News & Media


Hamlin toasts his fourth win of 2012

September 03, 2012, Andrew Shain, Special to NASCAR.COM, NASCAR.com

With his checkered flag at Atlanta, Denny Hamlin won the Coca-Cola Racing Family's 11th race of the season, giving the contour-bottle fleet victories in 44 percent of this year's events.

With one race left before the Chase, two Coca-Cola drivers have clinched spots, a third is all but assured to qualify next weekend and another pair each need a win to get in.

In the Chase

Denny Hamlin won his Sprint Cup-best fourth race of the season -- and first at Atlanta -- by leading the most laps and having the fastest car on the track. He never was worse than seventh. When a caution came out late in the race, he got to the front a final time by beating the leader off pit lane with five laps left. Hamlin is seventh in the standings but could cement the top-spot for the Chase with a win at Richmond, the track with his second-best average finish in the past three seasons.

Video: Final Laps | Victory Lane | Press Pass

Greg Biffle remains the points leader after a 15th-place finish. He started second and stayed in the top 10 for much of the first 100 laps. He then began battling a car that was tight at times and then loose when he hit the gas in turns. He has two wins this season and holds an eight-point lead in the standings heading into final race before the Chase.

Virtually in the Chase

Tony Stewart took the pole but wrestled with an ill-handling car all night to lose a lap. He finished 22nd. Despite his recent struggles, Stewart sits 10th in points, the final automatic spot for the Chase. His three win would give him a wild-card spot if he falls out of the top 10 in the standings at Richmond.

Needs to win

Ryan Newman's wild-card hopes took another hit with a Lap 269 crash (Video) -- the second week in the row his race ended early after six straight top-11 finishes. He's 49 points out of the final playoff spot, sitting 17th place in the standings. Newman's win at Martinsville keeps alive his Chase hopes. He has his second-best average career finish of any track at Richmond.

Joey Logano started ninth but could not hang on after the first 100 laps. He managed the most green-flag passes in the night for a 19th-place finish, his best result at the track. He is 83 points out of the last wild-card spot in 18th place in the standings. Logano's victory at Pocono means he still has a shot at the Chase. Richmond is his 10th-best track based on average career finish.

Other Coca-Cola drivers: Jeff Burton's 12th-place finish was his best in nearly two months and his third straight result of 13th or better at Atlanta. He is 20th in the standings. ... Bobby Labonte finished 19th to earn his first consecutive top-20s since the first two races of the season. It was his best Atlanta finish in three years. He sits 24th in the standings ... Jamie McMurray was running in the top 15 when his car hit the wall on Lap 320. He finished 24th and remains 19th in the standings. ... Danica Patrick, who is racing a limited schedule in NASCAR's top series, came home 29th in her Atlanta debut. She said her car had a conservative setup.

Weekly Coca-Cola Roundup Archive