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Hamlin steals Kansas win from Truex Jr.

Martin Truex Jr. led for 173 of the 267 lap distance of the STP 400 Cup race on Sunday afternoon at Kansas, but Denny Hamlin got the last laugh at the chequered flag.
This weekend's STP 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway looked to be a lock for Michael Waltrip Racing's Martin Truex Jr. - but just when it seemed like a done deal, Denny Hamlin materialised to deny Truex a famous and much-needed victory in the closing laps.

Much of the race had been run under heavy cloud cover over the 1.5-mile oval, and the gloomy conditions suited Truex down to the ground. By contrast, Hamlin's sudden surge for the lead through turn 4 on lap 237 came just as the sun broke through and just after the final round of green flag pit stops. The combination of warmer weather and new tyres was just the tonic that Hamlin's #11 needed to grasp the race away from the winner-presumptive.

"I don't know what happened with that last set of tyres, they were terrible," said Truex after the race. "I couldn't go at all, was just dead sideways, wrecking. At the end of the run, I was back to being okay again, but by then he had already passed me and clean air is everything."

Polesitter AJ Allmendinger had earlier led the race to the green flag for the first 44 laps, but all the while he was cruising in front with Kevin Harvick there was ominous signs that Truex Jr. was implacably on the move up from sixth place. He'd dispatched Harvick for second by the time the first round of green flag pit stops came up around lap 45, and used the visit to pit lane to leap frog himself into the lead for the first time of the day. Allmendinger got held up by Greg Biffle exiting his pit box, and AJ's challenge ended more terminally soon after with problems with the throttle housing on the Penske #22.

The race proved to be a remarkably smooth affair, a total of three cautions (for 18 laps) the lowest seen at Kansas. Two of those were for debris, while the first of them on lap 53 was for a spin by Truex's MWR team mate Clint Bowyer in turn 4. Clint would be able to resume, but then had his engine finally let go on lap 139 to end his day for good.

"It was just a major bummer, I'm really upset — I just wish it wouldn't have happened here," said Bowyer. "This is the nature of the beast, unfortunately this happens from time to time ... It just wasn't our day. We'll regroup and go back after it in Richmond."

After that caution, Truex led Harvick, Kasey Kahne, Brad Keselowski and Hamlin to the green flag, which was a messy, nail-biting affair after Harvick spun his wheels and Hamlin dived down to go three-wide at the restart. Somehow it managed not to be a major wreck, although Kyle Busch made an impression on the rear quarter panel of Greg Biffle's car in the ensuing bumps.

Truex took off and left Harvick and Kahne tangling over second place. Kahne was the first of three Hendrick cars at the front, with Jimmie Johnson in fourth and Dale Earnhardt Jr. a strong sixth. The final member of the squad - which was still seeking Hendrick's 200th team Cup series win - was Jeff Gordon in 12th place.

The next round of green flag pit stops just before the century mark, and saw Kasey Kahne and Kevin Harvick run dry before they could get onto pit road while Jimmie Johnson's crew had an issue with lug nuts. After the pit stops had cycled through, Truex's lead was now up to nine seconds over Denny Hamlin: Hamlin was soon displaced from second spot by Matt Kenseth on lap 116, who tried his best to cut the gap to the leader but made little impression.




Related Pictures

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Martin Truex Jr. charges to the lead during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 400 on Sunday at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan. (Photo Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin celebrates his first Kansas Speedway win in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series on Sunday after the STP 400 in Kansas City, Kan. (Photo Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 McDonald’s Chevrolet SS, finished eighth and Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Great Clips Chevrolet SS, finished 35th Saturday, August 23, 2014 in the Nascar Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, finished fourth and Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet SS, finished twelfth Saturday, August 23, 2014 in the Nascar Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and his team celebrate in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Doublemint Toyota, Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 STP Ford, and Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-hour Energy Toyota, are involved in an on-track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, qualified for sixth position Friday, August 22, 2014 for Saturday evening`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. Johnson is seventh in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS, qualified for second position Friday, August 22, 2014 for Saturday evening`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. Gordon leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmie John`s Chevrolet SS, won the pole position Friday, August 22, 2014 for Saturday evening`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. Harvick is sixth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, poses with the pole award after qualifying fastest for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, poses with his wife DeLana, son Keelan, and the pole award after qualifying fastest for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #19 DrawTire Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 200 presented by ZLOOP at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 21, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #19 DrawTire Ford, poses with the trophy in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 200 presented by ZLOOP at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 21, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #19 DrawTire Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 200 presented by ZLOOP at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 21, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #19 DrawTire Ford, leads Kyle Busch, driver of the #51 Dollar General Toyota, and the rest of the field during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 200 presented by ZLOOP at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 21, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, races to win Sunday, August 17, 2014 in the Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy Johns Chevrolet SS finished second. This was Gordon`s third win of the season. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, celebrates with a burnout after winning the Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race Sunday, August 17, 2014 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. This was Gordon`s third win of the season. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)

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