Friday, May 30, 2008

Race 13: Best Buy 400 at Dover


#18-Kyle Busch claimed the series-leading fourth win of 2008 on a bittersweet day for team owner Joe Gibbs, whose other two cars of #11-Denny Hamlin and #20-Tony Stewart were taken out in a massive lap 18 pileup. Busch remained in the top three all day but ultimately won the race thanks to his pit crew, who got him the lead from #99-Carl Edwards during the second round of green flag stops with 167 to go, then widened his lead with a blistering 12.7 second green-flag stop with 82 laps to go. Three seconds ahead of Edwards after that final stop, Busch lapped all but the top six cars to win his first race at Dover going away. Busch led 158 laps en route to the victory and padded his point lead over #31-Jeff Burton, who finished off the lead lap for the first time in 2008.

1) #18-Kyle Busch
2) #99-Carl Edwards Took the lead from teammate #16-Biffle on lap 172 and looked to have the car to beat until #18-Ky. Busch beat him off pit road during the second round of green-flag stops with around 167 laps to go. He closed within 0.4 second before the final round of pit stops, but wound up losing even more ground to #18-Ky. Busch when that final green-flag stop with 82 to go. Led 64 laps.
3) #16-Greg Biffle Won the pole by more than a full mile per hour on the rest of the field and dominated well over the first quarter of the race, leading all but 1 of the first 147 laps. Unfortunately, his bad luck returned once again with a voltage problem from a failing alternator that forced him to shut off all his fans except the right-front bead blower. This problem, which arose on lap 171, allowed teammate #99-Edwards to take the lead and hold it until the late stages. Gradually, his lap times, which had fallen to 2 mph slower than the leaders, began to level out and he remained on the lead lap and in the top 3. Led a race-high 164 laps.
4) #17-Matt Kenseth Had one of the fastest cars on the track in the first half of the race and looked to be making a surge toward the lead, but his car leveled out in the top five as the field became more and more strung out. Led 1 lap.
5) #24-Jeff Gordon Had one of his most solid races so far in 2008 and successfully defended his come-from-behind top 5 in last week’s 600-mile race. He stayed out two laps longer than the rest of the field in the final round of green-flag stops so he could get five bonus points for leading a lap, a gamble which paid off with him remaining in the top 5 and on the lead lap. Led 3 laps.
6) #1-Martin Truex, Jr. The defending champion of the race had a good car, but consistent problems with burning through his tires too quickly kept him from contention.
7) #48-Jimmie Johnson Climbed up to 5th around the halfway mark, but was again strangely absent from the contenders for the win. He was the last car taken off the lead lap by leader #18-Ky. Busch, losing his lap with 30 laps to go after his attempt at a crossover move failed. Led 2 laps.
8) #31-Jeff Burton Was the biggest mover through the field in the opening laps, gaining 23 spots in the first 58 circuits. He and #8-Martin narrowly avoided contact in the big lap 18 wreck by practically stopping on the backstretch as #29-Harvick and #21-Elliott piled in. Under the green-flag stretches, he lost touch with the leaders, then his lap, and battling with #26-McMurray for the Lucky Dog with 59 to go proved futile when the caution never came. This became the first race in which he had finished off the lead lap in 2008.
9) #22-Dave Blaney The resurgence from his Talladega DNQ continued with another solid top 10 finish, remaining at or around the 10th spot all day long before passing #26-McMurray in the final laps.
10) #26-Jamie McMurray Turned in one of his best runs of 2008 with a performance similar to Martinsville, defending his fifth-place qualifying run to remain in the top 5 with his teammates through the first 108 laps. However, he, like so many, lost touch with the top three and soon found himself a lap down. He fought with #31-Burton for the Lucky Dog with 59 laps to go, but the caution never came, trapping both cars one lap down. Led 1 lap.
11) #28-Travis Kvapil Running the same car he used to finish 8th at Darlington turned out to be an excellent decision as he qualified 12th and flirted with the top 10 all day long.
12) #42-Juan Pablo Montoya On lap 80, he received a bump to his left-rear quarter-panel from #38-Gilliland, which sent him up the track in turn one just like #44-Reutimann, fortunately without hitting the outside wall.
13) #83-Brian Vickers Had a car that could have easily finished in the top 10 all day and ran there for much of the event after qualifying up in the sixth position. While running fifth with 167 laps to go, however, he was docked for speeding off pit road and, after apparently receiving a timely caution when the fifth caution for debris came out less than 10 laps later, he sped off pit road again along with #40-Mayfield, dropping both cars to the tail end of the longest line and keeping them off the lead lap for the rest of the race.
14) #12-Ryan Newman Was plagued by terrible fuel mileage as he was the first to pit in the first round of green-flag stops on lap 147 as well as the second round on lap 173. He complained of his car having “no grip” and, after gambling by taking on fuel under the fifth caution (for debris) on lap 242 which allowed him to pit almost 10 laps after everyone else, he wound up pitting with 74 to go, his crew working under the trunk lid after suffering the same fuel flange problem as teammate #2-Ku. Busch. Led 6 laps.
15) #6-David Ragan Ironically, after all his great runs this season, it was he who was unable to find as much speed as his Roush-Fenway teammates, and he hovered around the 15th spot for much of the day. Still a good finish for the surprising sophomore, who swooped to the inside behind #15-Menard to barely avoid involvement in the lap 18 wreck.
16) #38-David Gilliland Was at the center of the huge wreck that brought out the first caution and red flag when #19-E. Sadler merged on top of him coming off turn two on lap 18, then on lap 80 bumped #42-Montoya up the track in turn one.
17) #5-Casey Mears Stopped on the apron on the backstretch to avoid involvement in the lap 18 wreck when #11-Hamlin and #88-Earnhardt, Jr. blocked his path.
18) #77-Sam Hornish, Jr. (R) Became the top-finishing rookie once again with six races to #01-Smith’s five despite scrubbing the outside wall coming off turn four on lap 83 without bringing out a caution. Bumped #66-Riggs out of the top 35.
19) #7-Robby Gordon Had to start in the very back as Matt Crafton practiced and qualified his car while he was in Baja for a rally.
20) #2-Kurt Busch Scored his first-ever front row start at Dover by qualifying second and seemed to have a car that could at least finish in the top 10, but like #16-Biffle, his own bad luck returned. Under the fourth caution of the race, the flange on his quarter-panel’s fuel receiver broke, forcing the crew to lift the rear trunk lid and repair it. The problem resurfaced some laps later in teammate #12-Nemwan’s car.
21) #01-Regan Smith (R) NO NOTES
22) #15-Paul Menard Avoided serious contact in the major lap 18 wreck by slipping through on the very bottom of the track before #88-Earnhardt, Jr. closed that hole, but still crumpled up the right-rear of his car when the back of his car got loose on the apron and slapped the inside fence. Despite this, his car was still strong enough to put up a good fight from going a lap down to the leaders and, before the fifth caution, he came up just shy of leading a lap during green-flag stops.
23) #8-Mark Martin Avoided involvement in the lap 18 wreck by practically stopping with #31-Burton on the backstretch around the time that #29-Harvick and #21-Elliott piled in, but was very unhappy with how his car handled in the race. A flat left-rear tire which forced him to pit just before the fifth caution of the race did not help his efforts.
24) #96-J.J. Yeley Grazed the outside wall off turn one on lap 2, but did not bring out a caution. He lost a lap early, regained it as the Lucky Dog under the third caution brought out by #78-Nemechek, then lost it again in the long green-flag runs which followed.
25) #40-Jeremy Mayfield Turned in by far the best qualifying run for both he and the #40 team by snagging the 10th spot, but could not keep himself on the lead lap during the race’s many long green-flag runs. Mired in traffic, he physically chased #10-Carpentier up the track in turn four on lap 168, perhaps due to a loose condition, and wound up cutting #10-Carpentier’s left-rear tire. He was also docked for speeding off pit road with 158 to go along with #83-Vickers.
26) #41-Reed Sorenson NO NOTES
27) #44-David Reutimann Nearly scraped the outside wall just 9 laps into the race when he made contact with #78-Nemechek racing to his inside in turn one, forcing him to slide up very close to the outside wall.
28) #55-Michael Waltrip Broke loose in turn four on lap 75, allowing #78-Nemechek to nearly complete a pass on him coming off the corner, but the two merged together and #78-Nemechek was hooked off his nose and into the frontstretch wall, bringing out the third caution of the race.
29) #10-Patrick Carpentier Made contact with the outside wall coming off turn four on lap 75, a split-second before #78-Nemechek followed suit to bring out the third caution of the race. He did not bring out a caution himself, but was forced to pit under green on lap 169 when, during the previous lap, #40-Mayfield pushed him up the track in turn four and cut his left-rear tire.
30) #00-Michael McDowell (R) Was the only other person besides #16-Biffle to lead a lap in the first 147 laps when he stayed out an extra lap during one of the first cautions. Led 1 lap.
31) #9-Kasey Kahne Slowed up to the outside of #88-Earnhardt, Jr. as the two attempted to find a way between #19-E. Sadler and #20-Stewart’s wrecked cars during the big lap 18 wreck, but was then rear-ended by #11-Hamlin and forced to bump into the right-front of #19-E. Sadler, damaging both ends of his car. His car did return to the race and was in touch enough with the leaders that he got the lucky dog under the second caution of the race brought out by #34-Raines.
32) #43-Bobby Labonte Suffered some minor damage in the big lap 18 wreck when he rear-ended #88-Earnhardt, Jr. while trying to slow down, creasing up the right-front of his bumper.
33) #21-Bill Elliott Attempted to slow down in the late stages of the big lap 18 pileup as he followed #29-Harvick off turn two, but wound up making contact with #29-Harvick and spinning with him into the wreck. While #29-Harvick spun into the wreck itself, he was fortunate enough to spin through an opening on the outside lane avoid most of the carnage until he backed into the rear of #07-Bowyer.
34) #78-Joe Nemechek Made some contact with #44-Reutimann while racing him in turn one on lap 9. On lap 75, when he saw #55-Waltrip break loose up high off turn four, he attempted to go in the middle between #55-Waltrip and another car to make a three-wide pass, but was then hooked into the frontstretch wall by #55-Waltrip, bringing out the third caution of the race. He returned to the event several laps down.
35) #88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr. During the initial stages of the huge lap 18 wreck, he slowed up to the inside of #9-Kahne as the two attempted to maneuver around the two wrecked cars of #20-Stewart and #19-E. Sadler, but was later rear-ended by #43-Labonte and stuffed into the inside wall on the backstretch, jamming his splitter under the inside fence. There was not too much damage to the front valence of his car, but the left-front corner was flattened and part of the splitter beneath that point was broken. He returned to the race 10 laps down, but for some time actually ran very competitive laps.
36) #07-Clint Bowyer Attempted to sneak through the big lap 18 wreck by going up high near #66-Riggs, but still suffered some damage to the left-rear of his car when #21-Elliott spun around and backed into him. Though the damage was minor, trouble found him again with 188 to go when an unscheduled stop for a possible cut tire turned out to actually be a broken shock, forcing him to pit once again seven laps later for the crew to lift the hood. The right-front of his splitter was also found to be broken during the stop.
37) #84-A.J. Allmendinger After managing to remain on the lead lap and in the top 15 for much of the race’s first half, he brought out the fourth caution of the race when, after making his green-flag stop toward the end of the cycle on lap 154, a fuel pressure problem caused his car to stop on the apron in turn one.
38) #29-Kevin Harvick Was running well behind the lap 18 pileup that brought out the first caution and red flag of the race, but wound up being involved when #21-Elliott rear-ended him, sending his car ricocheting off the back of #20-Stewart and into the stopped #11-Hamlin. He returned to the race many laps down around the halfway mark with the entire front end and much of the rear removed from his car. To add insult to injury, his jackman also dropped the car on one of his fellow crewman’s foot which, at least on camera, fortunately did not seem to cause an injury.
39) #66-Scott Riggs Had nowhere to go in the massive lap 18 pileup when, while running the outside lane, #11-Hamlin slammed #19-E. Sadler directly into his path, crumpling the front of his Chevrolet bad enough to send him to the garage. The accident, which dropped him out of the top 35, capped a horrible week for HAAS-CNC where he and his teammate were docked 150 points each for their team’s improper rear wing brackets, an announcement followed by the #70 team DNQ’ing for this event with interim driver Jason Leffler.
40) #34-Tony Raines As the last-place starter at Dover, he had to share the last pit stall with #41-Sorenson through the early stages of the race. Brought out the second caution of the race when, after cutting a tire and missing the pit road entrance on lap 66, he stopped up high in turn four. He was subsequently penalized by NASCAR for the time he would have lost if he had pitted under green.
41) #20-Tony Stewart Locked his brakes coming off turn two when he saw #19-E. Sadler wrecking on the backstretch on lap 18 and wound up plowing into the right-rear of #19-E. Sadler, the two cars blocking the track. He escaped much of the further pummeling suffered by #19-E. Sadler as his contact moved #19-E. Sadler further down the track, but was himself further damaged by #29-Harvick when he and #21-Elliott spun late in the wreck’s aftermath. Miraculously, his crew managed to get his car back into the race 114 laps down with a brand-new front clip. His car dropped to the apron in turn three with 86 laps to go as perhaps one of the first cars to pit in the final round of green-flag stops.
42) #19-Elliott Sadler While racing mid-pack on lap 18 after a solid qualifying effort, he accidentally merged down on #38-Gilliland coming off turn two, sending his car spinning rear-first into the outside wall. His car stopped in the middle of the track and was then struck very hard by #20-Stewart, essentially blocking the track. As #9-Kahne and #88-Earnhardt, Jr. stopped short of hitting him, #11-Hamlin piled in to his right-front, knocking teammate #9-Kahne into his left-front and simultaneously spinning his disabled car directly in the path of #66-Riggs, who knocked him into yet another spin that was finally stopped by the wrecking car of #29-Harvick. Fortunately, no drivers were harmed in the pileup.
43) #11-Denny Hamlin Looked to be bouncing back from a poor 33rd place starting position when he won the rain-delayed Nationwide race on Saturday, but it just wasn’t meant to be. He was involved in the big lap 18 pileup that brought out the first caution and red flag when, moments after teammate #20-Stewart hit #19-E. Sadler, he plowed into the back of #9-Kahne and the left-front of #19-E. Sadler, knocking #19-E. Sadler directly into the path of #66-Riggs. His car was damaged further when #29-Harvick slid into the melee. Both he and #19-E. Sadler did not return to the track.

#45-Chad McCumbee (R)
#70-Jason Leffler

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