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Hamlin's victory sets lineup for start of Chase

Sunday, September 12, 2010 | 12:46 a.m. CDT

RICHMOND, Va. — Denny Hamlin went from last to first to the top seed in NASCAR's race for the Sprint Cup championship.

Hamlin snapped a monthlong slump Saturday night with another win at Richmond International Raceway, his home track, by holding off Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch in a dominating Saturday night victory.

It was Hamlin's series-best sixth win of the season and pushed him past four-time defending champion Jimmie Johnson for the top seed in the Chase. The points were reset after Saturday night's race, and Hamlin goes to next week's Chase opener at New Hampshire with a 10-point lead over Johnson.

Columbia native Carl Edwards finished 10th Sunday to close out the point standings in fifth place, but without a win this season, Edwards is seeded ninth in the Chase.

Regular-season points leader Kevin Harvick took the third seed, 30 points behind Hamlin. Busch, also 30 behind Hamlin, gave Toyota and JGR a 1-2 finish.

Kurt Busch, winner of the inaugural 2004 Chase, is the fifth seed, followed by Tony Stewart and Greg Biffle, who secuted his spot in 12-driver field just 30 laps into Saturday night when start-and-park driver Jason Leffler called it a night. Biffle was guaranteed a spot in the Chase by finishing 42nd or better. He wound up 32nd.

Jeff Gordon will be seeded eighth, the first of five drivers winless this season who will start the Chase 60 points behind Hamlin.

Clint Bowyer was the only real driver on the "bubble" at the start of Saturday night, but had a stout car, led 33 laps and finished sixth to grab the final Chase spot.


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