Hamlin Nabs Checkered Flag in Loudon

LOUDON, NH-Joe Gibbs got his 100th career NASCAR victory as an owner Sunday when Denny Hamlin took the flag at Loudon, New Hampshire’s Sylvania 300. Hamlin, in a Toyota, recorded his fifth win of year in the second installment of the Chase for the Cup. That finish improved his position to third in the Chase , a mere seven points behind leader Jimmy Johnson.Hamlin has run well at Loudon finishing in the top five in the last seven starts here. He took over the lead on lap number 94, holding the lead for a total of 193 laps overall. Hamlin last won in New Hampshire in 2007 and had a the lead this past July at the track, but a miss communication between himself and crew chief Darian Grubb about whether he wanted two tires or four at his last pit stop cost them a better finish.Last week in Chicago he finished 16th after his crew failed to fill up his tank on the final pit stop. Gibbs stated, “He maintained his confidence and that spilled over to the team. “That meant a lot and I think the way you handle things like that, being the guy that’s behind the wheel, I think that’s a big deal.”Hamlin said afterward, “You don’t want to be too cocky but I knew what we were capable of. I know we made a couple of big mistakes, but I said we were fast enough to make it up and that’s what we did.”The leader after two races, Jimmy Johnson, had a strong second place finish. He said, “We had a great racecar but not an amazing car like number 11 had here today.”With eight races left, the top three stand up like this; Johnson, Brad Keselowski, who won last week in Chicago and was 6th in Loudon, and the pole winning Jeff Gordon settled for third in the standing and at the Sylvania 300.Hamlin took home $273,166.00 for the first place purse while Johnson pocketed $204,796.00 for second.