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Virginia native Hamlin wins at Martinsville

Mar 30, 2008 - 11:05 PM MARTINSVILLE, Virginia (Ticker) -- Home proved to be the cure for Denny Hamlin's recent late-race woes.

Two weeks after a fuel pickup problem during the final restart at Bristol cost him a potential win, the Chesterfield, Virginia native had no such problem Sunday as he won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Goody's Cool Orange 500 at Martinsville Speedway.

In a Toyota Camry, Hamlin took the lead from Jeff Burton with 74 laps remaining and had little trouble holding on for his first win of the season and fourth career.

"It was the first Virginia win for me and it's great to get it for the hometown fans," said Hamlin in Victory Lane. "Finally ... the curse is over - at least I hope so. We've had our share of bad luck at the end of races lately."

Pole-sitter Jeff Gordon was second in a Chevrolet, nearly a half-second behind Hamlin. The seven-time winner on the paper clip-shaped short track suffered some early damage to the front of his Impala, but rebounded for his best showing of the season.

"It was an awesome with a lot of cool stuff going on out there with guys swapping the lead," Gordon said. "It came down to pit strategy and Denny had the right call taking two tires at the end."

The 18th and final yellow flag flew on lap 403 when Ken Schrader dropped fluid onto the track. Hamlin entered the pits in fifth, but exited in fourth behind Burton, Brian Vickers and Carl Edwards.

It took Hamlin just 16 laps after the race went green to make his way to the front, passing Burton on the inside during lap 427.

Burton finished third in a Chevrolet and took over the top spot in the standings. He leads Richard Childress Racing teammate Kevin Harvick by 39 points.

Hamlin's Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch entered the race with the points lead, but suffered transmission troubles midway through the race and limped to a 38th-place finish. He dropped to fifth in the standings, 84 behind Burton.

Jimmie Johnson, Gordon's Hendrick Motorsports teammate, had his three-race winning streak at Martinsville snapped, but still managed to finish fourth despite being spun out on lap 296. Greg Biffle got loose and nudged Ryan Newman, who slid up the track and spun Johnson around.

"It was definitely a good race for us," Johnson said. "I felt like we had a shot to win, but we got spun out - I don't know what happened there. We finally got back up there and finished with a top-five."

Tony Stewart was fifth in a Toyota. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was sixth and teammate Casey Mears was right behind him as all four Hendrick cars finished in the top-10.

Jamie McMurray was the top Ford in eighth and moved up to 31st in the points standings, meaning he will be guaranteed a starting spot for next week's race at Texas.

McMurray's Roush Fenway Racing teammate Edwards was ninth, with Clint Bowyer's Chevrolet rounding out the top 10.

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