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Hamlin wins Richmond at last


Denny Hamlin has dominated Richmond on several occasions without winning but, on Saturday night, he finally got the payoff he has deserved, leading 299 of 400 laps in the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 to get his first win at his home track.

The win was Hamlin's second of the year and the sixth of his career and helped set aside his past disappointments at Richmond. In spring 2008, Hamlin led 381 laps and finished sixth after cutting a tyre late in the race. Earlier this year, he led 148 laps but finished 14th.

Kurt Busch ran second, followed by Jeff Gordon, while polesitter Mark Martin also secured a place in the Chase with a fourth-place result.

"This is like a Daytona 500 win for anyone else,” the winner enthused, “This is my house. It has been for the last two years, but we just haven't got the win to show for it. Finally, today, our FedEx Toyota showed that we're a championship contender.”

Hamlin, however, had to share the spotlight with Brian Vickers, who drove his way into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with a seventh-place finish at the 0.75-mile short track. Vickers knocked 25th-place finisher Matt Kenseth out of the twelfth and final berth in the Chase, and beat fifth-place finisher Kyle Busch for the position by eight points.

In addition to Vickers and Martin, Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards, Ryan Newman, Juan Pablo Montoya and Greg Biffle also claimed Chase berths, while Hamlin, Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and points leader Tony Stewart were already locked in. The twelve drivers will now be reseeded according to their victories in the season's first 26 races before the ten-race Chase begins next week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. With 40 bonus points for four wins, Martin is set to be confirmed as the Chase's top seed.

The night's biggest casualty was Kenseth, who won't be a part of the Chase for the first time since the inception of NASCAR's play-off system in 2004 after struggling with the handling of his #17 Ford all evening.

“It amazes me that, every week, we don't have any adjustments that help the front tyres and make them happier,” a frustrated Kenseth radioed to his crew on lap 242.

Kenseth's exit leaves Johnson as the only driver who has qualified for all six editions of the Chase, but the suspense wasn't whether Kenseth would fall out of the Chase, but rather whether Busch or Vickers would supplant him.




Related Pictures

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Brian Vickers [Pic credit: Getty for NASCAR]
Denny Hamlin - Joe Gibbs Racing   [pic credit: NASCAR/Getty]
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, celebrates with champagne and crew chief Tony Gibson in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 26, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 26, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 26, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 26, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Daniel Shirey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, wins, causing his crew to celebrate Sunday, April 26, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, races to victory Sunday, April 26, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory with a burn-out Sunday, April 26, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory Sunday, April 26, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 Energizer Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 26, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Cars race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 26, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 26, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Daniel Shirey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
A detail view of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series logo as rain falls prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 25, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
People walk on pit road as rain falls prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on April 25, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #20 Hisense Toyota, and Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, lead the field to start during the NASCAR XFINITY Series ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond International Raceway on April 24, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Daniel Shirey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #20 Hisense Toyota, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR XFINITY Series ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond International Raceway on April 24, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #20 Hisense Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR XFINITY Series ToyotaCare 250 at Richmond International Raceway on April 24, 2015 in Richmond, Virginia.  (Photo Credit: Daniel Shirey/Getty Images)

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