Denny Hamlin won his second consecutive Sprint Cup race, holding off Jeff Gordon in a green-white-checkered finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday night in Hampton, Ga.
Martin Truex Jr. appeared to be positioned for his first win since 2007 until Jamie McMurray smashed the wall on the front straightaway, bringing out a caution with three laps to go.
The leaders went to pit road, and Hamlin’s crew got him back on the track first, just ahead of Truex.
While Truex struggled to get up to speed on the restart, Hamlin pulled away with Gordon right on his bumper.
The four-time Cup champion desperately needed a win to improve his chances of getting into the Chase, but couldn’t get by Hamlin on the final lap.
Hamlin took the series victory lead with four, putting him in position to top the standings when the 12-drive Chase starts.
Greg Biffle of Vancouver, Wash., was 15th, and Enumclaw’s Kasey Kahne finished 23rd.
Ryan Hunter-Reay won the Grand Prix of Baltimore after a controversial restart to keep alive his hopes of capturing the IndyCar Series championship.
Will Power could have clinched the title with a second consecutive win in Baltimore on the 2.04-mile street course that winds through the heart of the city, but the pole-sitter finished sixth in a race that drew nine caution flags, was marred by rain and had eight drivers drop out before the finish.
The last restart came five laps from the conclusion of the 75-lap race.
While front-runner Ryan Briscoe was waiting for the green flag, Hunter-Reay caught sight of it and took off, moving from second to first. Briscoe claimed Hunter-Reay jumped the gun, but race officials ruled otherwise.
The win put Hunter-Reay 17 points behind Power.
Remnants of Hurricane Isaac forced NHRA officials to cancel the final two qualifying sessions for the U.S. Nationals in Clermont, Ind. The fields for the final eliminations today were established by qualifying sessions Friday and Saturday. … Jenson Button coasted to his second victory of the season at the Belgian Grand Prix in Spa as Formula One championship leader Fernando Alonso was taken out of the race by a four-car crash.