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May-04-2008 06:57

Bowyer Wins After Earnhardt Jr - Kyle Busch Tangle

Kyle Busch finished an embattled second after he and Mark Martin raced side-by-side for second place on the last lap.

Clint Bowyer
Clint Bowyer won at Richmond International Raceway after a dominant Denny Hamlin suffered a flat tire with 18 laps to go.

RICHMOND, Va. - Clint Bowyer won the sold out Crown Royal Presents The Dan Lowry 400 at Richmond International Raceway after a dominant Denny Hamlin suffered a flat tire with 18 laps to go. Chesterfield, Virginia’s Hamlin had lead 381 of 382 laps up to that point.

Following Hamlin’s demise, Dale Earnhardt Jr and Kyle Busch battled for the lead, with Earnhardt ending up in the wall. Bowyer was able to slip by Busch who was struggling to maintain traction following the incident.

Kyle Busch finished an embattled second after he and Mark Martin raced side-by-side for second place on the last lap. Busch said, “It was a good night for us. We struggled with handling but had a good strong car. I tried to get a little something extra out of the car once Denny was out. Everybody out there is afraid of wrecking Dale Earnhardt Jr. I hated that it happened. We just didn’t give each other enough room in turn three and we wrecked. Clint drove a great last 3 laps for the win.”

A clearly disappointed Dale Earnhardt Jr., commented, “He got loose under me. It’s happened to me before. The worst thing about it is that I was going for the win, had a top three car and got wrecked. I was going for the win and got nothing.”

Winner Bowyer set a new track record for making the biggest improvement in starting position by a winner after starting 31st. After the race, Bowyer talked about the Earnhardt/Busch incident and his victory: “They were just racing so hard. You know it was bound to happen. Richard was on the radio saying ‘It’s going to happen’ and it did happen. They were putting on a show for a while. That’s what racing is all about at Richmond. It was meant to be I guess. I just took advantage of their misfortune there. I’m so happy for the guys at BB&T and my guys who just worked their butts off on this racecar. She was fast all night long. I messed up in qualifying for these guys starting in the back. I was able to bounce back. It feels really good. The fastest car doesn’t always win and that was the case tonight.”

Winning owner Richard Childress said, “I’ve always said that luck is when preparation meets opportunity and Clint was prepared to take advantage of the situation. Clint just drove his butt off tonight. I’m really proud of him.”

Bowyer drove his Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet to victory lane for the second time in his career. His margin of victory was 0.373 seconds over Busch and 0.481 sec. over Martin. Rounding out the top ten finishers were Tony Stewart, Martin Truex Jr., Kevin Harvick, Ryan Newman (#12 alltel Dodge), Carl Edwards, Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon.

Fresh off his victory in the NASCAR Nationwide Series Lipton Tea 250 on Friday night, Denny Hamlin (#11 FedEx Toyota) showed the way from his Pole Position. With the opening laps running caution-free, Hamlin, a Chesterfield, Virginia native, led the opening 381 of 382 laps comfortably. Fourth starting Patrick Carpentier (#10 LifeLock Dodge) had a harder time, dropping back to 17th place after the first 25 laps. Hamlin began lapping cars on lap 30. None other than Jeff Gordon (#24 DuPont Chevrolet) was lapped on lap 44.

The evening’s first caution flew on lap 65 when Johnny Sauter (#70 Haas Automotive Chevrolet) hit the wall in turn 3 after a tire started going down. All the front runners headed for pit lane for tires and fuel on lap 66. Hamlin’s crew would make quick work of the pit stop to get their driver back on track in the lead. Rounding out the top 5 were Mark Martin (#8 U.S. Army Chevrolet), Martin Truex (#1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet), Kyle Busch (#18 Pedigree Toyota) and Emporia, Virginia’s Elliot Sadler (#19 Stanley Dodge).

Caution number two came out on lap 127 for debris on the back straight. Again, all the front runners headed for pit road. Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing Team got their man out in first place. When the green flag waved on lap 133, the drivers began getting a little racier. Brian Vickers was one victim of some of the close racing that ensued.

Lap 140 saw the next caution as Juan Pablo Montoya (#42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge) spun and hit the wall in turn two. As Tony Stewart entered his pit box, he hit his jackman who had to jump on the hood of Stewart’s machine. To add to the drama of the pit stop, Stewart hit the back of Kasey Kahne’s Budweiser Chevrolet while exiting his pit box.

One driver on the move was Jeff Gordon who had moved up to 15th, on the lead lap, after running a lap down in 39th place early in the race.

As the race went back to green, Hamlin again asserted his dominance over the field, pulling out a 5 second lead by lap 200. At the half way point, the top 10 drivers were

AJ Allmendinger (#84 Red Bull Toyota) spun coming out of turn 2 on lap 204, just in front of leader Hamlin. Hamlin nearly came to a complete stop as the entire track was blocked by thick, white smoke. David Guilliland (#38 Ford) sustained minor damage in the altercation. Denny Hamlin did not lose his lead during the pit stops.

Guilliland would be the cause of the next caution on lap 219. Coming out of turn two, he was on the inside as Paul Menard (#15 Menards/Moen Chevrolet) and Brian Vickers (#83 Red Bull Toyota) tried to pass on the outside. Not knowing that there were two cars next to him, Guilliland moved up the race track, squeezing the other two competitors into the wall at the end of the backstraight.

Hamlin would face real pressure for the first time in the race beginning with the restart on lap 226. Kyle Busch and Mark Martin were all over the back of the FedEx Toyota. They would not get a chance to make a move on the leader because of a huge wreck on the back straight.

“The Big One” happened on lap 230. NASCAR officials red flagged the race after a wreck, which started off of turn two, blocked the track in turn 3. All told, 11 cars would be involved. It all started when Dave Blaney (#22 Caterpillar Toyota) squeezed J.J. Yeley (#96 DLP HDTV Toyota) up into the path of Carl Edwards (#99 Office Depot Ford). Just behind them, Patrick Carpentier checked up and was spun out by David Guilliland. Carpentier’s Dodge bounced off the inside wall and back into oncoming traffic. Then he became a pin ball, bouncing off car after car, taking 6 solid hits. With the track blocked, cars just smashed in like a pile-up on a foggy interstate. When the smoke cleared, there was damage to the machines of Michael McDowell (#00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota), Regan Smith (#01 Steak-umm Burgers Chevrolet), Kurt Busch (#2 Miller Lite Dodge), Carpentier, Matt Kenseth (#17 DeWalt NANO Ford), Jeff Burton (#31 AT&T Mobility Chevrolet), Guilliland, Juan Pablo Montoya (#42 Texaco/Havoline Dodge), Jimmie Johnson (#48 Lowe’s Chevrolet), Johnny Sauter, and Yeley. Thanks to the safety features of NASCAR’s racers, including carbon fiber seats, none of the drivers was hurt.

The cars were parked on the back straight for 21 minutes and 47 seconds waiting for the safety crews to clear all the wreckage and clean up the leaked fluids. The green waved on lap 237, with 19 cars on the lead lap. As he had all night (except for one lap [AJ Almendinger] under caution on a pit stop) Hamlin led the way.

AJ Allmendinger and Michael McDowell mixed it up in turn 3 on lap 260, bringing out another caution. Again, the leaders went to pit road. Hamlin kept his lead ahead of Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr (#88 National Guard/Amp Energy Chevrolet) and Mark Martin. Lurking in 5th place was Jeff Gordon.

At lap 301, Denny Hamlin had led 300 of them. He was followed by Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mark Martin, Clint Bowyer (#07 BB&T Chevrolet) Martin Truex Jr., Tony Stewart (#20 Home Depot Toyota), Kevin Harvick (#29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet), Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne.

Just as the teams were beginning to prepare for green-flag pit stops, Casey Mears (#5 Kellogg’s CARQUEST Chevrolet) ran up into Michael Waltrip (#55 NAPA Toyota) entering turn one on lap 356. As the cars went down the back straight, Waltrip pushed into Mears car, forcing NASCAR officials to bench Waltrip for the rest of the race. The leaders headed for the pits for the last fuel stop of the evening.

One lap after taking the green, Jamie McMurray (#26 Crown Royal Ford) was spun out in turn three. Dale Earnhardt, Jr was just in the process of passing Kyle Busch, but had to drop back because of the caution.

There were 30 laps to go when the green waved again. It only took one lap for Earnhardt to pass Busch. But Busch did not give up, fighting back valiantly. This helped Hamlin pull out to a 0.8 second lead over Earnhardt Jr. with 25 laps to go.

Hamlin would suffer heartbreak when a tire began going down with 22 laps to go. Earnhardt Jr. and Busch pulled right up to the rear bumper of Hamlin who was able to hold them up until lap 382. In a spectacular move, Earnhardt Jr went high, Busch went low, and the two passed Hamlin on the front straight. Dale Jr was able to pull out a half second lead over Busch before Hamlin’s tire blew while he was running in 10th place. As the caution waved, Hamlin stopped on the track. NASCAR would penalize Hamlin two laps for this indiscretion.

Denny Hamlin led 381 laps, a new record for the most laps led by a non-winner (old record: 348 laps by Darrell Waltrip in 1984)

The decisive green flag waved with 5 laps to go. As Earnhardt ran the high line and Busch the low line, Kyle nudged Dale into a spin with two laps to go. The two cars went deep into turn 3, so deep that Busch’s car got loose. As Busch corrected to avoid his spin, his car washed up into Earnhardt Jr. who was not giving Busch any extra room. This would prove to be a very unpopular move with the fans! While these shenanigans were going on, Clint Bowyer slipped under the two combatants to take the lead.

A “Green-White-Checker” flew on lap 408. Bowyer pulled ahead for the win as Mark Martin was able to battle side-by-side with Kyle Busch for second place. In the end, Busch was able to hold on to second by 0.108 seconds.

marcdiecast May 4, 2008 6:18 pm

whaaaaaaaa, whhhhaaaaaaa God I love Silverspoon fans! They are fitting in well at Hendricks!

douglaskeller May 4, 2008 4:39 pm

hamlim should have pulled off the track knowing his tire was going flat endangering other drivers, i think he should be fine d with the loss of points for what he did giving his team mate time to catch jr.

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