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NASCAR At New Hampshire Update: Tony Stewart Leads Early, Denny Hamlin On The Charge

Defending Sprint Cup champ Tony Stewart started third, passed Jeff Gordon on lap four, and currently holds the top spot in the Sylvania 300 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway after 30 laps. Stewart, also the defending event champion, leads leads Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, and Clint Bowyer in the infancy of the race.

Denny Hamlin, after starting 32nd, has already cracked the top-20. Hamlin runs 17th after his crew-induced poor qualifying run left his Toyota - which has dominated practice throughout the weekend - on the 16th row in today's grid. Hamlin's crew inadvertently used their much-lower race tire pressures instead of the higher pressures used to try to make a fast lap on the flat 1-mile oval. The mistake - very out of character for one hoping to contend for a Sprint Cup title - came on the heels of one last Sunday at Chicago that caused Hamlin to run out of fuel on the final lap and finish 16th. Hamlin took to Twitter after that race and essentially guaranteed a victory for his Joe Gibbs-owned race team today at Loudon.

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