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Hamlin Pulls Away for Nationwide Win at Dover

Denny Hamlin
Denny Hamlin
DOVER, Del. (May 31, 2008) Denny Hamlin extended the domination of Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Saturday with a convincing 1.154-second victory over Carl Edwards in the Heluva Good! 200 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Dover International Speedway.

The race, which started three hours late because of rain, wasn't the only victory for Hamlin, who won for the second time this season and the seventh time in his career.

Hamlin also won $200 in side bets with Kyle Busch and Michael Waltrip when teammate Joey Logano, 18, finished sixth in his series debut. Hamlin had bet Logano would finish in the top seven, but for a while, the wagers were in jeopardy.

Hamlin's win marked the eighth straight time and 10th time in 14 Nationwide events this year that a full-time Sprint Cup driver for Joe Gibbs Racing has won a Nationwide race.

David Stremme gained track position with a two-tire pit stop on Lap 155 and held off a determined charge from fourth-place finisher David Reutimann. Greg Biffle passed Logano in the closing laps to run fifth, followed by Logano, Brad Keselowski, Mike Wallace, series points leader Clint Bowyer and Kasey Kahne.

"It was fairly uneventful," Hamlin said. "We just bided our time at various times during the race and pulled away at the end. If you can get out there in clean air, your car can really take off. We definitely improved on our car, and I think our car was the strongest it had been all day at the end.

Edwards had nothing for the race winner over the final 28-lap green-flag run.

"It was all right," Edwards said of the result. "Second's no fun. It's not what we come here for. But my hat's off to Denny. He did a great job. I just wish I could have got up to him."

Stremme was pleased with his car's performance, but needed to find a way to get to the front -- hence, the pit strategy on his final stop.

"We took two tires at the end, and we felt that was a good choice," said Stremme, whose previous best finish at Dover was 16th. "Our car was strong all day. We just couldn't get track position."

Logano was forced to showcase his talent early in the race, after contact with Kahne's Dodge on pit road during the race's first caution necessitated a return trip to the pits. Logano restarted 28th on Lap 26, but by the time caution flew for the second time on Lap 46, he had gained 11 positions.

Under the subsequent 52-lap green-flag run, Logano worked his way up to eighth and gradually improved his position during the remainder of the race, until Biffle passed him in the closing laps.

"We were a sixth-place car and finished sixth," Logano said. "Overall it was a good day. I was hoping for that top five, but I screwed up in the pits and put myself in a position that I didn't need to. We'll see what happens next."

Busch led 68 laps, but a series of mishaps dropped him back in the field and ultimately knocked him out of the race. Busch entered the pits as the leader on Lap 105, but contact between his No. 32 Toyota and Keselowski's No. 88 Chevrolet brought both cars back to pit road under the third caution of the race.

Busch worked his way back to eighth, where he was running on Lap 169, when Braun Racing teammate Jason Leffler lost control of his No. 38 Toyota and knocked Busch into the Turn 2 wall. Busch, who finished 28th, held on to second place in the series standings but fell to 121 points behind Bowyer.

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