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Hamlin's big lead wiped out

| November 15, 2010 8:00 PM

AVONDALE, Ariz. (AP) - Carl Edwards marked the end of a 70-race losing streak by climbing into the grandstands at Phoenix International Raceway for a raucous celebration with the fans.

Roughly 50 feet away, Denny Hamlin sat in silence on the pit road wall, wondering how his ironclad grip on the Sprint Cup had been pried apart by fuel strategy.

"It's tough to not be happy having the point lead going into the last race. But we were sitting pretty," Hamlin said.

He was in prime position to take a comfortable lead into next week's season finale by dominating Sunday's race at Phoenix. He led a race-high 190 laps and had four-time defending champion Jimmie Johnson in trouble for much of the afternoon.

And when third-place driver Kevin Harvick was penalized for a loose lug nut on a late stop, nothing seemed to be in the way of Hamlin's first career NASCAR title.

Then cautions didn't fall as they should have, Edwards chased him down and Hamlin had to burn a ton of fuel trying to preserve the win. It played out perfectly for everyone but Hamlin, whose rally still left him 12th. Johnson wound up fifth, Harvick was sixth and Hamlin's lead going into Homestead-Miami Speedway is a mere 15 points over Johnson. Harvick is a manageable 46 points out.

NASCAR Sprint Cup

Kobalt Tools 500

At Phoenix International Raceway

Avondale, Ariz.

Lap length: 1 miles

(Start position in parentheses)

1. (1) Carl Edwards, Ford, 312 laps, 135.2 rating, 190 points, $247,098.

2. (18) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 312, 111.1, 170, $190,529.

3. (10) Joey Logano, Toyota, 312, 92.4, 165, $165,690.

4. (4) Greg Biffle, Ford, 312, 95.8, 160, $119,550.

5. (21) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 312, 110.3, 155, $160,303.

6. (29) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 312, 101.3, 150, $140,951.

7. (15) Matt Kenseth, Ford, 312, 94.4, 151, $130,101.

8. (28) Mark Martin, Chevrolet, 312, 85.9, 142, $103,725.

9. (3) Kurt Busch, Dodge, 312, 105.2, 143, $128,148.

10. (5) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 312, 78.3, 134, $114,954.

11. (22) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 312, 85.7, 130, $121,251.

12. (17) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 312, 131.8, 137, $103,300.

13. (7) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 312, 112.7, 129, $119,881.

14. (31) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 312, 76, 121, $81,975.

15. (11) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 312, 93.6, 118, $73,950.

16. (35) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 312, 81.8, 115, $108,081.

17. (20) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 312, 95.2, 112, $107,548.

18. (2) A J Allmendinger, Ford, 312, 83.2, 109, $109,251.

19. (40) Jeff Burton, Chevrolet, 312, 87.3, 106, $105,990.

20. (26) Bobby Labonte, Chevrolet, 311, 57.5, 108, $72,875.

21. (14) Clint Bowyer, Chevrolet, 311, 69, 100, $78,525.

22. (13) Marcos Ambrose, Toyota, 311, 62.5, 97, $96,823.

23. (8) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 311, 69.5, 94, $78,025.

24. (24) Casey Mears, Toyota, 311, 63.5, 91, $70,725.

25. (12) David Ragan, Ford, 310, 54.3, 88, $78,400.

26. (6) David Reutimann, Toyota, 310, 68.4, 85, $99,731.

27. (9) Aric Almirola, Ford, 310, 59, 82, $108,590.

28. (23) Elliott Sadler, Ford, 310, 58.2, 79, $76,950.

29. (19) Paul Menard, Ford, 310, 53.5, 76, $76,825.

30. (25) Kasey Kahne, Toyota, 310, 54.2, 73, $107,148.

31. (33) J.J. Yeley, Ford, 309, 43.8, 70, $78,575.

32. (16) Sam Hornish Jr., Dodge, 309, 51.7, 67, $73,400.

33. (34) Robby Gordon, Toyota, 308, 45.2, 64, $82,798.

34. (38) Travis Kvapil, Ford, 308, 35.7, 61, $83,910.

35. (27) Scott Speed, Toyota, 307, 40.7, 58, $79,598.

36. (42) Tony Raines, Ford, 306, 31.3, 55, $64,875.

37. (32) Dave Blaney, Chevrolet, 306, 37, 52, $64,750.

38. (37) David Gilliland, Ford, brakes, 274, 35.7, 49, $76,698.

39. (36) Mike Bliss, Toyota, overheating, 193, 32.2, 46, $64,500.

40. (39) Landon Cassill, Toyota, rear gear, 191, 26.4, 43, $64,350.

41. (43) Terry Labonte, Dodge, electrical, 190, 26.5, 40, $64,190.

42. (30) Brad Keselowski, Dodge, accident, 58, 38.6, 37, $90,825.

43. (41) Brendan Gaughan, Chevrolet, accident, 1, 25.3, 34, $64,447.

Top 12 in Points: 1. D.Hamlin, 6,462; 2. J.Johnson, 6,447; 3. K.Harvick, 6,416; 4. C.Edwards, 6,198; 5. M.Kenseth, 6,151; 6. J.Gordon, 6,124; 7. Ky.Busch, 6,115; 8. G.Biffle, 6,113; 9. T.Stewart, 6,074; 10. Ku.Busch, 6,033; 11. C.Bowyer, 6,028; 12. J.Burton, 5,958.

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