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Hamlin wins Sylvania 300

The SportsXchange

LOUDON, N.H. - Jimmie Johnson is the new points leader in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, but Denny Hamlin is back as a major threat.

Hamlin dominated Sunday's Sylvania 300, the second race in the Chase, to score his fifth win of the season. Johnson finished second to Hamlin but jumped in front of Brad Keselowski to claim the points lead and continue his search for a sixth national championship.

Entering the third race in the Chase next week at Dover, Del., Johnson has a one-point lead over Keselowski and a seven-point edge over Hamlin.

Hamlin seemed like he was a calendar page in front of the rest of the field Sunday. He led 193 of the 300 laps and was never seriously challenged for first after he charged through the field to take the lead for the first time on lap 94.

Hamlin built a lead that reached six seconds and survived several caution-flag restarts to easily stay out front. The day was a bit of redemption for Hamlin, who led 150 laps at Loudon in the July race but finished second to Kasey Kahne after a late-race pit miscue.

Hamlin outran Johnson by 2.67 seconds for the win. Third through fifth were Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer and Kahne. Chase drivers filled the top seven spots.

"I kept waiting for him (Hamlin) to make a mistake, and he wouldn't," Johnson said of Hamlin. "He did a great job."

NOTES: Carl Edwards isn't in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, but he's busy. The 99 team is using the rest of this season to build for the next. Edwards said the team is working on faster pit stops, improved qualifying and better balanced race cars. "I would say those are the three biggest things, that if we could fix all three of those things each week, we'd have a lot better chance of winning," Edwards said. ... The oldest race winner at New Hampshire Motor Speedway - Mark Martin - is still driving on the Sprint Cup tour, but he wasn't in Sunday's race. Brian Vickers drove the Michael Waltrip Racing No. 55 Toyota Sunday. Martin, who won at NHMS in 2009 at the age of 50, is sharing the 55 with Vickers and team co-owner Michael Waltrip this season. ... Hamlin's victory Sunday is Joe Gibbs Racing's 100th Sprint Cup win. Hamlin has won 22 of that total. ... The Chase moves on to Dover International Speedway next weekend for Race Three. Johnson won at Dover in June.
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