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Hamlin's fourth thwarts Gordon's hopes

On the other end of the Chase fortunes, Matt Kenseth, Martin Truex Jr., Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick all locked into the post-season battle for the Sprint Cup title after their performances at Atlanta, joining Greg Biffle, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson who'd all clinched their Chase spots last week. Tony Stewart is also assured of a Chase spot, the only debate whether he'll make it in as one of the top ten or will have to do it by snatching one of those wild cars slots from Kahne, Gordon and Busch.

A win for Gordon or Busch at the final race before the Chase cut-off would clinch it, one way or another. But even a win is probably too little, too late now for Carl Edwards, and the realisation was sinking in.

"I'm just trying to come to grips with how pivotal this is for our season, how bad it is," he said. ""I don't know. We could still be within distance. Anything can happen and I don't ever quit. This team doesn't ever quit."

Full race results and Saturday practice times, and Sprint Cup championship standings are available.




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