THE STARTING GRID:
#07-Clint Bowyer had one of the strongest cars all night, gaining 20 spots in the first 100 laps and saving his car from wrecking when he merged into #42-Montoya off turn four, but for much of the Richmond event, that seemed to be only enough to get him a fourth-place finish. That all changed when #11-Denny Hamlin’s dominant Toyota lost a right-front tire with ten laps to go and #18-Kyle Busch spun #88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr. from the lead eight laps later. The latter incident allowed Bowyer to slip past Busch and Earnhardt, Jr., giving him the lead for the ensuing green-white-checkered restart. When #8-Mark Martin raced Busch for the second spot, Bowyer got away and won the second race of his career, his first since his own dominant run at New Hampshire last September. Bowyer led the final 13 of the race’s caution-extended 410 laps and, having started way back in the 31st position, became the first driver all season to win a Cup race from outside the top 9 starting spots.
1) #07-Clint Bowyer THE WINNER!
2) #18-Kyle Busch Made himself a factor in the race by first wrestling second place from #8-Martin coming off pit road, then attempting to pass teammate #11-Hamlin for the lead on the outside before the sixth caution, a move which he was unable to make stick due to a tight condition in the center which would eventually allow #8-Martin to retake second place on lap 254. He was back in second by lap 339, closing in on #11-Hamlin before a round of green-flag stops. His biggest competition in the final stages was #88-Earnhardt, Jr., with whom he raced hard on the inside as #88-Earnhardt, Jr. raced up high. After splitting the slowing #11-Hamlin with 18 to go to take the second spot, the tenth caution brought out by #11-Hamlin allowed him to close back in on #88-Earnhardt, Jr. for a five-lap shootout. Still running the low line after spinning his tires on the restart, he raced side-by-side with #88-Earnhardt, Jr. from turn one through turn three with three laps to go, but slipped in turn three into #88-Earnhardt, Jr., spinning #88-Earnhardt, Jr. into the outside wall. He was also forced to check up as he moved up high, allowing #07-Bowyer to make the winning pass. The green-white-checkered finish allowed him to get one more chance, but when #8-Martin raced him hard for second, #07-Bowyer got away. Though he did not lead any laps, he did retake the point lead from #31-J. Burton.
3) #8-Mark Martin Remained in second for almost as long as #11-Hamlin led, dogging the #11 by between a half-second to a couple seconds as the leader tore through lapped traffic. He lost second place when #18-Ky. Busch became a factor around the time of the sixth caution, but retook the spot on lap 254 as #18-Ky. Busch developed a tight condition in the center of the corner. This advantage proved critical in the green-white-checkered finish, for he raced #18-Ky. Busch hard for the second position, thus allowing #07-Bowyer to get away and score the victory.
4) #20-Tony Stewart Ran incident-free until he pitted under the third caution brought out by #42-Montoya, his jackman Jason Lee jumping on the hood of his car as he dove into the pit stall. #41-Sorenson was also parked too close in front of him, so he bumped #41-Sorenson forward as he blasted out of the pit stall.
5) #1-Martin Truex, Jr. Complained of a shaking brake pedal shortly after the restart for the first caution brought out by #70-Sauter.
6) #12-Ryan Newman Barely missed involvement in the sixth caution of the race when #10-Carpentier slid down to the inside after being hit by #38-Gilliland.
7) #99-Carl Edwards Having been reunited with crew chief Bob Osborne and re-signed with Roush-Fenway, he scored a decent run despite suffering minor damage to the left-front fender of his car in the beginning of the race’s massive sixth caution after #22-Blaney forced #96-Yeley to cross his nose and turn into the outside wall.
8) #29-Kevin Harvick Took tires before the final run to the checkers and gained a few spots, but was still not in contention for the win.
9) #24-Jeff Gordon Had a horrible lead-in to the race, struggling mightily with a tight condition through practice, chalking up his worst-ever starting spot at Richmond, then was forced to start last when his crew was forced to work on the ignition in this impound race, setting him up to get lapped by #11-Hamlin in a three-wide squeeze down the backstretch with #70-Sauter very early on at lap 45. Though his pit crew was only making tire pressure adjustments, his luck started to turn when he got his lap back under the third caution for #42-Montoya and was back up to 16th on lap 175. He narrowly missed damage in the sixth caution by checking-up behind #77-Hornish, Jr. on the outside, but sustained damage to the front of his car while racing up through the field around lap 305.
10) #9-Kasey Kahne NO NOTES
11) #31-Jeff Burton Poor qualifying effort dropped him right in the middle of the sixth caution of the race in which he miraculously avoided any more damage than a creased driver-side door when he went high and spun #01-Smith after bouncing off the wrecked #10-Carpentier.
12) #41-Reed Sorenson Big-time turnaround for him in this race, the first after he switched crew chiefs with teammate #42-Montoya. Qualified fifth alongside #42-Montoya and ran a respectable race, though he was bumped by #20-Stewart on pit road under the third caution for pitting too close for #20-Stewart to exit. He did bounce off the wall as #11-Hamlin lost spots in the final 20 laps of the race, but still managed to score a solid finish.
13) #43-Bobby Labonte Smacked the outside wall in a separate incident just as the third caution came out for #42-Montoya, but still managed to turn in an excellent run in his Speed Racer-schemed Dodge.
14) #16-Greg Biffle NO NOTES
15) #88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr. A full two years after winning his most recent points race in this event in 2006, he came even closer to winning than he had earlier in the year. Rallying from 22nd to 11th in the first 50 laps, he steadily made up ground and saved his car from spinning when it got very loose off turn four in the middle stages of the race. Came up into 3rd by passing #8-Martin with 130 laps to go, following #18-Ky. Busch who moved into 2nd. He was consistently diamonding the corners, which allowed him to remain close to #18-Ky. Busch and pass him for 2nd with 30 laps to go. When #11-Hamlin slowed for a tire that was going down, he passed #11-Hamlin up high in turn two as #18-Ky. Busch passed him down low, giving him the lead with just 18 to go. The tenth caution brought out by #11-Hamlin allowed #18-Ky. Busch to close in once again for a five lap restart. He had a great restart as #18-Ky. Busch spun his tires, but could not keep his car on the bottom, where #18-Ky. Busch was fastest. Just two laps later, he was dead-even with #18-Ky. Busch from turn one through turn three, where #18-Ky. Busch slid up into him, spinning him into the outside wall and crumpling the rear of his car. The incident allowed #07-Bowyer to make the winning pass on both cars and extended his losing streak to 72 races. Led 15 laps.
16) #28-Travis Kvapil NO NOTES
17) #6-David Ragan As #84-Allmendinger spun down the backstretch in the fourth caution, he attempted to drive through the smoke, but wound up rear-ending #38-Gilliland, severely damaging the front of his Ford.
18) #22-Dave Blaney Was the cause of the massive pileup which brought out the sixth caution and first red flag of the race when he merged up into #96-Yeley on the backstretch, putting #96-Yeley hard into the backstretch wall off the nose of #99-Edwards in the outside lane. He, like #99-Edwards, avoided further involvement in the wreck.
19) #66-Scott Riggs NO NOTES
20) #19-Elliott Sadler Gained track position during the pit stops under the first caution, perhaps as a result of taking two tires, for he dropped through the field soon after. He had a role in the sixth caution of the race when he checked-up for the wrecking #96-Yeley and turned his teammate #10-Carpentier into the inside wall, blocking the track right after he squeezed through turn three. His car ran very high around the track in the laps following the accident.
21) #01-Regan Smith (R) The top-finishing rookie for the series-leading fifth time this season, again breaking the tie with #77-Hornish, Jr., had a bumpy start when he brought out the fourth caution of the race on lap 204 from spinning #84-Allmendinger down the backstretch with apparent intent to do so. He then spun off the nose of #31-J. Burton in the sixth caution’s massive wreck as #31-J. Burton clipped the #10-Carpentier wreck, but avoided damage and provided an excellent under-car shot from the Gopher Cam.
22) #44-David Reutimann NO NOTES
23) #77-Sam Hornish, Jr. (R) Brushed the outside wall in the laps following the first caution brought out by #70-Sauter. He then suffered a bit more damage in the sixth caution when the wrecking #10-Carpentier slid up into him, sending him sliding into the outside wall with #24-J. Gordon, #01-Smith, and #55-Waltrip slowing behind him.
24) #11-Denny Hamlin Looked to be a shoe-in for the weekend sweep at his home track, a track he said he wanted to win at more than either Indy or the Daytona 500, winning the Nationwide race and the pole for the Cup event. He absolutely dominated the race in record fashion, beating the laps led record set by his hero Bill Elliott in 1992. He made a daring move early on, squeezing between #70-Sauter and #24-J. Gordon to put the two one lap down. Aided by great work by his pit crew, where his family waited anxiously for the finish, #11-Hamlin led all but one of the first 382 laps. That all changed when he reported he had a tire going down with 20 laps to go, slowing up to the point that #18-Ky. Busch and #88-Earnhardt, Jr. were catching up as they raced each other. Two laps later, #18 and #88 split him in turn one to take over the top two spots and he began to drop precipitously through the pack. He brought out the tenth caution of the race when he stopped on the track after the tire finally let go, a move which forced NASCAR to penalize him for two laps. Led a race-high 381 laps.
25) #09-Sterling Marlin Slipped by on the apron to avoid damage in the sixth caution of the race, much like he had to avoid the Talladega wreck, and was again rewarded with all four fenders and a respectable finish.
26) #7-Robby Gordon The first car to be lapped by the dominant #11-Hamlin early in the race was surprisingly clear of much of the night’s chaos.
27) #45-Kyle Petty Was completely stopped on the apron when the sixth caution wreck happened, allowing him to avoid any damage.
28) #83-Brian Vickers Was bumped up the track in turn one by #00-McDowell as they raced to be the first car one lap down shortly before the third caution brought out by #42-Montoya. He himself drove too high in turn four just past the halfway mark, picking up debris on his tires which forced him high on the backstretch on lap 219 to get pinned in the wall by #15-Menard when #38-Gilliland merged on top of him, bringing out the fifth caution of the race.
29) #78-Joe Nemechek NO NOTES
30) #48-Jimmie Johnson Suffered slight damage to the left-front of his car when #38-Gilliland checked-up into him as they raced, the damage irritating his handling bad enough to keep him in 27th after 120 laps. The second caution of the race, brought out for debris, narrowly saved he and #10-Carpentier from going a lap down shortly after. He suffered more serious damage under the sixth caution of the race when he was right behind #38-Gilliland when he slammed into the wrecked #10-Carpentier, squeezing him between #38-Gilliland and #00-McDowell, who spun into the wall to avoid further contact.
31) #15-Paul Menard Was taken out in the fifth caution of the race when #38-Gilliland checked up into him on the backstretch, forcing him to pinch #83-Vickers in the wall and spin off the nose of #83-Vickers, slamming himself hard into the outside wall.
32) #42-Juan Pablo Montoya In the first race after switching crew chiefs with teammate #41-Sorenson, roughed-up #10-Carpentier as the two diced for position early in the race, then brought out the third caution of the event on lap 138 when he broke loose in the middle of turn two, sending his car facing backwards against the outside wall. He did, however, manage to remain on the lead lap after the incident. His left-front fender started smoking shortly before the fourth caution after contact with #07-Bowyer in turn four as #07-Bowyer merged up into him. Soon after #38-Gilliland collided with #10-Carpentier in the sixth caution of the race, he drilled the back of #70-Sauter, sending the #70 sliding up the track into #00-McDowell, then spun himself into the resulting logjam as #2-Ku. Busch and #17-Kenseth tried to slow down to his inside, but became involved as well. Damage to his car was so severe that the rear spoiler was broken in half on the rear decklid.
33) #70-Johnny Sauter A few laps after going a lap down along with #24-J. Gordon in #11-Hamlin’s daring three-wide maneuver, he brought out the first caution of the race on lap 65 when his right-front tire blew in turn four, putting him hard in the wall. Surprisingly, he not only returned to the race, but only two laps down. He could not avoid damage in the sixth caution, either, for #42-Montoya drilled him in the rear as he slowed down, sending him spinning up the track into the stopped #00-McDowell.
34) #96-J.J. Yeley The last-place starter was effectively taken out in the beginning of the race’s large sixth caution melee when #22-Blaney merged up into him on the backstretch, smashing him hard into the outside wall after being forced to cross the nose of #99-Edwards in the outside groove. The rest of the wreck unfolded seconds later when #19-Sadler checked-up and turned his teammate #10-Carpentier into the inside wall.
35) #26-Jamie McMurray Barely missed involvement in the big sixth caution wreck and found himself flirting with the top 10 when the race restarted. He was not so lucky with 35 to go when he brought out the ninth caution of the race, spinning around on his own and backing hard into the turn three wall.
36) #5-Casey Mears Brought out the eighth caution of the race when he checked up on the frontstretch on lap 354, slamming #55-Waltrip hard into the outside wall. #55-Waltrip paid him back with interest while following him into turn one, shoving him through the turn in a move that got #55-Waltrip parked.
37) #55-Michael Waltrip Made slight contact with the wall on several occasions, avoided the big wreck that was the sixth caution by following #24-J. Gordon up high, then on lap 354 became both victim and aggressor in the race’s eighth caution. #5-Mears slid up in the frontstretch and pinched him in the wall, to which he promptly retaliated by shoving the damaged car of #5-Mears hard through turn 1. NASCAR parked him immediately after the incident.
38) #17-Matt Kenseth Suffered damage in the sixth caution of the race while racing #2-Ku. Busch on the inside as they closed in on the destroyed #10-Carpentier lying directly in their path. He, like #2-Ku. Busch, locked his brakes and hit #10-Carpentier heavily with the front of his car.
39) #84-A.J. Allmendinger Again qualified in the top 20 (19th) in his second race back with Team Red Bull and ran an exceptional race for much of the night, running 14th on lap 151 and not putting so much as a tire mark on his immaculate silver Toyota. Unfortunately, that changed when #01-Smith spun him down the backstretch on lap 204 to bring out the fourth caution, his smoke obscuring #11-Hamlin’s view as he drove through and causing #6-Ragan to collide with #38-Gilliland. He did not hit anything, however, and remained on the lead lap to lead the only lap that #11-Hamlin did not under the resulting caution. His luck ran out when he got loose racing under #00-McDowell in turn three on lap 260, annihilating the rear of his car from a direct hit into the turn three wall in what was the seventh caution of the race. Led 1 lap.
40) #00-Michael McDowell (R) Raced #83-Vickers hard to be the first car one lap down just before the third caution brought out by #42-Montoya, bumping #83-Vickers up the track in turn one. He then became involved in the sixth caution of the race by spinning high to avoid slamming into the damaged #48-Johnson, then being hit in the rear by the spinning #70-Sauter soon after. The rear of his car was further damaged in the seventh caution when #84-Allmendinger spun him into the turn three wall again, this time putting his rear wing at a precarious angle.
41) #38-David Gilliland Had a target sign on his back for much of the race, first making the contact with #48-Johnson which creased the left-front fender of the #48, then being rear-ended by #6-Ragan in the smoke thrown up by #84-Allmendinger under the fourth caution of the race. He was also the car who merged up the track on lap 219, causing #15-Menard and #83-Vickers to collide and bring out the fifth caution. His car was finished off in the sixth caution of the race when he was the first car to plow into the disabled #10-Carpentier, #48-Johnson unable to slow down in time to keep from rear-ending him at the same time.
42) #2-Kurt Busch Ran a mediocre race and found himself in the late stages of the sixth caution of the race when he locked his brakes to whoa up for #10-Carpentier’s destroyed car on the bottom of turn three while racing #17-Kenseth to his inside. Both he and #17-Kenseth slammed into #10-Carpentier, himself receiving the worst of the damage when he plowed into the wreck, then was hit by the crippled #17-Kenseth and finished off with a hit to the rear authored by the spinning #42-Montoya.
43) #10-Patrick Carpentier (R) Excellent fourth-place qualifying run was the high point of the weekend, for he slipped back through the field early and was roughed-up by #42-Montoya once off turn three. He narrowly avoided going a lap down when the second caution came out for debris after the one-quarter mark. He then suffered the worst damage in the sixth caution of the race when his teammate #19-Sadler checked up for the wrecking #96-Yeley on the backstretch, spinning him hard into the inside wall. His car then rebounded off the fence and into turn three traffic, clipping #77-Hornish, Jr. who went into the outside wall with #24-J. Gordon, #01-Smith, and #55-Waltrip slowing behind. #38-Gilliland then slammed him in the rear, spinning his disabled car to the inside just in time to be hit once more by #2-Ku. Busch and #17-Kenseth. The wreck brought out the red flag, but fortunately, he and everyone else was uninjured.
DID NOT QUALIFY:
#21-Jon Wood (R)