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Hamlin gives it his all in Loudon

July 16, 2012, Andrew Shain, Special to NASCAR.COM,

Coke Family comes close to victory with five drivers in top 15

Denny Hamlin's frantic run through the field in the final laps at New Hampshire fell just short of his third win of the season but gave him honors among Coca-Cola Racing Family drivers.

Four other members of the red-and-white crowd also landed in the top 14 on the flat New England track on a day where track position was precious.

The drivers earned a refreshing break with a week off before heading to Indianapolis.

Denny Hamlin

New Hampshire finish: Second

Season standings: Fifth

Probably shouldn't mention the word "tires" around Hamlin for a few days. He had the dominant car in practice and for the first two-thirds of the race before the final caution. Hamlin radioed all he needed was tires, which his crew chief took to mean a four-tire change instead of two and the race leader exited in 13th place. Hamlin thought he might have a chance for a top-five but found himself in second with less than 20 laps to go. He needed the race to go another five laps to catch the race winner and settled for a frustrating runner-up result. Hamlin is happy in New England, though, with nine top-10 finishes in 13 races at New Hampshire.

What he said: "That's all I had. That's as hard as I can drive and just came up about five car lengths too short. We made our bed by taking those four tires. ... You never know what could have happened on that last restart if we were taking two [tires]. ... We're going to be back here in just a few months when it really counts and that's when you want to win -- so we know we have something to race him with."

* Dominant Hamlin grins and bears second place | Final Laps: Hamlin charges

Greg Biffle

New Hampshire finish: Ninth

Season standings: Third

Biffle was just "average" at New Hampshire. Ho-hum for him this season is finishing a near-series high ninth -- just like he did Sunday. Biffle started 11th -- the 10th consecutive race where he qualified 13th or better. He spent just two laps outside the top 15 and nestled into the top five at times. The problem that kept him from staying among the leaders was a protracted battle with another driver that dulled his brakes. Biffle finished ninth for his 11th top-10 of the season. He remains third in the points standings.

What he said: "It was just a case of brakes. I'm a terrible driver when it comes to taking care of the brakes. It's got to be me because we've done everything under the sun, but about halfway through I lost my brakes and that's about all I could do. ... I'm proud of my guys because they didn't give up."

Ryan Newman

New Hampshire finish: 10th

Season standings: 14th

Newman is among the season's best qualifiers and started sixth at New Hampshire. He was shuffled back into the teens midway through the race but gained a few spots at the end. Newman was just one of three drivers to stay inside to the top 15 for all 301 laps -- a sign of how well he performs at the track. He has five top-10 finishes in his past six New Hampshire races. Newman remains just outside a wildcard spot for the Chase.

What he said: "We just had a 10th-place car [Sunday] -- that was the bottom line. We just never could get it better. We got it better than that at times, but it was never consistently through a run. We just on average had a 10th-place car that is what we got out of it. Not a good points day for us, it was a good finish, a decent finish, but not what we needed."

Tony Stewart

New Hampshire finish: 12th

Season standings: Seventh

Stewart has been the dominant driver at New Hampshire since 2005. He tied for the best finish in the past seven years (ninth place) and has led more laps than any other racer by a whopping 375 laps. But his car felt like a "soapy dishrag" for much of the race on Sunday. He slid outside the top 20 before his crew made wholesale chassis changes on the final caution. Stewart rallied for a 12th-place finish. That was not quite as good as his recent streak of four top-three runs in the previous five races. But the result Sunday matched his season average.

What he said: "The balance of our car was never bad. It was actually pretty good. We just had no grip out there. Steve made one last change there at the end, and it definitely helped. We were finally able to make up some ground."

Joey Logano

New Hampshire finish: 14th

Season standings: 16th

Logano had a day where nothing seemed to change. He stayed around 15th place for much of the race and battled an ill-handling car with the same condition -- loose going in and out of turns and tight in the center. He would break into the top 10 with some pit strategy but corrections his crew attempted could not get the car correct. Logano slid back to 14th to end the race and fell two spots in the points hunt.

What he said: "We had a 16th-place car to start and had about a 14th-place car at the end and that is all we could get out of it. [Crew chief] Jason [Ratcliff] and the guys made a lot of changes, but we couldn't really get the car to improve all day long. We made minor gains, but it just never got good enough to race our way into the top 10. We just got to look at it that it was a top-15 finish and it could have been a lot worse."

Jamie McMurray

New Hampshire finish: 20th

Season standings: 20th

McMurray started 28th and would get inside the top 15 for a spell. With a 20th at the checkered flag, he netted his best finish at New Hampshire in three races. But this season, he had not finished this low in his past seven events going back to Charlotte. McMurray remains in 20th in the season standings.

What he said: "[Sunday] was a tough day, but our guys worked hard to make adjustments and get the car handling better. We battled some handling issues early on in the race but we never gave up."

Jeff Burton

New Hampshire finish: 21st

Season standings: 19th

Burton has enjoyed good success at New Hampshire, but he had a challenging race Sunday where he started 25th and was able to crack the top 20 only for a short time. Burton had collided with another car on pit road and was in the free pass position toward the end of the race but could not get the lap back. He finished outside the top 20 for just the fifth time in 35 career starts at the track. He dropped a spot in the season standings.

What he tweeted: "Tough day. Got blocked on pit road under green, lost a lap then ran the rest of the day with the 12th-15th place cars. luckydog 4ever"

Bobby Labonte

New Hampshire finish: 23rd

Season standings: 23rd

Labonte could not take advantage of one of his better qualifying efforts of the season (18th) and came home 23rd while fighting some tire chatter and a loose-handling car. He gained a spot in the season standings.

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