Friday, September 19, 2008

Race 28: Camping World RV 400 Presented By AAA at Dover


It was Roush-Fenway Day at Dover as the cars of #17-Matt Kenseth, #99-Carl Edwards, #26-Jamie McMurray, and #16-Greg Biffle led a combined 285 of the race’s 400 laps, but it was Biffle who came out on top. Biffle himself had a fast car, having qualified in fifth, but dropped back to 27th after he and 16 other cars decided to pit early under the second caution on lap 12. Biffle was back up to 16th on lap 37, 11th on lap 63, 7th on lap 102, and 2nd with 142 laps remaining.

In the second half of the race, Biffle struggled not only with his car’s handling, but oil leaking from the rear gear of #11-Denny Hamlin which covered his windshield. When his crew was only able to get half of the tear-off removed with 130 to go, he held on until the rest was removed when the ninth caution fell 21 laps later. After retaking the lead momentarily from #48-Jimmie Johnson and teammate #99-Edwards with a thrilling three-wide pass with 99 to go, he fell back to 2nd with fears of a tire going down. Fortunately, the tire problem was an illusion and, under the tenth caution with 50 to go, he was in 3rd and ready to go for the win.

What next transpired was a tremendous battle with teammates #99-Edwards and #17-Kenseth after the pair’s side-by-side racing brought him into the equation with 27 to go. For the next 18 laps, he, #17-Kenseth, and #99-Edwards exchanged the lead until Biffle made the winning pass on the outside of a blocking #17-Kenseth with 9 to go and ran away with the win. The win was Biffle’s second in a row, the first time a driver had ever won the first two Chase races, and the first time Roush-Fenway swept the podium since four of them finished first through fourth at Homestead in 2005, another Biffle win. Led 29 laps.

1) #16-Greg Biffle**
2) #17-Matt Kenseth** Took the lead for the first time under the third caution on lap 64 when he led the field off pit road. He held the lead for most of the day, all the way until #48-Johnson stayed out under the eighth caution on lap 186. In the final laps, with teammates #16-Biffle and #99-Edwards racing for the win, he all but conceded the victory from the 4th spot, saying with 55 to go that his car was too loose to contend. Then, when #42-Montoya’s crash brought out the tenth and final caution with 50 to go, his crew was able to make the necessary adjustments to put him back in contention. Two laps after the final restart with 44 to go, he shot past #8-Martin for 2nd and bumped #99-Edwards into turn three for the lead with 29 to go, setting up the scramble to the finish. #16-Biffle caught him for 2nd with 27 to go, forcing his hand to pass #99-Edwards on the outside with 23 to go. #16-Biffle then hugged his bumper for the lead with 20 to go and sparked a side-by-side battle with 14 to go as he fought to hold the outside line. As he blocked #16-Biffle’s run on the bottom with 14 to go, the two caught lapped traffic, which brought #99-Edwards back into the equation. With 9 to go and #99-Edwards applying pressure to them both, #16-Biffle then tried to pass him on the outside down the backstretch. He blocked up high, but lost momentum and #16-Biffle made the winning pass off turn four. Led a race-high 136 laps.
3) #99-Carl Edwards** After marching his way through the field from the 22nd starting spot, he narrowly avoided disaster on lap 12 when he crossed paths with the spinning car of #10-Carpentier on the backstretch. He made slight contact with the right side of the #10, causing a minor dent on his front bumper and a tire mark on his right-rear quarter-panel. Crew Chief Bob Osborne ruled the damage was slight and kept him out on the track. The gambled paid off as the tire didn’t cut down before the next yellow and he was up to 4th on lap 86. He led off pit road under the eighth caution on lap 186 by taking two tires, but found himself behind several cars who had stayed out with new leader #48-Johnson. From there, he picked his way through the field, moving up to 6th with 180 to go. With 77 to go, he retook the lead from #16-Biffle, who had taken the top spot from him with 99 to go, and looked to be sure to take the victory when the tenth and final caution fell with 50 to go. There, his crew made the fateful decision to change only 2 tires while, unbeknownst to them until it was too late, everyone else took 4. He led off pit road by open ground, but immediately found himself in a tight spot that put teammates #17-Kenseth and #16-Biffle all over his rear bumper with 29 to go. #17-Kenseth, pressured by #16-Biffle, passed him on the outside with 24 to go, #16-Biffle inching by soon after as the two looked to settle the race amongst themselves. Saying “it’s not over” after his crew chief apologized, however, he closed back in when his teammates started racing side-by-side. Hugging the bottom lane and getting through the middle of the corner very quickly, he looked like he was going to pass both cars through turns one and two with 10 to go, but when #16-Biffle took the lead the next lap, he couldn’t quite catch the twosome. Still holds the points lead by 10 points over both #48-Johnson and #16-Biffle. Led 85 laps.
4) #8-Mark Martin He came just 0.001 second shy of taking the pole away from #24-J. Gordon on Friday, but still had an excellent afternoon on Sunday. Even as #48-Johnson worked his strategy near the halfway point, he was never far from the top 10 and positioned himself as the biggest Chase spoiler for the race after #26-McMurray wrecked. He narrowly avoided disaster on the lap 192 restart when he bumped the loose #88-Earnhardt, Jr. off turn four. In the final 100 laps after the pivotal caution with 109 to go, he was very much on the march toward the lead, sprinting up to 2nd past #16-Biffle with 72 to go. He was still 2nd to #99-Edwards on the final restart with 44 to go, but may have broken loose as #17-Kenseth got by him 2 laps later. He caught his car once again and inched towards the lead trio in the final scramble with 10 to go, but couldn’t quite make up the deficit.
5) #48-Jimmie Johnson** Picking his way through the field from a surprisingly-bad 20th place qualifying run, he narrowly avoided involvement in the second caution of the race on lap 12 when #10-Carpentier spun right in front of him off turn two. Mired back in the pack as the Roush cars proceeded to dominate the race, he took a gamble by staying out under the eighth caution on lap 186 along with several other drivers, all of them hoping for a caution that would put them on the same sequence as the leaders. With no caution falling with 160 to go, however, he was forced to pit, but the crew performed an excellent 13.3 second stop that kept him in the hunt, though a lap down. He regained the lap and the lead when stops cycled through with 129 to go as the rest of the previous leaders pitted under green, but faced the dual problems of having older tires and the possibility that he would have to make an extra pit stop in the final stages. Though #99-Edwards, then 2nd, was chasing him down he finally got the caution he needed when debris was spotted with 109 to go. He kept the lead off pit road under that yellow, lost the lead in a 3-wide pass with #99-Edwards and #16-Biffle with 99 to go, and slipped back to 5th, where he hovered for much of the rest of the race. Led 81 laps.
6) #29-Kevin Harvick** Moved into the top 10 with 113 to go, maintaining his underdog presence from New Hampshire the week before. He continued to improve in the laps after that, moving up to 6th with 72 to go and being clocked as the fastest car on the track with 55 to go. Led 1 lap.
7) #24-Jeff Gordon** After being fastest in Friday’s morning practice, he snagged the pole. On Sunday, he led the opening laps and looked to end his year-long winless drought, but his car was very loose and was passed by the surging #26-McMurray on lap 31. He held the 2nd spot off pit road under the third caution on lap 64, but fell back on the restart as his car continued to handle poorly. He made a long pit stop under the seventh caution on lap 171 for chassis adjustments, which seemed to help in the final part of the race. He stayed out with teammate #48-Johnson under the eighth caution on lap 186 to restart in 5th. After the last two cautions, he was back in 8th, and gained a spot in the final laps. Led 30 laps.
8) #07-Clint Bowyer** Led 2 laps.
9) #31-Jeff Burton** NO NOTES
10) #55-Michael Waltrip After a solid day around 15th spot in the latter stages, he avoided disaster with 37 to go when #22-Blaney tried to cross his nose and puckered his left-front fender. Picked up his best finish since the rain-shortened runner-up finish at New Hampshire in June, getting past #20-Stewart for 10th in the final few laps. Led 1 lap.
11) #20-Tony Stewart** Nearly collided with the spinning #15-Menard during the first caution of the race on lap 2, but avoided contact by driving through the grass on the apron of turns one and two.
12) #22-Dave Blaney Was another driver who benefitted from following #48-Johnson’s gamble on lap 186, improving his already-strong run to sit 3rd on the lap 192 restart. He pitted from 5th with 156 to go, then again moved his way up the pack as green-flag stops continued. Nearly wrecked with #55-Waltrip with 37 to go when he merged up into #55, creasing #55's left-front fender with his right-rear.
13) #12-Ryan Newman Restarted 2nd on the lap 192 restart after he stayed out with #48-Johnson and took the green right behind him. As with #48-Johnson, he didn’t get the caution when he needed it and pitted with 163 to go.
14) #43-Bobby Labonte Lost a lap, then received the Lucky Dog under the fifth caution when #84-Allmendinger and #9-Kahne made contact on lap 157.
15) #5-Casey Mears Lost a lap, then received the Lucky Dog under the tenth and final caution when #42-Montoya crashed with 50 laps to go.
16) #84-A.J. Allmendinger Was part of the fifth caution on lap 157 when what was originally believed to be engine smoke turned out to be the result of #9-Kahne bumping into his left-rear tire, causing sheetmetal to rub on his tire and produce the smoke. He recovered nicely by putting himself on the same strategy as #48-Johnson, #12-Newman, and others under the eighth caution of the race on lap 186, moving him up to 4th for the lap 192 restart. Moved back into the top 35 in owners points by bumping out #00-McDowell and now sits 34th in owners points, 3 points ahead of 35th place #7-R. Gordon.
17) #44-David Reutimann Qualified 14th, but promptly moved up to the top 10, where he hovered between 5th and 8th for almost the entire race. Still in that position when the tenth and final caution came out with 50 to go, bad luck struck when he pitted outside his box, NASCAR holding him a lap as a result. He wound up finishing as the first car off the lead lap.
18) #6-David Ragan NO NOTES
19) #38-David Gilliland After qualifying in the top 10 again with a strong 7th place run, he brought out the first caution of the afternoon on lap 2 when he overdrove turn 1 and wobbled up into #2-Ku. Busch, who spun into the outside wall. The incident caused some cosmetic damage to his right-front fender, but he kept going on the lead lap.
20) #1-Martin Truex, Jr. NO NOTES
21) #15-Paul Menard Was involved in the first caution of the day on lap 2 when, while checking up for the wrecking #2-Ku. Busch, he spun to the apron and nearly collected #20-Stewart in the process.
22) #7-Robby Gordon Working to hang on to the 35th spot in owner’s points, he was once again the most difficult lapped car to pass during the race. During one battle to get into the Lucky Dog position off turn four on lap 163, his car wobbled up the track and into the strong car of #26-McMurray, sending #26 hard into the outside wall. Still hangs onto 35th in owner’s points, but now by only 8 points over #00-McDowell.
23) #28-Travis Kvapil NO NOTES
24) #88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr.** After running decent in practice and expecting around a quiet 15th place run, he struggled mightily on Sunday with a very ill-handling car. After qualifying 10th, he slid back to 20th by lap 81, at which point he nearly spun coming off turn four. After losing a lap to #17-Kenseth on lap 143, he brought out the fourth caution of the race when he cut a right-rear tire and spun off turn four, ripping at his right-rear quarter-panel and requiring a large patch over the right-rear window of his car (similar to #42-Montoya at Indianapolis). The patch didn’t seem to help as he was very loose on the lap 192 restart, at which point he was nearly run over by the closing #8-Martin.
25) #66-Scott Riggs NO NOTES
26) #9-Kasey Kahne Was part of the fifth caution of the race on lap 157 when he merged up into the left-rear of #84-Allmendinger, causing damage to the left-rear corner of #84 that made his car pour smoke.
27) #19-Elliott Sadler Went down a lap early on, got it back as the Lucky Dog under the third caution of the race on lap 64, then immediately suffered a pit road speeding penalty under the yellow that kept him at the back of the pack.
28) #70-Tony Raines Qualified very well in the 13th spot, but became a rolling road block while still defending the position on lap 23 before the field started to get by.
29) #00-Michael McDowell (R) The highest-finishing rookie for the sixth time this season and the second time in three races, putting him two races behind leaders #01-Smith and #77-Hornish, Jr. with eight apiece. Sometime before the third caution of the race on lap 64, he suffered some damage to the right-rear corner of his car, upon which his crew applied tape. Fell out of the top 35 due to finishing behind #7-R. Gordon and #84-Allmendinger and is now 36th in owner’s points, 8 points behind #7-R. Gordon.
30) #41-Reed Sorenson NO NOTES
31) #83-Brian Vickers Was involved in the seventh caution on lap 171 when he crossed the nose of #77-Hornish, Jr. off turn four and nearly spun.
32) #21-Marcos Ambrose (R) Despite scuffing the outside wall in turns one and two on the lap 70 restart following the third caution of the race and losing a lap, he ironically had a good race for much of the day after he got the Lucky Dog under the sixth caution on lap 163. He was running up in 18th with 196 to go.
33) #96-Ken Schrader Hit the wall in practice on Friday, but started in the back anyway after qualifying 43rd that afternoon.
34) #2-Kurt Busch Sustained damage to the rear of his car during the first caution of the race on lap 2 when #38-Gilliland wobbled underneath him in turn one and sent him backing into the outside wall, crunching the rear of his car. Despite the damage, he only lost one lap and returned to the track, where he got the Lucky Dog when #10-Carpentier’s spin brought out the second caution on lap 12. After that, despite his damage, he actually remained on the lead lap, running 26th on lap 40. However, more debris started to fall off his car in the final stages and both he and #77-Hornish, Jr. were black-flagged for dropping debris with 87 to go.
35) #78-Joe Nemechek Brought out the third caution of the day on lap 64 when he blew a right-front tire entering turn three and slammed into the outside wall. He returned the race several laps down.
36) #26-Jamie McMurray Looked to be the big Chase spoiler for the race when, after starting 9th, he rocketed toward the lead, climbing to 3rd by lap 25, 2nd on lap 26, and by leader #24-J. Gordon on lap 31, after which he opened up more than a full-second lead on the rest of the field. His car was so good, in fact, that on lap 46, he called in that he was only “cruising” and would have enough car left for the end of the race. One Achilles’ heel was his pit crew, at least one of his tire changers switched with #17-Kenseth’s to aid his teammate in the Chase. A slower, but not terrible stop dropped him back a few spots under the third caution on lap 64, but he was back to catching 2nd place #24-J. Gordon on lap 83 and leader #17-Kenseth in traffic on lap 112. The cinderella story ended, however, when he became involved in the sixth caution of the race on lap 163. There, while racing on the outside of #7-R. Gordon’s lapped car through turn four, #7-R. Gordon wobbled up and into him, causing his car to slap the outside wall hard enough to flatten the right side of his car and compromise the car’s handling. Angry, he stopped in front of #7-R. Gordon for a moment before continuing down pit road. He returned to the track laps down to the leader on lap 186. Led 35 laps.
37) #01-Regan Smith (R) Went to the garage area after an undisclosed mechanical problem with 150 to go and returned to the track around the same time as #11-Hamlin.
38) #11-Denny Hamlin** A decent run turned sour by the seventh caution on lap 171 when he was forced to make several pit stops after his rear gear started to leak fluid onto the track. With180 to go, several cars, particularly #16-Biffle, complained that the oil leak was still a problem. With 156 to go, he limped back to pit road under green with a flat right-rear tire. The problem turned out to be much worse, however, as the car was not under power. The crew took the car behind the wall and proceeded to replace both axles, the rear gear, and the driveshaft. He was back on track several laps down before there were 113 laps to go.
39) #42-Juan Pablo Montoya Looked to be having another strong run in the very car he raced at Indianapolis in July when he, too, stayed out with #48-Johnson under the eighth caution on lap 186 to restart in 6th. However, the run went south with 50 to go when, while still on the lead lap, he blew a right-front tire and slammed the outside wall, severely damaging the right side of his machine.
40) #45-Kyle Petty NO NOTES
41) #10-Patrick Carpentier (R) Brought out the second caution of the race on lap 12 when he broke loose off turn two and spun 180 degrees, #99-Edwards making slight contact with him as the #99 tried to squeeze by up high. His car then slid down the banking and came to rest against the inside wall, requiring lengthy repairs to the rear of his car. He returned to the track on lap 71 several laps down.
42) #77-Sam Hornish, Jr. (R) Was involved in the seventh caution of the race on lap 171 when #83-Vickers came across his nose off turn four, forcing him to slap the outside wall enough for the rear bumper cover to fly off his car. His handling worsened by the contact, he then wobbled up the track in turn one and slapped the outside wall. He then brought out the eighth caution on his own just a few laps later on lap 186 when he backed into the wall in turns one and two. The dual incidents caused more debris to fall from his car, likely bringing out the ninth caution for debris with 109 to go, and he was black-flagged along with teammate #2-Ku. Busch for loose debris on his car.
43) #18-Kyle Busch** The weekend started off promising with an 11th place starting spot and a dominant win in the Nationwide Series race, but he never contended for the win on Sunday. After hovering around 10th for much of the race’s first half, he lost a few spots under the third caution when #38-Gilliland stopped short in the pit stall in front of him, forcing him to back up before leaving pit road. Fighting to make up lost ground, he made a daring pass between #41-Sorenson and #48-Johnson for position on lap 140, but reported just two laps later that his engine was blowing up. The smoke pouring from his car grew thicker when #88-Earnhardt, Jr.’s spin brought out the fourth caution on lap 141, but he still pitted with the leaders and returned to the track, committed to running the car until it expired altogether. The car spouted less smoke on the lap 148 restart, but he radioed in that there was oil in the cockpit. Still, he remained on the track and on the lead lap through the seventh caution on lap 171, at which point the engine finally let go, forcing him behind the wall.

#34-Chad Chaffin
#50-Stanton Barrett (withdrew)
#08-Johnny Sauter

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