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Hamlin dances to Bristol victory

Also now locks for the Chase are Hendrick Motorsports duo Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne has a strong hold on the first of the two "most wins" wild card spots, but Jeff Gordon is looking increasingly set to be the man left on the outside looking in.

"I'm really proud of this whole race team and am so very proud that we clinched today and am glad that we locked-down the Chase," said Johnson. "That's something that I'm very proud of. We've made it each year. And now it's time to get to work."

"We worked real hard all season and I want to thank my guys," said Earnhardt, having his best season in 2012 in years. They do a good job every week and give me good strategy."

Despite his run in with Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth is also now certain of a Chase spot: even it's not yet a lock on points, at worst he would take one of the wild cards.

"That's one of your goals at the start of the season," said Kenseth. "You can't win the championship without being in the Chase, so I'm happy to be there. It's been a rough four out of five weeks, for sure, so I wish we'd had a better ending tonight."

At present the second wild card spot is held by Kyle Busch, thanks to Ryan Newman's early misfortune at Bristol. However, Busch knows it's a tenuous hold on a Chase spot and could easily be lost in the final two two outings at Atlanta and Richmond before he can breath easy.

Full race results and championship standings are available.




Related Pictures

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Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 25, 2012, in Bristol, Tenn. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
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Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 25, 2012, in Bristol, Tenn. (Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
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Dale Earnhardt, Jr., driver of the #88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS, finishes in second place Saturday night, April 9, 2016 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Brian Cleary for Chevy Racing)
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Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, celebrates winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 9, 2016 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Robert Laberge/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, celebrates with the chequered flag after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, crosses the finish line to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s 75th Anniversary Toyota, leads Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, and Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 3, 2016 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo Credit: Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

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