Saturday, July 26, 2008

Race 20: The 15th Allstate 400 at the Brickyard


Troubling concerns throughout the weekend about accelerated tire wear on NASCAR’s new car turned the prestigious race into a series of ten lap sprints separated with regularly-scheduled competition cautions. In each sprint, polesitter #48-Jimmie Johnson, who reached 207 mph going into turn one on his 181.763 mph lap, had both the best car and pit stops, leading a race-high 71 laps and, having always taken four fresh tires, often retook the top spot the few times he did not lead the field out of the pits. After #11-Denny Hamlin managed to get away from a suddenly-loose Johnson with less than 40 laps to go, Johnson bided his time, took four tires with 22 to go, blocked a charging #99-Carl Edwards with 18 to go, beat everyone off pit road with his only 2-tire stop with 10 to go and ran away from #99-Edwards in the final seven laps to notch his second Allstate 400 victory in three years. Appropriately, Johnson blew a right-rear tire doing his victory burnouts just like #29-Kevin Harvick had when he also won the event from the pole and as at least five contenders in the race had as well.

1) #48-Jimmie Johnson THE WINNER!
2) #99-Carl Edwards Nearly spun himself out just 2 laps into the race when, while closing fast on #2-Ku. Busch on the backstretch, he cut to the left and, not knowing #88-Earnhardt, Jr. was there, shoved the left-rear corner of his car into the right-front of #88-Earnhardt, Jr. Fortunately, he remained in control and the pucker in the corner of his bumper did not slow his progress. While running 2nd on lap 47, he slowed suddenly with a tire problem, but was ironically saved by teammate #17-Kenseth’s misfortune that brought the fourth caution out some seconds sooner than anticipated. He would retake the lead with 73 laps to go until the Hendrick duo of #48-Johnson and #24-J. Gordon passed him the next lap. His car really came alive in the last 40 laps when he charged up into the third position and with 39 to go took 2nd from #24-J. Gordon just before the ninth caution came out for another competition yellow. After losing 2nd to #48-Johnson on pit road, he got the spot back before the tenth caution with 22 to go and was again locked in a battle with the dominant #48-Johnson. With 18 to go, he was the one chased to the lower groove when #48-Johnson pulled a dramatic block on him coming off of turn four. Led 4 laps.
3) #11-Denny Hamlin Determined to avenge his disastrous 2007 race, he ran in the top 10 all day and made his move during the ninth caution with 39 to go, taking two chrome right-side tires freed-up from one of the Michael Waltrip cars and restarting out front of the dominant #48-Johnson and the rest of the leaders. For the first time in the race, #48-Johnson was unable to pass him and even looked to be losing ground. He remained in the lead with a lightning-quick 2-tire stop under the tenth caution and looked to stay there despite an aluminum can lodged on his grille as #19-E. Sadler and #31-J. Burton battled for second. Unfortunately, in the eleventh and final caution, #48-Johnson’s crew pulled off an even-faster 2-tire change and made the winning pass on pit road. One of his crewmen injured his hand during that final stop when he tried to catch a tire knocked loose by the entering #41-Sorenson. Led 26 laps.
4) #19-Elliott Sadler Like #84-Allmendinger and #31-J. Burton, he remained in contention with a series of two-tire stops and was further aided by the pit position offered by his outstanding sixth-place qualifying run. He led the field off pit road under the seventh caution with 63 to go , but lost the lead to #31-J. Burton as the field entered turn one on the restart with 55 to go. In the final 16 laps, he made his own move toward the front by running up in 3rd, then moving past #31-J. Burton for 2nd after racing him hard for a half-lap with 13 to go. He was trying to reel in #11-Hamlin just before the eleventh and final caution was thrown with 10 to go and lost a couple spots on pit road. Led 5 laps.
5) #24-Jeff Gordon Was firmly a fixture in the top 5 all race long, often running with but unable to pass teammate #48-Johnson. Under the third caution on lap 29, #48-Johnson told him that his tires were visibly coming apart. This particular tire problem may have been due to the fact that his car was visibly smoking its brakes all day long, much as it had in a few previous races this season. Fortunately, his tires did not fail before pitting, and he was able to take the lead from #18-Ky. Busch on lap 35 just before #48-Johnson passed him as well. He ran second leading into the ninth competition caution with 39 to go, but narrowly lost the spot to #99-Edwards when the yellow was thrown. After the final pit scramble, he passed #26-McMurray for 5th on the final lap. Led 7 laps.
6) #26-Jamie McMurray Entered the picture by running third after the sixth caution of the day on lap 82 and, from that point, was solidly in the top 10. He was running 5th in the final run to the checkers, but was passed by #24-J. Gordon on the final lap.
7) #9-Kasey Kahne Ran in the top 5 very early on from the 4th place qualifying spot he earned on Saturday, but slipped back gradually starting around lap 22 when he reported his car was sounding funny due to a cracked header.
8) #16-Greg Biffle Ran up in the top 5 early on, but strangely did not get a lot of television coverage through the race. It was reported, however, that this top 10 finish was the product of an impressive rally after yet another problem on pit road in the race’s second half.
9) #31-Jeff Burton After another marginal qualifying run forced him to start 32nd, he rocketed up through the pack with a combination of strategy and skillful driving, moving him up to 6th on lap 38. The strong run almost seemed like it was going to end when, under the fourth caution on lap 47, he reported that his battery was only pulling 12 volts. The problem went away after he shut off his fans and the crew largely went on the same two-tire strategy as #19-E. Sadler and #84-Allmendinger. He took the lead from #19-E. Sadler with 55 laps to go with a pass on the inside of turn one, hitting one of two birds sitting on the track with the top driver’s side corner of his windshield when the bird could not take off in time. The caution came out a few seconds later when #83-Vickers blew an engine coming into turn one. After the restart, it only took #48-Johnson four more laps to retake the lead from him. Led 10 laps.
10) #84-A.J. Allmendinger Scored his best-career finish after gaining valuable track position by taking two tires under the fourth caution on lap 47 and restarting second behind #18-Ky. Busch, remaining there, then even leading off pit road under the fifth caution on lap 65 and leading under green before #48-Johnson took the lead from him on lap 72. His battle with #48-Johnson did not end there, however, as the two raced hard for 2nd place with 49 to go, exchanging the position three times during that lap. Led 4 laps.
11) #8-Mark Martin Was uncharacteristically oozing with confidence coming into the race, predicting he would win his first Allstate 400 even before he qualified on the outside-pole for the second time in July. Knowing the tire problem would play a significant factor in the race, he drove conservatively, letting some of the leaders by and racing back in 9th by lap 22. Before NASCAR began closing the pits before the competition cautions, he used this to his advantage, pitting on lap 29 just before the competition caution on lap 30 which was moved up to lap 29 when #42-Montoya cut a tire. He did this again on lap 46 before the lap 47 competition caution that was again pre-empted by an on-track incident, this one involving #17-Kenseth.
12) #88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Nearly wrecked out of 6th just 2 laps into the race when #99-Edwards ran up too fast on #2-Ku. Busch and merged on top of him, forcing him to clip the left-rear corner of #99-Edwards. After the crew did not find any damage to his fender while pitting under the first caution on lap 4, he decided to stay out with #70-Leffler under the first competition caution ten laps later. The gamble backfired on lap 25, however, as he suddenly dropped off the pace from the lead with a left-rear tire going down, forcing him to pit a few laps before the third caution on lap 29 and dropping him a lap down with #70-Leffler. After getting the Lucky Dog during one of the many scheduled cautions, he was back up in 13th with 64 laps to go. Led 8 laps.
13) #12-Ryan Newman Announced he would not be returning to Penske on July 14 and is rumored to be the second driver for #20-Stewart’s new part-owner-driver operation in 2009. Had an excellent qualifying run and remained there in the very early stages before slipping barely outside the top 10 for a respectable finish.
14) #6-David Ragan Another silent solid top 10 kind of run fell just shy of the mark in the final scramble to the checkers.
15) #18-Kyle Busch Dominated that Nationwide race at nearby O’Reilly Raceway Park, leading 197 of the 200 laps despite NASCAR’s reducing of the Toyota teams’ horsepower, but had a harder time of it at the Brickyard. After narrowly avoiding involvement in both the second and third cautions of the race by following #2-Ku. Busch and #42-Montoya, he found himself in the lead after the third caution before #24-J. Gordon took it on lap 36. A 2-tire stop under the fourth caution gave him the lead back for the lap 54 restart, but sometime after #48-Johnson regained the lead, he fell 5 mph off the pace with a right-rear tire going down on lap 64. Fortunately, the competition caution, the fifth yellow of the day, saved him exactly one lap later. Led 14 laps.
16) #43-Bobby Labonte Ran as high as 8th at one point and seemed to be firmly in contention for a top 10 finish, but was snagged for a pit road violation when he attempted the strategy of #8-Martin and #1-Truex, Jr. by pitting one lap before the seventh caution, a competition yellow, with 63 to go. At that point, NASCAR had closed pit road and, combined with the right-front tire problem he had and his subsequent speeding out of the pits, lost a lot of track position. He did, however, manage to get most of it back in the remaining laps.
17) #41-Reed Sorenson Clipped the tire taken off of #11-Hamlin in the final round of pit stops, a tire which one of #11-Hamlin’s crewmen tried to catch and injured his hand.
18) #10-Patrick Carpentier (R) The highest-finishing rookie for the fourth time this season and for the third time in the last four races, he was also the highest-qualifying rookie by starting 15th.
19) #07-Clint Bowyer After nearly wrecking in qualifying from driving an extremely-loose race car, forcing him to start 40th, he soldiered his way up to 15th in the race’s first 45 laps and looked to be a contender for the win. Unfortunately, he was unable to move much higher through the pack.
20) #38-David Gilliland NO NOTES
21) #77-Sam Hornish, Jr. (R) Narrowly avoided involvement in the first caution on lap 4 when #55-Waltrip broke loose beneath him in turn two.
22) #47-Marcos Ambrose (R) In his first Cup race since his sterling series debut at Infineon a month before, he locked JTG-Daugherty Racing, his 2009 team, solidly into its first attempted race of the season by securing the 24th spot. Although he was forced to start in the rear due to an engine change during the weekend, he ran a smart and effective race en route to the new best finish of his Cup career.
23) #20-Tony Stewart Formally announced his switch to #14 in 2009 with sponsors Office Depot and Old Spice on his new Stewart-Haas Chevrolets. Ran quietly during the race in a very loose car which, though he did run as high as 5th with 74 to go and had comparably-admirable tire wear to the rest of the field.
24) #1-Martin Truex, Jr. Mimicked the strategy of teammate #8-Martin by pitting from 8th on lap 81 just before the sixth caution, another competition caution on lap 82, allowing him to restart as the leader momentarily before #99-Edwards moved by him for the top spot. Led 3 laps.
25) #66-Scott Riggs Led 1 lap.
26) #5-Casey Mears NO NOTES
27) #45-Terry Labonte NO NOTES
28) #96-J.J. Yeley Barely missed involvement in the first caution of the day on lap 4 when he clipped the grass off turn two to avoid colliding with #55-Waltrip.
29) #78-Joe Nemechek NO NOTES
30) #44-David Reutimann Slapped the outside wall coming off turn one on lap 12.
31) #01-Regan Smith (R) Was forced to a backup car after slapping the turn one wall in qualifying much harder than #28-Kvapil, ultimately failing to complete that lap. Led 1 lap.
32) #70-Jason Leffler Qualified a very respectable 21st and even ran as high as 2nd in the race when he was the only car to stay out with #88-Earnhardt, Jr. after the second caution on lap 14. Unlike #88-Earnhardt, Jr., however, he dropped back quickly after the restart.
33) #7-Robby Gordon NO NOTES
34) #00-Michael McDowell (R) Led 1 lap.
35) #22-Dave Blaney Led 1 lap.
36) #28-Travis Kvapil Smacked the outside wall in turn one during qualifying, but managed to hang on and notch the 28th fastest qualifying speed. His crew successfully repaired his car for Sunday’s race. Led 3 laps.
37) #29-Kevin Harvick Suffered significant damage to the right side of his car when he was involved in the second caution of the race on lap 14 when #2-Ku. Busch broke loose off turn one and hit him in the right-front tire, sending him into the outside wall in a can opener angle that pinched #2-Ku. Busch into the fence as well.
38) #17-Matt Kenseth Brought out the fourth caution of the race on lap 47 when, just before the next competition caution, his right-rear tire exploded on the backstretch, ripping apart the sheetmetal around and including his right-rear window to the point that it left a gaping hole, his car spinning through the grass soon after.
39) #42-Juan Pablo Montoya Raced his way up to 9th from the 13th starting position after 18 laps, but was unfortunately the cause of the third caution on lap 29 just seconds before the competition caution was to be thrown on lap 30 when his right-rear tire shredded coming onto the backstretch, the tire whipping bits of debris out from under his fender. Though the damage did not seem externally significant, it nevertheless dropped him out of contention.
40) #2-Kurt Busch Brought out the second caution of the day on lap 14 just before the first competition caution was going to be thrown when he broke loose off turn one and hit #29-Harvick in #29-Harvick’s right-front tire, causing him to spin into the outside wall in turn two right behind #29-Harvick, who did the same.
41) #15-Paul Menard Suffered significant damage to the right-front and right side of his car when he collided with the spinning #55-Waltrip while running the low groove through turn two on lap 4. The contact caused him to slap the outside wall off turn two and he limped back to the pits for extensive repairs.
42) #83-Brian Vickers After running back in the pack, he made an unscheduled stop on lap 74 when he reported his engine was not pulling enough rpms, forcing repairs which put him behind the wall for several laps. He came back out on the track three competition cautions later only to bring out the eighth caution when the engine let go completely, blowing oil and smoke through turn one right after a restart with 55 laps to go. Led 1 lap.
43) #55-Michael Waltrip Brought out the first caution of the day on lap 4 when, while racing under #77-Hornish, Jr. in turn two, his back end broke loose and started to spin the front of his car into the racing groove. After #96-Yeley barely missed contact by driving through the grass, the car behind #96-Yeley, #15-Menard, plowed into the left-front of his car, sending him hard into the outside wall.

#21-Bill Elliott
#34-Tony Raines
#50-Stanton Barrett
#08-Johnny Sauter

Friday, July 11, 2008

Race 19: 400 at Chicagoland


After winning yet another Nationwide race at the track the night before, rained-out polesitter #18-Kyle Busch dominated much of the 400 in another very loose racecar, battled hard for the lead with #17-Matt Kenseth and #99-Carl Edwards before both had to make unscheduled green-flag stops, and powered past #48-Jimmie Johnson on the final two-lap restart after running up on the back of #48-Johnson coming to the green. In picking up his series-leading seventh win of the season, Busch extended his point lead over #88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and #31-Jeff Burton, who never led and could only finish 15th and 18th, respectively. Busch led a race-high 165 laps, and with his brother Kurt’s win at Loudon, marked the first time brothers had won four straight Sprint Cup races since Tim and Fonty Flock did in September and October of 1955.

1) #18-Kyle Busch THE WINNER!
2) #48-Jimmie Johnson Like #18-Ky. Busch, his attempt to make a fuel-only stop under the second caution on lap 47 backfired, dropping him back in the pack when the race remained green long enough to force everyone to make green-flag stops. He was further distracted by a drooping rear-view mirror that was wobbling too much for him to use. Still, he was able to fight his way back, climbing up to 5th on lap 203. Surprisingly, soon after the restart following the eighth caution of the race, he took the lead from #18-Ky. Busch with 17 to go and looked to be on his way to his second win of the season when the caution fell again with 6 laps to go. On the final two-lap restart, #18-Ky. Busch closed in and raced him up high, retaking the lead when he twitched coming off turn four. He tried to close back in on #18-Ky. Busch on the final lap, but broke loose in the tri-oval and nearly smacked the outside wall in the tri-oval on the way to the checkered flag. Led 15 laps.
3) #29-Kevin Harvick Struggled through the race when, after requesting that his steering wheel be moved forward for the race, his crew had accidentally moved it back, causing his uniform sleeve to hook onto the steering wheel. Despite this, he raced his way into the top 10 on lap 23 and remained a factor for much of the race. Sneaking his way into the top 5, he closed in on #18-Ky. Busch and #48-Johnson in the final two-lap restart and had his fender under #48-Johnson’s quarter-panel coming across the finish line.
4) #16-Greg Biffle Moved up to the 2nd spot when he stayed out under the second caution on lap 47 and took the lead from #24-J. Gordon on lap 57. He remained out front until he was forced to pit during the ensuing green-flag run on lap 94 which, fortunately, cycled through and gave him the lead again on lap 108. Though he was unable to regain the lead after the third caution on lap 111, he remained with the leaders, nearly wrecking with #20-Stewart when the two slid up the track in turn one with 33 laps to go. Led 43 laps.
5) #20-Tony Stewart After announcing his new owner-driver partnership with HAAS-CNC racing to form Stewart-HAAS racing in 2009 and recovering from his Daytona flu, he raced up from 12th to 6th in the first 36 laps, took 2 tires under the second caution on lap 47, and remained in the top 10 for most of the night. While racing teammate #18-Ky. Busch for 4th on lap 62, he came very close to pinching #18-Ky. Busch into the turn four wall, but avoided contact. He took the lead for the first time when #24-J. Gordon and the other cars who stayed out on lap 47 were forced to pit under green on lap 94, then lost it to #16-Biffle when the green-flag stops cycled through on lap 108. When #17-Kenseth and #18-Ky. Busch raced hard for the lead after the third caution, he sped up to the scene and inherited 2nd place when #17-Kenseth slowed, then lost several carlengths himself when he got loose off turn four on lap 123. He caught back up to #18-Ky. Busch for the lead on lap 174, then lost 2nd to #99-Edwards on lap 192. Nearly wrecked with #16-Biffle as the two slid up the track in turn one with 33 to go, but saved it. Led 11 laps.
6) #83-Brian Vickers Moved into contention when he stayed out under the second caution on lap 47, moving him up to 3rd and allowing him to challenge #24-J. Gordon for the 2nd position by lap 60. From there, he remained in or around the top 5 for much of the night, later joined by teammate #84-Allmendinger after the third caution. Led 2 laps.
7) #17-Matt Kenseth Had a very strong top 5 car all night even after his car overheated before the second caution on lap 47, forcing his crew to remove debris from his grille. He got his own chance at the lead when he stayed out under the third caution along with #18-Ky. Busch, #6-Ragan, and #84-Allmendinger. For five laps after the lap 117 restart, he raced side-by-side with #18-Ky. Busch (a la Texas, Fall 2007), allowing #20-Stewart to catch them. Sensing a possible flat tire, he throttled back on lap 121 and let #18-Ky. Busch by before pitting on lap 124 with a flat right-rear tire, putting him a lap down. After racing hard with teammate #26-McMurray for the Lucky Dog, he got it under the fifth caution on lap 177 for debris and began to march up from the 30th position, moving up to 15th on lap 206 and 6th with 9 laps to go. Led 7 laps.
8) #6-David Ragan Optimistic that he could pick up his first Sprint Cup victory, he was consistently in the top 10 after the first green-flag run and flirted with the top 5 in the mid-to-late stages after staying out during the third caution on lap 111.
9) #1-Martin Truex, Jr. After a very difficult week in which he was docked 150 driver and owner points for the infractions at Daytona, he ran a strong, consistent race, climbing from 19th to 9th by the first caution on lap 36. He improved his track position further by taking two tires under the second caution and, while racing for 4th with #99-Edwards on lap 87, nearly smacked the outside wall off turn four. Led 2 laps.
10) #12-Ryan Newman Moved into contention when he stayed out under the second caution on lap 47, moving him up to 4th. After falling back somewhat, he gained 15 spots by taking only two tires under the fifth caution with 41 laps to go, moving him up to 2nd behind #18-Ky. Busch. He was nearly wrecked by #28-Kvapil soon after the ensuing restart when #28-Kvapil swerved up toward him from the apron and lost a few spots in the ensuing shuffle. Fortunately, the last couple caution periods allowed him to remain in the top 10 for one of his best runs since his Daytona 500 victory.
11) #24-Jeff Gordon Took the lead for the first time when he, #16-Biffle, #83-Vickers, #12-Newman, and #70-Leffler stayed out under the second caution on lap 47 and held it for a couple laps on the restart before #16-Biffle took it away on lap 57. Unable to get his car to handle better as the night progressed, he fell back after being passed by #83-Vickers for the 2nd spot. Led 6 laps.
12) #19-Elliott Sadler Determined to finish one of his strong runs after the tough luck at Infineon and Daytona, he raced up into 10th place on lap 206 and took a two-tire stop under the fifth caution with 41 to go, moving him up to 7th. The tires dropped him back a little, but he still picked up a respectable run.
13) #84-A.J. Allmendinger Picked up his best finish since the Pocono 500 by staying out under the third caution on lap 111 and, like #6-Ragan and teammate #83-Vickers, being able to stay there for much of the race. After restarting fourth on lap 117, he was still holding onto 9th on lap 206.
14) #44-David Reutimann Very quietly picked up his best finish since the Coca-Cola 600.
15) #9-Kasey Kahne NO NOTES
16) #88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Track position afforded him by his owner’s points ranking couldn’t translate to a good race run on Saturday when his Michigan-winning car proved unresponsive to the adjustments his crew tried to make through the race, leaving him around 27th for much of the race.
17) #8-Mark Martin Ran the low and middle grooves in a car set up similar to his strong machines at Richmond and Phoenix, running up as high as 8th on lap 136 after starting back in 16th.
18) #42-Juan Pablo Montoya NO NOTES
19) #31-Jeff Burton Plagued by an ill-handling car, he slipped back from his third-place starting spot, nearly wrecking when he slid up into #99-Edwards off turn four just three laps into the race. Things got worse under the first caution on lap 36 when, while pitting with the entire field, he was unable to get into his pit box and turned right, slamming into the left-side door of a pitting #26-McMurray, then receiving a pit road speeding penalty on top of that which dropped him to the tail end of the field. Fortunately, even after making further repairs when he pitted under the second caution, he remained on the lead lap. He was then involved in the third caution on lap 111 when his nose was the one off which #55-Waltrip spun while checking up for #10-Carpentier’s wall contact. Received the Lucky Dog under the fourth caution of the race, which was brought out by debris.
20) #66-Scott Riggs NO NOTES
21) #26-Jamie McMurray Suffered some slight cosmetic damage to the left side door of his car after making contact with #31-Burton on pit road under the first caution, but still remained between 12th and 15th for much of the first part of the race. Like teammate #17-Kenseth, however, he was set back in the order by a cut tire on lap 135, forcing him to pit from 12th just before the caution came out the very next lap. Stuck at the tail end of the lead lap on the restart, he was passed by teammate #17-Kenseth on the ensuing restart for the Lucky Dog and, despite running competitive speeds and fighting #28-Kvapil for his own Lucky Dog, did not receive it himself until the eighth caution with 23 laps to go.
22) #07-Clint Bowyer NO NOTES
23) #22-Dave Blaney Locked the brakes coming onto pit road during the first green-flag pit cycle around lap 101.
24) #96-J.J. Yeley Was forced to start at the back of the pack after coming out of inspection just after the engines were fired on the grid and then, interestingly, was black flagged right after the start after it was discovered his crew had removed weight from his car. He got back the lap he lost as the Lucky Dog under the first caution of the race on lap 36 (NASCAR’s competition caution).
25) #7-Robby Gordon NO NOTES
26) #15-Paul Menard Was part of the seventh caution of the race with 31 to go when, while bumping #70-Leffler down the backstretch, the rear bumper cover of #70-Leffler came off and plastered itself to his left-front fender before it flew off onto the track.
27) #70-Jason Leffler Broke loose coming into turn one on lap four, shoving an unlucky #00-McDowell into the outside wall, but was undamaged in the incident. He moved up into fifth by staying out under the second caution of the day on lap 47, but fell back quickly after the green flag came out. After losing a lap at some point, he received the Lucky Dog under the sixth caution with 41 to go. Brought out the unusual seventh caution with 31 to go when, while being pushed down backstretch by #15-Menard, his rear bumper cover flew off.
28) #2-Kurt Busch Was penalized for too fast entering the pits during the first green-flag pit cycle on lap 101, but after receiving the Lucky Dog under the third caution ten laps later, raced his way back to 17th on lap 206 before a dropped cylinder with 45 to go dropped him back in the field, though still on the lead lap. Led 1 lap.
29) #43-Bobby Labonte In one of two paintschemes honoring the 50th anniversary of team owner Richard Petty’s first NASCAR start in a 1958 convertible race, he unfortunately brought out the eighth caution of the night with 23 laps to go when he spun by himself off turn two and slid through the backstretch grass without hitting anything.
30) #10-Patrick Carpentier (R) The highest-finishing rookie for the third time this season and for the second race in a row. Clipped the outside wall off turn four on lap 111, ultimately bringing out the third caution of the night when his contact caused #55-Waltrip to check up and spin himself off the hood of #31-Burton.
31) #41-Reed Sorenson NO NOTES
32) #99-Carl Edwards After banging doors with the slipping #31-Burton on lap 3, he raced up into second on lap 3 and, when the race was restarted on lap 40 after the first competition caution, he raced leader #18-Ky. Busch extremely hard, hugging the rear bumper of #18-Ky. Busch until he took the lead on lap 45. Pit strategy dropped him further back in the top 10, and though he had trouble figuring out who he was racing for position due to the fast, strung-out field and complained on 155 of being “loose all the way around,” he raced back up into 2nd by passing #20-Stewart on lap 192, then passed #18-Ky. Busch for the lead on lap 203. He was only able to enjoy it for nine laps, however, for on lap 212, he abruptly made an unscheduled stop for what he believed was a flat tire. After changing all four tires only to hear from his crew that none of them were flat, the problem was discovered to be a broken middle splitter bracket that caused his splitter to drag on the pavement and grind away a chunk of it in the center, messing up his car’s handling. Chunks of the splitter brought out the sixth caution with 41 to go, allowing his crew to make repairs to the splitter with tape. Led 15 laps.
33) #5-Casey Mears NO NOTES
34) #01-Regan Smith (R) NO NOTES
35) #21-Bill Elliott NO NOTES
36) #55-Michael Waltrip Brought out the third caution of the night on lap 111 when, while checking up after #10-Carpentier slapped the outside wall coming off turn four, he crossed the nose of #31-J. Burton and spun through the wet infield grass.
37) #77-Sam Hornish, Jr. (R) NO NOTES
38) #45-Terry Labonte Ran a similar Richard Petty’s 50th Anniversary paintscheme to brother and teammate #43-B. Labonte.
39) #78-Joe Nemechek Was forced to start at the back of the pack after an engine change.
40) #11-Denny Hamlin His car ran decent in the early going, but was quickly saddled with a frustrating ignition problem on lap 22 that caused his gauges to “go black.” When switching ignition boxes not only didn’t help, but caused his engine to miss, he stayed out and awaited NASCAR’s lap 36 competition caution as his crew prepared another ignition box. After the crew worked on his car under the first caution, he returned to the track only to slow suddenly on lap 46, limping on the apron and bringing out the second caution the next lap when his car was almost stopped between turns three and four. He received a shove from a wrecker and, after further repairs, returned to the race laps down to the field.
41) #28-Travis Kvapil Locked his brakes coming onto pit road during the first round of green-flag stops around lap 101 and, while avoiding the brake-smoking #22-Blaney in front of him, ran over the commitment cone and was served a penalty that dropped him off the lead lap. After #17-Kenseth got the Lucky Dog under the fifth caution on lap 177, he was the next to fight #26-McMurray for the Lucky Dog on the lap 183 restart. With 35 laps to go, he nearly wrecked #12-Newman out of a top 5 when he cut down onto the apron and slid up into #12-Newman, but avoided serious contact. He received the Lucky Dog under the seventh caution with 31 laps to go, but was then seen limping around the apron just before teammate #38-Gilliland blew his engine to bring out the ninth and final caution of the night with 6 laps to go.
42) #38-David Gilliland Brought out the ninth and final caution of the night when his engine blew in a gigantic plume of smoke with 6 laps to go, his car the only one that did not finish the race under power.
43) #00-Michael McDowell (R) The right side of his car was flattened just four laps into the race when #70-Leffler broke loose under him and shoved him into the outside wall, forcing him to come in for a pit stop under green. After returning to the track, he was forced to pit again on lap 8, the crew checking the alignment of the right-side tires and looking under the hood before sending him back onto the track five laps down. He lost more time when he was caught too fast entering and exiting pit road under the fourth caution on lap 141.

#34-Tony Raines
#08-Johnny Sauter