally holding off a hard charging Gordon for the checkered flag.

“First, I wanted to win to be the No. 1 seed," Hamlin said. "Second is that was going to knock my teammate out of the Chase, and we couldn't afford that. I'm a Joe Gibbs blood guy for life. We need Kyle (Busch) in there, and if Jeff won that race, it was going to be all over."

Gordon was upset with his approach to the final laps after the race ended.

“I wish I had that one to do over again,” said Gordon. “… What a battle. You know going into this race that it’s going to be a fight. … I’m just mad at myself right now. I guess I’m just getting soft in my old age. I’m too nice. Fifteen years ago, I would have moved him up the race track.”

Gordon, Brad Keselowski, Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top five.

Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Paul Menard, Matt Kenseth and Mark Martin completed the first ten finishers.

Last year’s championship runner-up Carl Edwards saw his Chase hopes go up in smoke literally when he had an engine blow. The Roush Fenway Racing driver finished 36th and now needs a miracle next week at Richmond to make the playoffs.

"The real big picture? I'm not a real religious person, but I feel like somebody's trying to teach me a lesson," Edwards said. "This year has just been amazing in a bad luck kind of way.

"We're going to Richmond where anything can happen. Hopefully, whatever happens it involves us winning the race and making this Chase. We don't quit, but it's almost too much to put into words, so frustrating and shocking that this can happen."

Another Wild Card contender took a big hit when Ryan Newman was caught in a multi-car accident with Jimmie Johnson and Sam Hornish Jr.

“I got run out of room. It looked like the 48 just ran everybody out of room,” said Newman, who fell to 17th in points. “We’ve got one more chore to do — go to Richmond and win. We’ve done it before, we can do it again.”

Ten drivers are now locked into the Chase: Greg Biffle, Earnhardt, Kenseth, Johnson, Truex, Jr., Keselowski, Hamlin, Clint Bowyer, Harvick and Tony Stewart, who has at least a Wild Car berth.

Kasey Kahne and Busch still hold the two Wild Card spots with one race left in the regular season.

The Sprint Cup Series heads to Richmond Int’l Raceway for next Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400.

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, Denny Hamlin

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