Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender Denny Hamlin sealed a remarkable Pocono sweep with a comfortable victory in Sunday's Pennsylvania 500.

The driver of the #11 Joe Gibbs Racing FedEx backed Chevrolet cantered to his second career Nextel Cup victory at the 2.5-mile triangular shaped circuit to complete a perfect year in the beautiful Pennsylvania hills.

The Bud Pole winner led comfortably at the start, opening up a massive lead in the opening 20 laps before a 'competition caution' from NASCAR to evaluate the new left hand side tyres in place for this event.

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The 25-year old Hamlin continued to pace the field throughout the three and three-quarter hour marathon, leading 100 of the final 107 laps to finish a year that has seen him take both pole positions and both race wins at a track he drove for the first time on June 9th.

Penske Racing's Kurt Busch, one of several drivers fighting to keep themselves in touching distance of the Chase for the Championship, emerged as Hamlin's closest competition in the second half of the 200-lap race. However Busch could only get within a second and a half of the leader in the final 20-lap green flag run after battling his way past Jeff Gordon.

Gordon held on for third, like Busch grateful for a good result at a critical time in the season and also thankful for getting through the race unscathed after a massive crash in turn one last month.

Gordon's Hendrick Motorsports teammate Brian Vickers continued his fine run of form with a fourth place finish while Kevin Harvick, points leader Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart rounded out the top seven.

The day was an eventful one for Stewart, who was penalised a lap by NASCAR in the early stages for pushing rookie Clint Bowyer into Carl Edwards on the front straight. After fighting to get his lap back Stewart's recovery was hindered by a retaliatory shove from Edwards on pit road, that resulted in the same penalty for the driver of the #99 Roush Racing Ford.

Bobby Labonte had a fine run for Petty Enterprises to eighth place while Jeff Burton fell back after holding the lead for more than 20 laps in the early stages. Rookies Martin Truex Jr and JJ Yeley finished tenth and eleventh with Kyle Busch recovering from a lap down to take 12th.

In the points table, both Hamlin and Stewart were able to climb back into the Chase for the Championship while Busch moves up to 13th, just 166 points outside the top ten.

On the losing side of the points situation were Edwards, Greg Biffle and Dale Earnhardt Jr. The damage incurred in the Stewart/Bowyer incident had already put Edwards a lap down to the leaders before NASCAR imposed their own penalty for the subsequent shove on Stewart. The combination of damage and penalty resulted in Edwards finishing in 39th place and dropping behind Busch in the championship, more than 230 points out of the top ten.

Biffle slipped to 12th overall after finishing 24th on Sunday while Earnhardt Jr fell to 11th in points after Dave Blaney pushed him into the outside wall on Long Pond straight, terminally damaging his #8 DEI Chevrolet and leaving him 43rd and last for the second race in a row.