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Kahne wins after Hamlin gets over-tyred

Hamlin closed to under a second, but that was as close as it got: the fairytale comeback was not to be, Kahne claimed the win and Hamlin was left listening to the profuse apologies of his crew chief over the radio: "That was 100 per cent my fault," said Grubb.

"Darian asked me how much of the tires I felt like I used up," explained Hamlin. "I said I felt like I used them up a substantial amount: I'd been on the lefts for quite a few laps, and so my information to him was that, yeah, we'd used up the tyres. He said, 'I think two is the call.'

"I said 'Okay, just give me tyres and no adjustments,'" he continued. "He took that as I meant four tyres. Just that small communication messed us up a little bit."

However, Hamlin shrugged off the disappointment and said that even if all had gone well, the victory was no sure thing: "Nothing's a given. Even though it was pretty obvious that we had a win in the bag if we took two tyres, you never know what could have happened."

Second is still no small achievement. Bowyer, Earnhardt Jr., Keselowski and Gordon rounded out the top six with Johnson pushed down to seventh place ahead of Kevin Harvick.

"We had a great race car," said Johnson. "There was a lot of speed in the car. It was the Gibbs cars and the Hendrick cars, and at times I was the best Hendrick car running top two, two three. But then that caution put us back in traffic. We still got through there, decent."

As for Harvick, he admitted that eighth was about right for the #29. "We finished about where we should have," he said. "Our car was really tight to the centre of the corner and we never could fix that without making it too loose off."

In the Sprint Cup championship, Matt Kenseth continues to lead by a margin of 16pts over Dale Earnhardt Jr., despite what by any standards was a phenomenally bad day for the Ford stable at Loudon. After Greg Biffle in ninth, Kenseth was the top Ford-powered car in New Hampshire in Sunday - but that was in a distant 13th place.

"We didn't have one of the best cars, it seems we struggle here as a company a little," he said. "We could never get it good enough to run with the real good guys, so then it's really about pit stop strategy and restarts. We got it back there at the end and was faster than the three or four cars in front of me, but I just couldn't figure out how to pass them."

The next of the Ford runners, Carl Edwards, finished in 18th place at the back of the lead lap; Marcos Ambrose finished in 19th as the first car off the lead.




Related Pictures

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A miscommunication on a late pit stop between Denny Hamlin and crew chief Darian Grubb dropped Hamlin from the lead to 12th. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kasey Kahne crosses the finish line to win the LENOX Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet SS finished 2nd, Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet SS finished 7th Saturday, April 12, 2014 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Darlington Raceway in Darlington South Carolina. Earnhardt Jr. is 4th, Gordon is 1st in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. Teammate Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS won. (Photo Credit: HHP/Alan Marler for Chevrolet)
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