Saturday, November 1, 2008

Race 34: Dickies 500 at Texas

THE STARTING GRID:






THE WINNER:
Determined to turn up the pressure even more on points-leader #48-Johnson, #99-Carl Edwards dominated to win at Texas. His car was lightning-fast from the start, taking the lead for the first time on lap 57 and, at times, leading by more than seven full seconds on the rest of the field. However, the same long green-flag runs which allowed Edwards to lap all but 11 cars set up a fuel mileage race following the fifth and final caution with 71 to go. The caution had scrambled up the field as #26-McMurray, #1-Truex, Jr., and others took two tires to start ahead of Edwards’ dominant machine. After originally deciding to pit with them close to the finish, Edwards decided with 18 to go that he would try and stretch his fuel 69 laps. After slowing noticeably the final 10 laps, Edwards pulled out the victory, his eighth of the season. Edwards became the first driver to sweep the season’s two Texas races and marked the fourth straight year that the winner of the fall Atlanta race went on to win Texas the following week. With #48-Johnson’s 15th place finish, Edwards has now closed within 106 points of #48 with 2 races to go. Led a race-high 212 laps.















RESULTS:
1) #99-Carl Edwards**
THE WINNER!
2) #24-Jeff Gordon** After being the fastest car in Friday’s practice, he surprised even himself in picking up his first pole at Texas. He led the opening laps of Sunday’s race before #07-Bowyer took the lead from him on lap 15. The early optimism seemed to wane from there as he fell to 18th, the last car on the lead lap, on lap 212. He lost the lap sometime after, then got it back as the Lucky Dog when #38-Gilliland and #42-Montoya’s controversial wreck brought out the fifth and final caution with 71 to go. Though a lap down again in the final stages, he decided to gamble along with #99-Edwards and #88-Earnhardt, Jr. and decided not to pit in the final 69 laps. Led 15 laps.
3) #26-Jamie McMurray Continued his late-season rally with a fourth-place starting spot and another outstanding run. Never far from the top 5, he retook his 3rd spot from #07-Bowyer on lap 74 with a daring pass down low into turn three. 2 laps later, he moved to 2nd. After running around 3rd in the runs that followed, he finally took the lead through pit strategy under the fifth and final caution with 71 to go, taking two tires along with a few other drivers. Surprisingly, his car ran even faster on the old tires and, after the restart with 65 to go, he’d opened up a 5.8 second lead with 56 to go. He pitted for the final time with 14 to go, but had an excellent stop and finished ahead of all the others who’d pitted in the final laps. Led 56 laps.
4) #07-Clint Bowyer** Took the lead from #24-J. Gordon on lap 15, lost it briefly during the first round of green-flag stops around lap 49, and retook it on lap 56 just before #99-Edwards passed him right before #41-Sorenson brought out the first caution on lap 57. Under the fifth and final caution with 71 to go, he took 2 tires along with #26-McMurray, #1-Truex, Jr., and others to get back some of his lost track position. He’d caught #26-McMurray for the lead with 19 to go, but had to pit with the rest of the field with 14 to go as #99-Edwards, #24-J. Gordon, and #88-Earnhardt, Jr. proved to be the only three trying to finish the final 69 laps on one tank of fuel. Led 36 laps.
5) #16-Greg Biffle** Certain he had to win to keep his Chase hopes alive, he clawed from the 19th starting spot to the top five following the first caution on lap 57, then up to 2nd on lap 157. Still, despite his efforts, he was 4.5 seconds behind teammate #99-Edwards on lap 169. On lap 214, he’d fallen back to 5th after he’d missed the entrance to pit road during green-flag stops and then had a slow pit stop after a crewman tripped over his team’s airhose. Led 2 laps.
6) #18-Kyle Busch** On Saturday, he picked up his record-tying 10th Nationwide Series victory, tying the great Sam Ard for whom he later pledged a $100,000 donation. He struggled in qualifying for the Cup race, starting 29th, but was up to 8th by lap 85. Just before the fourth caution with 88 to go, he’d moved up to 2nd past #44-Reutimann and looked to be on his way to his first win since Watkins Glen. He pitted for the final time with 20 to go. Led 2 laps.
7) #29-Kevin Harvick** After running in the back of the top 10 for most of the race, he pitted for the final time with around 18 to go.
8) #1-Martin Truex, Jr. Under the fifth and final caution with 71 to go, he took 2 tires along with #26-McMurray, #07-Bowyer, and others to get better track position. He pitted for the final time with 20 to go.
9) #17-Matt Kenseth** After running in the back of the top 10 for most of the race, he pitted for the final time with around 22 to go.
10) #44-David Reutimann After starting 12th, his car rocketed to the front in a run similar to his performance in the Fall California race, vaulting up to 7th on lap 9, 2nd by lap 30, and to the lead on lap 49. By then, the green-flag stops had begun, and a hiccup during the high-pressure stop dropped him a couple spots. By lap 197, he was back up to 4th, 3rd on lap 201, and 2nd with 98 to go. Under the third caution of the race with 94 to go, he successfully defended his 2nd place spot with a fast stop. #18-Ky. Busch then got by him for 2nd on the restart with 89 to go. When the race was restarted again with 83 to go following the fourth yellow, his car slipped back to 5th. He pitted for the final time with 15 to go. Led 5 laps.
11) #6-David Ragan Was running 8th on lap 197 and was in the top 10 for much of the mid-to-late stages. He pitted for the final time with 14 to go.
12) #8-Mark Martin Lost a lap then got it back as the Lucky Dog when #28-Kvapil’s spin brought out the fourth caution of the race with 88 to go. Finished as the last car on the lead lap.
13) #31-Jeff Burton** He had just lost his lap to leader #99-Edwards before the third caution fell for debris with 94 to go, giving him the Lucky Dog.
14) #5-Casey Mears Started 14th and was up to 12th by lap 173.
15) #48-Jimmie Johnson** Despite bringing his team’s go-to car which not only won from the pole at California, Kansas, and Indianapolis, but pulled off his amazing rally at Atlanta the previous week, he struggled with several handling problems that kept him back in the pack. After getting four fresh tires and a chassis adjustment under the first caution on lap 57, he was still mired back in 24th on lap 82. While running 29th on lap 95, he was lapped by #99-Edwards, reducing his point lead from 183 points to just 64. Frustrated as the #99 continued to lap cars, he was stuck as the 7th car one lap down in 20th spot when the third caution fell with 94 to go. He never got the Lucky Dog that night and, with 47 to go, was stuck in 17th as the 2nd car one lap down. He picked up a couple more spots before the finish, but his point lead still fell to 106 points.
16) #20-Tony Stewart** Was forced to a backup car after one of the final practice sessions when his right-rear tire exploded, tearing off all the sheetmetal from the rear-quarter of his car. He went a lap down early in the race, then got it back as the Lucky Dog when debris brought out the second caution on lap 144. His car was apparently suffering some handling problems as, with 77 to go, it walked up the racetrack in turn three.
17) #11-Denny Hamlin** Brought the same car he narrowly saved from wrecking on the final lap the previous week at Atlanta, but strangely never contended.
18) #83-Brian Vickers Forced to start at the back of the pack due to an engine change, he had raced his way up to 9th by lap 132. Under the second caution on lap 144, he came just a half-carlength short of beating #99-Edwards for the lead off pit road. Around lap 180, he lost a lot of the ground he’d gained in the pit road battle when he was forced to make an unscheduled stop due to what he thought was a right-rear tire going down. Led 5 laps.
19) #25-Brad Keselowski (R) Made his Sprint Cup debut in his first attempt at qualifying after the qualifying session was rained out at Charlotte the previous month. Despite bouncing off the outside wall in turn three on lap 4, getting loose up the track in turn three on lap 151, and getting knocked loose in the quad-oval by #28-Kvapil during the fourth caution of the race with 88 to go, he finished in the top 20 with his car practically intact. After his lap 4 incident, he lost a lap, then got it back as the Lucky Dog when #41-Sorenson brought out the first caution of the race on lap 57.
20) #88-Dale Earnhardt, Jr.** Raced up to 3rd in the first 9 laps, then got up to 2nd on lap 15. On lap 53, he had a slow stop during the first round of green-flag stops, then was saved by the first caution on lap 57 as he was concerned that he had a loose wheel. Running is traditional high line, he made slight contact with the outside wall sometime after the second caution on lap 144 and, during green-flag stops on lap 204, had to have his right-front fender pulled out by his crew. He decided to join #24-J. Gordon in staying out the final 69 laps, but, while running 2nd with 6 to go, he ran out on the backstretch and coasted to pit road. He lost more ground when his car stalled leaving its pit stall. Led 1 lap.
21) #47-Marcos Ambrose (R) Suffered damage to the right-front of his Toyota in the fourth caution of the race with 88 to go. Seeing #28-Kvapil spin out several carlengths in front of him, he tried to slow down and squeeze by against the outside wall, but couldn’t avoid tagging the #28 in the left-rear, crunching his left-front fender. Still, his team closed from 80 to 44 points on #84-Speed, still 35th in owner’s points.
22) #15-Paul Menard NO NOTES
23) #77-Sam Hornish, Jr. (R) The top-finishing rookie for the series-leading twelfth time in 2008 ahead of #01-Smith with nine, #10-Carpentier with seven, and #00-McDowell with six. #25-Keselowski and #47-Ambrose finished ahead of him, but were not contending for 2008 rookie honors.
24) #9-Kasey Kahne After being lapped during one of the race’s early green-flag runs, he was the first car on the inside line with 89 to go when the race restarted following the third caution of the race. He over-anticipated the restart and accelerated too early, opening up a huge lead on the rest of the pack by the time the fourth caution fell the next lap. NASCAR held him a lap as a penalty under that fourth caution.
25) #66-Scott Riggs Qualified a very-impressive 10th.
26) #10-A.J. Allmendinger Despite being the 2nd fastest car in practice, he struggled in qualifying and wound up starting back in 36th. With 88 laps to go, he made a daring move to the inside of #19-E. Sadler, #28-Kvapil, and #25-Keselowski entering the quad-oval. The move forced #19-E. Sadler to knock #28-Kvapil into the spin that brought out the fourth caution of the race. With 19 to go and the rest of the field pitting, he was penalized for hitting the commitment cone as he entered pit road.
27) #55-Michael Waltrip NO NOTES
28) #12-Ryan Newman NO NOTES
29) #22-Dave Blaney Turned out to be the team's final race with sponsorship from Caterpillar, the #22's longtime sponsor since the start of the 2000 season.
30) #96-Ken Schrader NO NOTES
31) #21-Bill Elliott NO NOTES
32) #28-Travis Kvapil Was involved in the fourth caution of the race with 88 to go when, while running between #25-Keselowski up high and #19-E. Sadler down low, #10-Allmendinger moved under the #19, causing #19-E. Sadler to bump into his car. As he started to spin, he bumped into #25-Keselowski, who barely kept control. Now perpendicular with the wall, his car was then bumped in the rear by #47-Ambrose, sending his car spinning into the grass.
33) #84-Scott Speed (R) NO NOTES
34) #01-Regan Smith (R) NO NOTES
35) #19-Elliott Sadler Was involved in the fourth caution of the race with 88 to go when #10-Allmendinger dove under him entering the quad-oval, forcing him up into #28-Kvapil, who spun off his nose. Was also the first car to take a qualifying lap since Talladega.
36) #7-Robby Gordon His crew was able to make repairs after he scraped the wall off turn two during practice, but a later accident forced him to start in a white-and-yellow backup car. This car, too, was ill-fated, as on lap 100 he got very loose in turn two and crumpled the right-rear of his Dodge. The incident did not bring out a caution and he lost more ground. Despite the misfortunes, the damage to his owner points ranking was minimal as he remains in 34th, though now only 16 ahead of #84-Speed, down from 25 points.
37) #41-Reed Sorenson Just after serving a penalty for an uncontrolled tire, he brought out the first caution on lap 57 when his car started pouring smoke in turn two from a sudden oil leak. Repairs cost him a few laps before he returned to the track. The misfortune marred what had started as a good weekend after he qualified in 9th.
38) #78-Joe Nemechek NO NOTES
39) #43-Bobby Labonte NO NOTES
40) #02-Joey Logano (R) He barely squeezed into the field for his 3rd start of the season to debut the #02 team, but still never quite got up to speed after being lapped on lap 29.
41) #2-Kurt Busch Though he was running the very same car that gave him a much-needed 3rd place finish at Charlotte the previous month, he only qualified 40th and suffered from poor handling through the entire race. The bad day turned worse as, during the fifth caution with 71 to go, his car was behind the wall as his engine had dropped two cylinders. He returned to the track laps down to the field with 53 to go, then went to the garage again a couple laps later.
42) #38-David Gilliland Brought out the fifth and most controversial caution of the race with 71 to go. Around ap 72, he had slid up the track in turn two and squeezed the top 10 car of #42-Montoya into the outside wall. After the two made contact again, he responded the following lap by turning hard left and spinning #42-Montoya into the outside wall. His car spun as well and backed into the outside wall. Originally, NASCAR was going to penalize him 5 laps for the incident, but when the #42 was unable to return to the track, his car was parked as well.
43) #42-Juan Pablo Montoya Determined to shake off the disappointment of his bad luck the previous week at Atlanta, he brought a brand-new car to Texas and, once again, shot up toward the front. After starting 26th, he ran the high groove and was up to 11th on lap 20, then 7th on lap 47. Unfortunately, while still running in the top 10 with 72 to go, his bad luck returned yet again. On that lap, the lapped machine of #38-Gilliland slid up the track in turn two and put him in the outside wall. He responded by bumping he #38. Then, with 71 to go, the #38 suddenly cut down on the backstretch, hooked his right-rear, and turned him nearly head-on into the outside wall. #38-Gilliland wrecked as well as a result. The wreck brought out the fifth and final caution of the race and, as he tried to return to pit road, his car stopped near the entrance to the garage area.


DID NOT QUALIFY:
#13-Max Papis (R)
#40-Bryan Clauson (R)
#45-Chad McCumbee (R)
#70-Tony Raines
#08-Johnny Sauter

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