Saturday, May 8, 2010

Hamlin holds off Busch for Darlington win

2010 Darlington NNS Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch side by side

By Reid Spencer
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service

DARLINGTON, S.C. (May 7, 2010) —Talk about a glutton for punishment.2010 Darlington NNS Denny Hamlin Victory Lane

Less than six weeks removed from ACL surgery on his left knee, Denny Hamlin opted for a weekend double at the track he considers one of the most grueling on the NASCAR circuit.

So far, so good. Staying out on old tires while other contenders came to the pits under caution on Lap 123, Hamlin, in the No. 20 Z-line Toyota, held off teammate Kyle Busch, in the No. 18 Z-line Toyota, who also stayed out, to win Friday night's Royal Purple 200 Nationwide Series race at Darlington Raceway.

Hamlin led the final 63 of 147 laps in winning his 10th race in the series in his second start of the year. On Saturday night, he'll start eighth in the Showtime Southern 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

Hamlin pole NW Darlington"Great race car," Hamlin said in Victory Lane. "Congratulations to (crew chief) Kevin Kidd. This is his first win with Joe Gibbs Racing after taking over for Dave Rogers. When you have a car that drives as good as this one did today, it makes your job a whole lot easier."

Busch had a strong car but couldn't pass Hamlin on a succession of restarts late in the race. Busch pulled even with Hamlin to the inside entering Turn 1 on a restart with five laps to go, but Hamlin had momentum around the outside and gradually inched away to win by .625 seconds.

"If you don't get out first after the last pit stop, you're stuck," Busch said. "You just can't pass out there. It's just so aero-sensitive. You fight for track position here. That's all you can do. Tires don't mean a whole lot, but track position does."

All told, Hamlin led 111 laps and Busch 17. Jamie McMurray finished third, followed by Kasey Kahne and Jason Leffler. Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Brian Vickers and Paul Menard completed the top 10.

2010 Darlington NNS 20 car pit stop

Hamlin's Friday schedule included a two-and-a-half-hour Nationwide practice session, starting at 8:30 a.m. ET, followed by two 90-minute Cup practices, qualifying in both series and, finally, the race.

"I knew it was going to be a challenge," Hamlin said. "I knew it was going to be a very, very long day. I tried to conserve as much energy as possible. I didn't run a ton of laps in Nationwide (practice). I didn't run a ton of laps in Cup.

"I was just trying to conserve some energy for (Friday night) and then for (Saturday). Having all day to rest tomorrow will help."

Keselowski holds a 55-point lead over Busch in the NASCAR Nationwide Series standings.

Results for Friday’s Royal Purple 200:

1. Denny Hamlin    
2. Kyle Busch    
3. Jamie McMurray    
4. Kasey Kahne    
5. Jason Leffler    
6. Carl Edwards    
7. Brad Keselowski    
8. Kevin Harvick    
9. Brian Vickers    
10. Paul Menard    
11. Michael Annett    
12. Steve Wallace    
13. Mike Wallace    
14. Stanton Barrett    
15. Coleman Pressley    
16. Trevor Bayne    
17. Justin Allgaier    
18. Tony Raines    
19. Michael McDowell    
20. Kenny Wallace    
21. Jason Keller    
22. Mark Green        
23. Joe Nemechek    
24. Brian Keselowski    
25. Brian Scott *    
26. Danny Efland    
27. Eric McClure    
28. Chad McCumbee    
29. Steve Arpin    
30. Matt Kenseth    
31. James Buescher *    
32. Mike Bliss     Chevrolet   
33. Brendan Gaughan    
34. Josh Wise    
35. Greg Biffle    
36. Scott Lagasse Jr.       
37. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. *    
38. Kevin Lepage    
39. Clint Bowyer    
40. Danny O'Quinn Jr.    
41. David Gilliland    
42. Derrike Cope    
43. Dennis Setzer    

* Denotes Rookie



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