LOUDON, N.H. Denny Hamlin stepped out of his car, pointed into the air and took a mighty swing of an invisible baseball bat. Like Babe Ruth before him (or so the legend goes), Hamlin had called his shot.
The top winner in NASCAR's regular season earned his series-leading fifth victory of the year Sunday, backing up a tweet of "We will win" with a mistake-free and dominating run at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in the second event of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
"You don't want to sound too cocky, but I knew what we were capable of," said Hamlin, who was 32nd in qualifying after his crew put the wrong pressure in his tires. "I know we made a couple of big mistakes, but I said we were fast enough to make it up, and we did."
It was the 100th career victory for team owner Joe Gibbs, who also won three Super Bowls as the coach of the Washington Redskins. And it came with a little teamwork, too, when Kyle Busch slowed down to help suck some debris off the front of Hamlin's car and propel him to victory.
"As fast as he was, he could have gone to the back of any car and pulled that off," said Jimmie Johnson, who finished second and took over the Chase lead. "I kind of thought he would be the guy to beat, and he certainly was. We are second-best."
Johnson will head into Dover, Del., one of his top tracks, one point ahead of Chicago winner Brad Keselowski, who was sixth Sunday. Jeff Gordon, the last man to qualify for the Chase, was third.
"We had a great race car," said Johnson, a five-time NASCAR season champion, "just not an amazing car like the No. 11 did here today."
Hamlin improved to third in the Chase, seven points behind Johnson, despite a tumultuous week that began with running out of gas in Chicago and continued when his crew used race pressure instead of qualifying pressure in his tires on Friday.
NHRA in Ennis, Texas Antron Brown raced to his fifth Top Fuel victory of the season to move into a tie for the points lead, beating teammate Spencer Massey in the final of the Texas NHRA Fall Nationals.
Brown beat Massey with a 3.898-second run at 311.49 mph. Massey, tied with Brown for the lead in the season standings, finished in 3.945 at 300.60.
Formula One in Singapore Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel won the Singapore Grand Prix for the second straight year, jumping to second place in the drivers' championship.
Jenson Button finished second ahead of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, whose championship lead was cut from 37 to 29 points with six races to go.