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Denny Hamlin! What knee surgery? Hamlin runs strong, lets rivals make mistakes, and wins the Southern 500 | NASCAR Racing Breaking News: Trackside Live, Every Week, Every Sprint Cup Race - MikeMulhern.net


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Denny Hamlin! What knee surgery? Hamlin runs strong, lets rivals make mistakes, and wins the Southern 500

  Denny Hamlin: Win number three of the spring....back on championship track (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)  

   By Mike Mulhern


   It wasn't the slam-bang affair that many had expected, but then last year's crash-filled Southern 500 might have been a good learning experience.
   And Denny Hamlin continues his charmed spring run through the stock car tour, taking advantage of late-race problems bedeviling his toughest competition – teammate Kyle Busch, Jeff Burton and Jeff Gordon – to win Saturday night's Southern 500, completing the weekend sweep at Darlington Raceway.
    Hamlin showed no affects from his recent knee surgery: "We had a top-two car all day, and the two Jeffs were strong, but the pit crew got me out fast on that last stop, and that was big," Hamlin said.
   Hamlin edged pole starter Jamie McMurray, who had an excellent night, and good pit stops. "I didn't really have anything at the end for Denny," McMurray. "We never got the car to where I felt I could hustle it."
  The win was Hamlin's third of the season and followed his Friday night win in the Nationwide race here too.
   Burton and Gordon, with two of the best cars in the field, had problems on their final pit stops in the last 30 miles, and that cost both men a shot at the win. Burton was leading late but he ran over an airhose on his stop and had to restart at the rear of the field; he wound up eighth. Gordon missed pit road on his last stop the first time around, under green, and that lost speed cost him nearly a lap; he finished fourth.
    "Track position is so important at this place," Gordon said. "We were going to pit at the end, and it was my fault – I didn't signal the guys behind me, and I was afraid of getting run over. I hate making mistakes like that. If we'd been out front at the end, I think we could have done something.  Denny was strong...but I would have liked to see what we could have done."
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            The finishing order of Saturday night's Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway



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