THE STARTING GRID:
After winning yet another Nationwide race at the track the night before, rained-out polesitter #18-Kyle Busch dominated much of the Lifelock.com 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.
DID NOT QUALIFY:
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