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NASCAR At Richmond: Denny Hamlin Leads Just Past Lap 100, Jeff Gordon Struggling

No, this isn't a repeat of the last two weeks. It is a live update of the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway, and Denny Hamlin is out front once again in his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

Hamlin shows the way at lap 125, ahead of polesitter Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Clint Bowyer. Jimmie Johnson, who would like a win so he could join Hamlin with a share of the top seed for the Chase next week, sits fourth and Martin Truex Jr. rounds out the top-five.

Kevin Harvick, looking for his first win of the 2012 season at the race he got his last win in a year ago. Sam Hornish Jr. runs seventh as he looks to audition for sponsors so Roger Penske could run him in the Sprint Cup Series in 2012. Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch, and Greg Biffle round out the top-10.

Jeff Gordon is struggling with a poor-handling race car after starting second and leading the first three circuits. He currently runs 18th. His hopes of making the Chase hinged on either winning the race or out-pacing Busch by 12 points. That looks highly unlikely at this juncture.

Rain is approaching the track and could end the race shy of its scheduled 400-lap distance. If the race is past it's 200th lap when the rain hits, NASCAR could make it official. That would be a frustrating way to end the regular season, but that's the risk NASCAR took when it went green this evening rather than waiting until tomorrow afternoon.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.