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As Hamlin roared to the finish, a massive wreck behind him swallowed nine cars. Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin and Kasey Kahne were all involved, with Kahne's No. 9 Ford briefly spinning atop the retaining wall after colliding with Richard Petty Motorsports teammate AJ Allmendinger.
None of the drivers were hurt, but tempers across the garage were frayed.
"I don't know what AJ was doing there," said Kahne, who finished 27th. "I don't ever really talk to him much, but you can bet I will be talking to him this week."
Allmendinger took responsibility for the wreck, though he added he was simply defending his turf.
Kurt Busch, looking to back up wins in the All-Star race and last week in Charlotte, finished sixth despite a series of early race setbacks that had him a lap down for a time.
Johnson, who had been mired in a mini-slump, posted his best effort since finishing second in Texas in mid-April.
None, however, were a match for Hamlin. Nobody really is at Pocono.
He won twice here in 2006, then scored an emotional victory last summer shortly after the death of his grandmother.
There were no tears this time. Hamlin is saving them for later, like say Homestead after wrapping up his first championship. He thinks this could be the year he breaks through.
"Right now we are being conservative," he said. "Hopefully we peak at the right time. I mean anyone would say 'Yeah, you're peaking right now.' Really I feel like the best is yet to come."
Hamlin says his team has a plan for the Chase. He might want to bring along the car he used on Sunday. The car is perfect in three starts this year, winning at Martinsville and Darlington before coming through again at Pocono.
Kyle Busch was hoping to make his record-breaking start memorable. At 25 years, one month and four days old he became the youngest driver ever to reach the 200-start plateau. Brian Vickers was 25 years, 11 months, 3 days when he reached his 200th start.
Busch led four times for 32 laps but wasn't complaining after coming up short. He's never been a fan of the quirky eastern Pennsylvania track. That didn't change even after his best finish here.
"Denny has this place figured out," Busch said. "I did the best I could. I went from about an F at knowing how to get around here today to about an A, and an A didn't get it done."
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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