LOUDON, NEW HAMPSHIRE – Denny Hamlin was the dominant force Sunday at the Lenox 301. Leading the race for much of the first half, Hamlin lapped the likes of Tony Stewart, Jamie McMurray and Paul Menard and at one point enjoyed a 5.5 sec lead on second place Kasey Kahne. By lap 187, Kahne had closed up the gap to 2.6 seconds when the NASCAR caution flag waved due to debris on the track. A blown engine for Reutemann on lap 232 brought the flag out again and Hamlin made a visit to the pits. Unfortunately for Hamlin, a miscommunication between Denny and Crew Chief Darian Grubb led to taking on 4 tires instead of 2, resulting in a loss of 12 positions. Undaunted by the sudden change in the race, Hamlin still had the fastest car and 4 fresh tires, so started a final fight to the front. By Lap 253, Hamlin had climbed to sixth. On Lap 257, he got by Biffle in Turn 1 for fifth. He took Harvick by Lap 263, Earnhardt on Lap 272 and Bowyer on 277.
Kahne commented, "I was definitely focused on the lapped cars I was going by and how I could clear them quick," Kahne said. "But I lost a ton of forward drive, and I was getting pretty loose, and Denny was coming on four [tires].” Now running in 2nd place behind Kahne, Denny made steady progress, but 24 laps was just not enough. Denny seemed to take the missed victory in stride, “Just that small communication messed us up a little bit, but nothing's a given. Even though it was pretty obvious that we had a win in the bag if we took two tires, you never know what could have happened. Either way, we had a great day, and we're going to build on it."
Matt Kenseth finishing 13th maintained his championship lead by 16 points in front of second-place Earnhardt, with Biffle in third, 40 points back. Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin are in fourth and fifth places. % places are fixed for the Chase. Kahne’s win at New Hampshire places him as the top wildcard.
In other NASCAR news, AJ Allmendinger tested positive last week for a banned “stimulant” during a random drug test. Allmendinger has asked to have the other half of the test sample tested to see if there was some test anomaly. Penske has said that if the test is clean, AJ will be behind the wheel of the 22 car. “We're just waiting to get the second test results,” he said. “The situation will take care of itself, so I'm more concerned about A.J. as an individual... if A.J.'s clean, he'll absolutely be in the car at the next race.” ( http://www.autoweek.com/article/20120715/nascar01/120719910#ixzz20oknk1oF ).
Also, Jeff Gordon is enroute to Rwanda for an opening of The Butaro Cancer Center of Excellence with funding from the Jeff Gordon Children’s Foundation. He will be attending with former President Bill Clinton to raise funds and awareness of cancer on the continent. "I'm excited," he said. "It's going to be a very short trip, but it's one that I'm really looking forward to getting back there. It's such a beautiful area." ( http://www.autoweek.com/article/20120715/nascar01/120719909#ixzz20oloj1Zg).