NATIONWIDE Winn-Dixie 250

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Hamlin claims Winn-Dixie 250

Jul 5, 2008 - 4:32 AM DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (Ticker) -- This week, Denny Hamlin had the privilege of being behind the wheel of the No. 20 Toyota Camry.

Hamlin won Friday's NASCAR Nationwide Series Winn-Dixie 250 at Daytona International Speedway.

With an average speed of 155.761 miles per hour, Hamlin claimed his third win of the season.

It was no surprise the Chesterfield, Virginia native finished first, as the Joe Gibbs No. 20 racer has taken the checkered flag on nine different occasions this year.

"It feels good to do this in my final ride in the 20 car," Hamlin said.

Besides Hamlin's two triumphs in the vehicle, Tony Stewart - who won last week's Camping World RV Sales 200 - has been victorious five times while Kyle Busch and rookie Joey Logano have found Victory Lane once each in the Toyota.

After a wreck occurred just as the white flag came down on the 99th lap, a caution flag came out to set up the seventh green-white-checkered finish on the circuit this season.

On the restart, Hamlin got a huge jump on Gibbs teammate Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was in third place. The 27-year-old then hung on for his eighth career win in a Nationwide Series event, collecting a purse of $93,620.

"I've got to thank Kyle for sticking with me there at the end," Hamlin said. "The only way we don't win this is if Kyle goes for the win. I knew Kyle could go for the win and maybe not succeed, but I knew as long as he stuck on my bumper, we'd have a 1-2 finish."

It was the 12th time in 19 races a Toyota has come in first in 2008. Also this season, the Camry is undefeated in three restrictor plate races - two at Daytona and one at Talladega Superspeedway.

Busch, who leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in points, finished second while Earnhardt, in a Chevrolet, came in third. It was the third straight top-two finish here for Busch and third top-five placing for Earnhardt.

Despite hanging on Hamlin's rear bumper for the last portion of the race, Earnhardt was confused as to who was in the most dominant car of the year.

"It was hard to beat those guys," Earnhardt said. "Tony and Kyle were both really fast."

When told it was Hamlin who won the race, Earnhardt was surprised and apologetic.

"I thought Tony was in the 20 all night," Earnhardt said. "I didn't know Denny was in it - so congratulations, Denny."

Clint Bowyer, who entered this race atop the official driver standings, was fourth in a Chevy and saw his points lead increase to a season-high 202 over Brad Keselowski, who came in fifth - also in a Chevy.

Rookie Bryan Clauson, who at 19 years, 19 days, became the youngest series pole winner in Daytona history, crossed the finish line in 19th place in a Dodge Charger.

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