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Denny Hamlin rises above chaos for Sprint Cup victory at Pocono

LONG POND, Pa. — Denny Hamlin is so enamored with the No. 11 Toyota he won in Sunday at Pocono that he has asked team owner Joe Gibbs if he can keep it when it's retired.

Then Hamlin, celebrating after his fourth career Sprint Cup victory at the quirky 2.5-mile oval, wound up tapping the wall during his burnout.

Oops.

"Obviously I wouldn't want to damage a car that I'm a future owner of," Hamlin said with a sheepish grin while sitting next to Gibbs.

Hamlin's fourth win this season, in the Gillette 500, vaulted him to third in points. Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch, the pole-sitter, finished second. Tony Stewart was third, followed by points leader Kevin Harvick and four-time defending series champion Jimmie Johnson.

As Hamlin was smoking the tires, teammate Joey Logano was on pit road confronting Harvick after Harvick knocked Logano out of the top five on Lap 198, tapping Logano from behind and sending him skidding.

The outburst from the normally reserved 20-year-old caught NASCAR's attention. Logano went to speak to series officials afterward.

He didn't go without taking a dig at Harvick first.

"It's probably not (Harvick's) fault," Logano said. "His wife wears the firesuit in the family, tells him what to do, so it's probably not his fault."

Logano rebounded to finish 13th after skating through a last-lap, multicar wreck.

Stewart, despite his best finish since March, called the racing of a series of late restarts "idiotic" and left little doubt that he'll seek payback starting next week in Michigan.

"I've seen some of the worst driving I've ever seen in my life in a professional series right here today," he said. "So for anybody that's looking for drama for the next couple races, start looking because I can promise I'm going to start making the highlight reel."

The start was delayed 90 minutes by rain then another 10 minutes as officials patched a pothole at the end of pit road inadvertently opened by a jet dryer.

Hamlin led 88 of 204 laps but his two-second lead was wiped out when the Harvick-Logano incident brought out a caution. On the green-white-checkered restart, Hamlin drew away from Busch, with whom he feuded after their run-in at last month's All-Star Race in Charlotte.

As Hamlin roared away, a massive wreck swallowed nine cars. Kasey Kahne tried to pass Richard Petty Motorsports teammate A.J. Allmendinger on the inside, but Allmendinger moved his car down to block. Kahne went into the grass, still wet from the rain, and lost control, veering into traffic and briefly spinning atop the retaining wall.

"I don't know what AJ was doing there," said Kahne, who was 27th. "I don't ever really talk to him much, but you can bet I will be talking to him this week."

Allmendinger took responsibility but said he was defending his turf.

Busch led four times for 32 laps but wasn't complaining after his best finish at a track which he admits isn't his favorite.

"Denny has this place figured out," Busch said. "I did the best I could. I went from about an 'F' at knowing how to get around here today to about an 'A,' and an 'A' didn't get it done."

Denny Hamlin rises above chaos for Sprint Cup victory at Pocono 06/06/10 [Last modified: Sunday, June 6, 2010 10:39pm]
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