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It isn't how many, but which laps you lead

Perhaps the disconcerting part is Steve Letarte doesn't believe Hendrick Motorsports is actually "dominating."

By BRANT JAMES
Published May 15, 2007


DARLINGTON, S.C. - Perhaps the disconcerting part is Steve Letarte doesn't believe Hendrick Motorsports is actually "dominating."

Eight wins in the past nine Nextel Cup races and having the Nos. 1 (Jeff Gordon), 2 (Jimmie Johnson) and 7 (Kyle Busch) drivers in points seems dominating. But not in reality, Gordon's crew chief said.

"I think we're dominating the finishes, " he said. "I don't think we're dominating the races by any means. I feel we've been outclassed on the racetrack a few of these races, and that's my job to fix."

Gordon led just 22 laps Sunday. But one was the only lap that mattered after passing Jimmie Johnson by staying out as others pitted for tires.

At Bristol, Tony Stewart led 257 laps before his fuel pump broke. Busch won leading 29. At Martinsville, Dale Earnhardt Jr. led 137 until it rained. Johnson won leading 113, third best. Stewart led 132 at Phoenix but was passed by Gordon after a late caution. Gordon won leading 53 laps.

In all, Gordon has led 674 laps (18 percent) and won four races. Denny Hamlin is second at 611 (17 percent) but winless.

HAMLIN MEETING: Joe Gibbs Racing officials met Monday after a pair of dropped lug nuts late sent Hamlin from second to 16th. Details were not disclosed.

"It's a lot like football, pretty cut and dried. You either get it done or get replaced, " team president J.D. Gibbs said.

"The thing we've kind of noticed is that it's not one person, though. It's inconsistency across the board, and it has to get better."

Hamlin, who recovered to finish second, said he was "pretty mad" after the race but calmed down a day later, adding he prefers his crew improve rather than be replaced.

NHRA: This weekend's event at Bristol was rescheduled for July 6-8 because part of the resurfaced track is not ready.