Hamlin takes Cup lead from Johnson with 2 to go

By: AP
By: AP

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- Denny Hamlin won at Texas for the second time this season to take over the lead in the closest three-way Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup yet with two races left.
Hamlin moved in front with 29 laps to go, then got a push from Matt Kenseth on the final restart with three laps to go Sunday. Kenseth pushed ahead momentarily before Hamlin got right back in front and went on to his series-best eighth victory of the season.
For Jimmie Johnson, it was more Texas trouble and a bump in his drive for an unprecedented fifth consecutive title. He carried a 14-point lead into Texas, but leaves in second place -- 33 behind Hamlin. Kevin Harvick is third, 59 points behind Hamlin.
Johnson lost the points lead with a ninth-place finish in a race where he lost ground on two troublesome pit stops. Despite an unusual crew change late in the race, it was too late to get Johnson back ahead of Hamlin and Harvick.
"It was just a long day," Johnson said. "I had speed in the car. We worked our way forward and had issues on pit road. ... We gave away so much track position from the beginning. It's tough to get back where we needed to."
The crew for Hendrick teammate Jeff Gordon took over in the No. 48 pit with Johnson after Gordon was hit and crashed during a caution period.
An angry Gordon hit Jeff Burton with a hard two-handed push after Burton sent Gordon's car crashing. After getting out of his No. 24 car, Gordon walked from the top to the bottom of the track to confront Burton. Gordon shoved Burton, then took some swings before they were separated by two NASCAR safety officials.
Hamlin won at Texas in April less than three weeks after surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee. His first race after the surgery was a 30th-place finish at Phoenix, where the next race is.
Kenseth finished second Sunday, and Mark Martin was third. Harvick was sixth.


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