With careful pass, Hamlin nets his first Sprint Cup win at Bristol
Win moves Denny Hamlin into tie for top seed in Chase for the Championship.
BRISTOL, Tenn. — Denny Hamlin moved toward the top seed in NASCAR's championship race by using a calculated late pass to win for the first time at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Hamlin flirted with Carl Edwards for the lead late in the race, and set up the move with 39 laps remaining Saturday night. Hamlin used a slide move to get past Edwards, then held on as Edwards tried to use a cross-over move to get back in front.
It didn't work for Edwards, and Hamlin drove away for his third victory of the season.
"My biggest win, this is such a great feeling," said Hamlin, who praised the setup crew chief Darian Grubb used for the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
"It just hauled the mail. This is just a big win, I don't know how else to explain it."
There's two races left before the field is reset for the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship, and seeding is done by "regular-season" wins. With three victories, Hamlin is tied with defending champion Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski for most in the series.
The four would be tied for the top seed right now, but all want at least one more win to break the logjam.
"We're not done winning yet. We've still got a few more to go," Hamlin promised.
Johnson finished second and clinched a berth in the Chase, as did Greg Biffle and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Jeff Gordon was third — giving Hendrick Motorsports' Chevrolets second and third — followed by Brian Vickers in a Toyota and Marcos Ambrose in a Ford.
Kyle Busch was a quiet sixth, Clint Bowyer was seventh and Joey Logano, winner of the Nationwide Series race Friday night, was eighth.
Enumclaw native Kasey Kahne and Paul Menard rounded out the top 10. Edwards ended up 22nd.
Power wins 3rd straight pole in Sonoma
SONOMA, Calif. — When Will Power won his third straight pole Saturday for the IndyCar race in Sonoma, he didn't just put himself in prime position to go for his third straight victory in wine country.
That single standings point awarded to the pole winner also increased his overall IndyCar lead by nearly 17 percent.
That's how close the standings are bunched heading into the final three races of an entertaining IndyCar season. Power boosted his lead over Ryan Hunter-Reay to six points with his fourth pole of the year, and only 29 points separate the top four drivers.