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Saturday, December 27, 2014
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Published: Sunday, 8/19/2007

Hamlin runs away with Busch victory

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Denny Hamlin celebrates after winning the Carfax 250. His
winning margin of almost 7 seconds was the widest this year. Denny Hamlin celebrates after winning the Carfax 250. His winning margin of almost 7 seconds was the widest this year.
PAUL SANCYA / AP Enlarge

BROOKLYN, Mich. - Denny Hamlin was bored, and his crew chief wasn't exactly busy.

So toward the end of yesterday's Carfax 250, Hamlin made a frantic call to Dave Rogers over the radio, insisting that he was running low on fuel.

"I made him jump the wall, I'm sure," Hamlin said.

He was having a little fun at Rogers' expense.

Hamlin's nose didn't grow as a result of his fib, at least not as much as his lead over the field at Michigan International Speedway, where he won his second Busch Series race of the season in a dominating way.

Hamlin and his No. 20 Rockwell Automation Chevrolet were brilliant, leading the final 40 laps and finishing nearly seven seconds ahead of second place Matt Kenseth.

"I figured I could coast anyway, even if I did run out [of gas]," Hamlin said.

Kevin Harvick, second in the points standings, finished third, followed by Jeff Burton and polesitter Greg Biffle.

Carl Edwards finished a disappointing 28th but is still atop the season standings by 700 points with 10 races remaining.

Yesterday was far less frustrating for Hamlin than Friday, when his car hit a wall during practice. He qualified fifth later that day.

"I definitely did not want to give these guys anymore work than they already had," Hamlin said.

"I can't say enough about those guys who put the car back together, even better than the way it was."

Hamlin's 6.998-second margin of victory is the largest of the Busch season. He will start eighth in today's Nextel Cup 3M Performance 400.

Yesterday's race included more Nextel Cup drivers than usual because the Busch season is winding down and because many automobile company representatives are here this weekend.

Kenseth, who will start 21st today, had his two-race Busch winning streak snapped. He led 29 laps but ultimately gave way to Hamlin.

"Me and Denny were having a heck of a race there in the middle of the race, going back and forth, and we just didn't adjust on the car enough that last pit stop," Kenseth said. "We got the car too tight and didn't get out of the pits quick enough, and that was the difference."

An anticlimactic, if not dull race, was postponed by just three cautions, each lasting two laps.

Harvick cut into Edwards' point standings lead with a steady third-place finish. After 10 laps, Harvick never fell below sixth but never rose above third.

"Our car was really loose, and we got better through the day," Harvick said. "We didn't really make it better at the beginning of the run, but we did get better through the middle of the race and on toward the end of the run."

HORNISH STRUGGLES: Defiance native Sam Hornish Jr. was a nonfactor, finishing 25th after starting 21st.

He nearly ran into Tony Stewart early in the race when Stewart spun out and nearly caused a multicar wreck. Stewart finished 30th.

HARD START: David Reutimann began 14th but found himself in an upward battle early on when he came in contact with the No. 25 car driven by David Gilliland. Reutimann was in 40th after 10 laps but rebounded for a 16th-place finish. He remains third in the series standings, 30 points behind Harvick.

"The 25 ran over us about four laps into it like we weren't even there," Reutimann said. "I was on the outside of him, and he just killed the front of our car. From that point on we lost all our track position. Our race was over before it even began."

BAD LUCK: Brad Keselowski of nearby Rochester Hills ran out of gas on the final lap and coasted to a 13th-place finish. Keselowski, the top rookie finisher, was applauded when he crawled across the finish line.

"We knew we were going to be close," he said. "You're here to race, and we were racing, and toward the end we weren't going to get any better. I saved as much as I could and just ran out."

Contact Ryan Autullo at:

rautullo@theblade.com.



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