Saturday Night in Charlotte we potentially saw a fourth front runner for the championship emerge. Clint Bowyer. Bowyer didn’t lead at all until the final twenty-five laps and he saved enough fuel to lead every one of those final laps. Bowyer is pretty good at saving fuel because he has now won three races where he has had to save fuel at the end of the race. It seems as saving fuel comes naturally to Bowyer. That is a very important asset he has. With the win, Bowyer continues to creep up in the points standings and with another great run at his home track of Kansas, he could find himself in the championship hunt.The race began with three cautions in the first forty-one laps and then we saw two cautions in the remainder of the race. Greg Biffle started out on the pole and Biffle had a tough battle with Mark Martin in the beginning of the race but Biffle propelled ahead as the leader. The first caution of the night came out on lap eleven for Chaser Matt Kenseth who spun in turn four.
The next caution came soon after. Soon being before the cars got to turn one on the restart. On the restart there were cars going very slow in the front of the field and that created a chain reaction of cars backing into each other back in the pack. When cars started bumping into one another back in the pack, Marcos Ambrose couldn’t see the cars slowing ahead so he restarted normally then he got into the back of Jeff Burton and turned Burton. Burton then spun down and got into David Ragan, turning Ragan. Many cars needed to pit for repairs after the restart mealy including Chaser Tony Stewart.
The field had a great restart next time and began racing again. The next yellow-flag waved on lap 37 for the No.27 of Paul Menard. Menard got into the turn three wall hard and left debris scattered across the track. Marcos Ambrose didn’t pit under the caution and he took the lead on the restart. Just three laps later, Brad Keselowski took his first lead of the night.
Keselowski led up until lap 73 when he was passed by Jimmie Johnson. The first round of green flag pit stops began on lap 83. Denny Hamlin had a great stop and he gained the lead after the cars cycled through their stops. The next caution came out on lap 167 for debris. Lap 167 also happened to be the halfway mark of the race. Hamlin was the leader followed by Johnson, Keselowski, Kahne and Biffle. The leaders took the caution as an opportunity to come down the pit lane and Jimmie Johnson came off the pit lane first. The restart got a little wild when Greg Biffle went three wide into turn one to take the lead. Biffle had the lead for a few laps before he was passed by Brad Keselowski.
The fifth and final caution of the night came out on lap 224 for debris. The caution came out just as soon as a round of green flag pit stops concluded. During the stops, Chaser Jeff Gordon received a speeding penalty and went a lap down. This penalty cost Gordon a shot at a good finish and Gordon broke his streak of top three finishes. Another round of green flag stops began with 69 laps to go. This round of stops put drivers very close to making it on fuel, most drivers ended up needing another stop before the race concluded.
After the round of pit stops, Greg Biffle cycled through as the leader. With 26 laps to go, the drivers who were close on fuel started to pit. Leader Greg Biffle made his pit stop with 25 laps to go and he handed the lead over to Clint Bowyer. Bowyer was one of the later cars to pit on the previous pit cycle so he could stretch his fuel tank to the end. Bowyer was challenged on the last lap by Denny Hamlin but Hamlin couldn’t get to Bowyer. Bowyer then crossed the finish line first for the third time this season.
Bowyer continues to have a great year for Michael Waltrip Racing and a year of firsts continues for Bowyer. Bowyer got his first road course win earlier this season and Saturday night in Charlotte, Bowyer got his first intermediate track victory. Bowyer made it to victory lane without his car, which ran out of gas before Bowyer did a burnout. Bowyer said in victory lane that “I wanted to do a burnout.” Bowyer has yet to do a burnout after a win because he has won three fuel mileage races where he ran out of fuel after the race and therefore couldn’t do a burnout.
Brad Keselowski looked to have the dominant car of the day but he failed to find victory lane. If Keselowski won the race, it would have been his third in the Chase. Keselowski said after the race that he’s “Not going to win them all.” Denny Hamlin had a great night and he finished second. Hamlin said after the race that he is going to “Take second and move on.”
All the Chasers managed to finish in the top twenty but not even half of the Chasers finished in the top ten. Jimmie Johnson finished third, Biffle fourth, Kahne eighth, Truex Jr tenth, Keselowski eleventh, Stewart thirteenth, Kenseth fourteenth, Harvick sixteenth and Gordon eighteenth. The Chaser who had the worst day has to be Jeff Gordon. A speeding penalty in the race put him a lap down and he was never able to recover. Gordon came into Charlotte with three straight top three finishes but that streak ended Saturday Night. Gordon also fell from sixth to ninth in the points standings.
Brad Keselowski still leads the point’s standings by seven points over Jimmie Johnson. Hamlin remains in third, fifteen points behind Keselowski. With the win, Bowyer is now in fourth in the standings, twenty-eight points behind Keselowski.
Another fuel mileage race played out Saturday Night at the Charlotte Motor Speedway and once again, Bowyer won the fuel mileage race. Bowyer is sneaking up in the standings and with another win; Bowyer could be in contention for the championship.
The next round of the Chase takes place at the Kansas Speedway. Kansas Speedway’s newly re-paved surface creates an unknown factor heading into the race. Championship contenders will continue to fight for the championship next Sunday in Kansas.
Results via Nascar.com
|1||4||15||Clint Bowyer||Toyota||5-Hour Energy Benefiting Avon Foundation for Women||47/4||334||Running|
|2||9||11||Denny Hamlin||Toyota||FedEx Ground||43/1||334||Running|
|4||1||16||Greg Biffle||Ford||3M / IDG||41/1||334||Running|
|6||2||55||Mark Martin||Toyota||Aaron’s Dream Machine||39/1||334||Running|
|8||10||5||Kasey Kahne||Chevrolet||Time Warner Cable||36/0||334||Running|
|9||12||20||Joey Logano||Toyota||The Home Depot||35/0||334||Running|
|10||6||56||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||NAPA Auto Parts||34/0||334||Running|
|11||20||2||Brad Keselowski||Dodge||Miller Lite||35/2||334||Running|
|13||32||14||Tony Stewart||Chevrolet||Mobil 1 / Office Depot||31/0||334||Running|
|14||7||17||Matt Kenseth||Ford||Best Buy||30/0||334||Running|
|15||14||22||Sam Hornish Jr.||Dodge||Shell / Pennzoil||0||334||Running|
|16||11||29||Kevin Harvick||Chevrolet||Jimmy Johns||28/0||334||Running|
|18||13||24||Jeff Gordon||Chevrolet||Drive to End Hunger||27/1||332||Running|
|19||22||42||Juan Montoya||Chevrolet||Target / Kellogg’s||25/0||332||Running|
|20||3||39||Ryan Newman||Chevrolet||Quicken Loans||24/0||332||Running|
|21||21||78||Kurt Busch||Chevrolet||Furniture Row / Farm American||23/0||332||Running|
|22||16||21||Trevor Bayne||Ford||Good Sam Club / Camping World||0||332||Running|
|23||36||38||David Gilliland||Ford||Glory Foods||21/0||331||Running|
|24||38||51||AJ Allmendinger||Chevrolet||Phoenix Construction||20/0||330||Running|
|25||41||93||Travis Kvapil||Toyota||Burger King / Dr Pepper||19/0||330||Running|
|26||37||83||Landon Cassill||Toyota||Burger King / Dr Pepper||18/0||329||Running|
|27||24||27||Paul Menard||Chevrolet||Menards / Pittsburgh Paints||17/0||328||Running|
|30||34||10||David Reutimann||Chevrolet||Tommy Baldwin Racing||14/0||327||Running|
|31||33||98||Michael McDowell||Ford||K-Love / Curb Records||13/0||326||Running|
|32||15||47||Bobby Labonte||Toyota||Scott Products||12/0||324||Running|
|34||25||34||David Ragan||Ford||Glory Foods||10/0||287||Running|
|35||29||6||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||Ford||Best Buy||0||190||Engine|
|36||40||32||Timmy Hill||Ford||U.S. Chrome||0||182||Engine|
|37||31||30||David Stremme||Toyota||Inception Motorsports||7/0||62||Rear Gear|
|38||26||88||Regan Smith||Chevrolet||AMP Energy / National Guard||6/0||61||Engine|
|39||28||119||Mike Bliss||Toyota||Plinker Tactical||0||53||Rear Gear|
|40||23||195||Scott Speed||Ford||B&D Electrical||4/0||50||Vibration|
|41||43||191||Reed Sorenson||Toyota||Aquaria USA||0||32||Vibration|
|43||42||36||Dave Blaney||Chevrolet||Tommy Baldwin Racing||1/0||25||Transmission|