Hamlin claims win at Kansas

Denny Hamlin celebrates after capturing his first victory at Kansas and second win of the season.

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Denny Hamlin held off hard-charging Martin Truex Jr. down the stretch on Sunday to win at Kansas Speedway for the first time.


Truex had dominated most of the race, but Hamlin had gone to the front when his car hooked up under the first sunshine of the afternoon. Truex mounted a comeback, diving low with a couple laps left, but he couldn’t make the move stick and Hamlin pulled away.

He coaxed his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota the rest of the way for his second win this season.

Truex wound up leading a race-high 173 laps but had to settle for second, his third top-5 finish of the season. He still hasn’t won in 175 Sprint Cup races.

Jimmie Johnson finished third for Hendrick Motorsports, which has failed in 14 tries to win the team’s milestone 200th race. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne also finished in the top 10.

“I was just watching from the third spot, hoping those guys would give me an opportunity,” Johnson said. “I just wish I was closer to those guys to race for it.”

Hamlin’s best finish at Kansas Speedway was third last year, and for most of Sunday he was content to ride around during long green-flag runs away from the spotlight.

He kept getting better with each stop, though, and his car seemed to hook up after the final one, when the sun finally broke through on a blustery, overcast day.

Truex said that his final set of tires might have cost him. He was looser than he had been all afternoon with the final set, and that allowed Hamlin to build enough of a buffer to hold off his final charge. Truex was five lengths down with five laps left, but pulled even with two to go.

“I guess if we can be this frustrated with second, it tells you how close we are as a team,” said Truex, who hasn’t won since Dover in 2007. “The race car was really good. I’m just not really sure what to think about that last set of tires. I was just wrecking-loose that last set.”

Truex called the performance a statement win for Michael Waltrip Racing.

Hamlin is starting to have a statement season.

He won earlier this year at Phoenix, started on the pole at California, and led 31 laps a couple weeks ago at Martinsville before finishing sixth.

The 14-race drought for Hendrick Motorsports is the longest since going 15 races without a win during the 2002 and ’03 seasons. The streak began after Johnson’s win last October at Kansas.

Vettel takes incident-free Bahrain Grand Prix

SAKHIR, Bahrain — Two-time world champion Sebastian Vettel held off Kimi Raikkonen to win an incident-free Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday, as the race was held without any disruption by anti-government protests that turned violent in the days before the event.

On a day when Formula One could again focus more on racing than politics, Vettel protected his pole position and led from the start for his first victory of the season. Raikkonen worked his way up from 11th on the grid to finish 3.3 seconds behind for his first podium finish since returning to the sport this season.

Raikkonen’s teammate Romain Grosjean was third, followed by Vettel’s teammate Mark Webber.

The race, which was canceled last year because of the unrest in the divided Gulf nation, had been overshadowed most of the week by clashes between riot police and anti-government demonstrators. Protesters claim at least one person was killed by riot police this week.

– Associated Press


1. Greg Biffle 312

2. Martin Truex Jr. 297

3. Matt Kenseth 295

4. D. Earnhardt Jr. 291

5. Denny Hamlin 289

6. Kevin Harvick 287

7. Jimmie Johnson 275

8. Tony Stewart 265

9. Carl Edwards 251

10. Ryan Newman 249

11. Clint Bowyer 227

12. Joey Logano 221


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