Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Hamlin Sweeps Darlington!

DARLINGTON, SC – Denny Hamlin certainly entered an exclusive club this weekend sweeping both the Nationwide Race and the SPRINT Cup race at Darlington. Only two other drivers can claim a sweep at this difficult track. Mark Martin did it in 1993 and the legendary Dale Earnhardt in 1987. During the SPRINT Cup race Sunday, Hamlin was running a brilliant race with a great car, and was able to capitalize on mistakes by the other two contenders, Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton. In the closing laps, Jeff Gordon made a rookie mistake by failing to signal to following drivers his intent to pit and was forced to make another lap before entering pit lane. While this may not seem to be a major faux-pas, David Reutimann spun bringing out the caution flag, forcing Gordon to cut his stop short in order to avoid losing a lap. "I don't like making mistakes like that,” commented Gordon after the race.

Jeff Burton, leading at the time of the caution, came out of pit lane in 3rd place, but was flagged by NASCAR for running over his air line, costing him several positions. At the restart, Hamlin was in the lead. With Gordon and Burton in 12th and 13th positions, he had a clear shot to victory. Jamie McMurray finished in 2nd place followed by Denny’s teammate Kyle Busch. Asked about the pit row mishap, Burton said emphatically “We have to make a decision whether we want to be a championship team or do we just want to pretend to be one, I think we're a championship team. I think our guys will get it together and we'll be just fine." Hamlin on the other hand was understandably quite elated. “We went back and forth all night and fine-tuned it to perfection at the end. Right there at the end, it was the best it's been all night. That's all you can ask for."
The new NASCAR spoiler was surrounded by controversy this weekend. Apparently, the wide wing can magnify damage caused by glancing off the wall. "If you get the right rear into the wall hard enough, it'll hit that spoiler and move the deck lid over, which makes it difficult," said Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 Ford. "It's pretty wide, and I'm sure if it does cause problems that NASCAR will look at that and figure out how to narrow it up a little bit.”
Just to show how quickly things can change in NASCAR, Jimmie Johnson had a 108pt lead just 3 races ago. Today he is 110 points down from Kevin Harvick, a swing of 218 points! Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth complete the top 5 in the standings. Stay tuned for Dover next weekend.

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