|Denny Hamlin on a roll, wins second straight race (Getty)|
HAMPTON, Ga. (AP) -- Denny Hamlin celebrated his second straight triumph Sunday night, looking more and more like he'll be the driver to beat heading into the Sprint Cup playoff.
Jeff Gordon was kicking himself for letting a desperately needed win slip away, while Martin Truex Jr. couldn't help but wonder just what it will take to get back to Victory Lane.
Hamlin took advantage of a fortuitous yellow flag with three laps to go, beating Truex off pit road and fending off Gordon on the final lap in a green-white-checkered finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
"We have a lot of momentum now,'' Hamlin said. "I will try to take advantage of it.''
After a largely uneventful race, all sorts of subplots developed on the harried dash to the finish.
Hamlin knew a series-leading fourth win of the season would put him in position to top the standings when the 12-driver Chase begins after next weekend's race at Richmond. Also on his mind was keeping Gordon from getting to the line first, which would have given his playoff hopes a big boost - at the expense of Kyle Busch and Joey Logano, Hamlin's teammates at Joe Gibbs Racing.
"I'm going to do whatever it takes to get as many (Gibbs) cars in there because it helps me,'' Hamlin said. "We need Kyle in there, we need Joey in there, and if Jeff won that race, it was going to be all over. We had to do what we had to do.''