Carnage-Filled Race Leaves the Closer in Victory Lane

Photo- Getty Images
Photo- Getty Images

The whole race changed after the eleventh and final caution came out in Saturday Night’s Toyota Owners 400. Most of the drivers pitted while a few stayed out. When the green flag fell for the restart, craziness ensued. Kevin Harvick came out of nowhere to take the lead with two laps to go. That pass for the lead left him in victory lane after a race that could have had at least ten different winners. The “Closer” did it again by doing what he does best and taking the victory after taking the lead late in the race. Carnage was the name of the game leading up to the final restart, but that wild ending will forever be the legacy this races leaves behind.

For the first time in three races, the pole sitter didn’t win the race. Matt Kenseth sure would have loved to continue that streak and for the beginning of the night, it looked like it was possible. After a lap 109 caution for Marcos Ambrose, Clint Bowyer got off pit road first to take the lead from Kenseth.

Trouble occurred for the champion, Brad Keselowski, on lap 158 when he hit the turn 2 wall. He would later recover in the race, but he would again falter at the end. Kenseth regained the lead on lap 219, but on lap 254, the Richmond dominator, Kyle Busch, took his first lead of the night. The lead exchanged hands between the Busch brothers after the sixth yellow-flag of the night and now it was Kurt Busch parading the field.

Kyle Busch’s night took a sudden down-turn once the race entered the final 100-lap stage. First, Busch was originally tabbed with a commitment line penalty when he was pitting under the seventh caution. NASCAR would recall that penalty prior to the restart, but Busch’s night only got worse from there. The eight caution of night included Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, and Kyle Busch.

Stewart got loose going into turn 1 and he slid up the track into Johnson and the two of them spun out. When Johnson spun down the track, Busch slid into him causing heavy front-end damage for Busch. After repairs, Busch was sent back out on the track, but his chances of winning were officially gone.

Following the wreck, a new leader emerged and it was Juan Pablo Montoya. A few laps following the restart, another wreck occurred. This time it involved Kasey Kahne, Mark Martin, and Brian Vickers. Martin came down on Kahne off of turn 2 after Kahne made a risky attempt to pass Martin. That led to contact between the two drivers and they both spun down the backstretch. Brian Vickers ran into the spinning Martin which caused even more damage to Martin’s car. Once the cars came to a rest, they both had a ton of damage.

Following the restart, a battle for second-place sprang up between Martin Truex Jr. and Kurt Busch. When the two were battling for the position heading into turn 3, Truex Jr. couldn’t clear Busch and Truex Jr. got tapped and spun around to bring out the tenth yellow-flag of the night.

Juan Pablo Montoya looked to have the race locked up as the leaders crossed the line with six laps to go. Harvick was going to run out of time and we would be discussing a snapped winless streak. That all changed when the caution flew for Brian Vickers who had gotten into the wall with six laps to go. The next shock after the shocking caution came when most of the leaders pitted. Montoya had seemingly given up the race when he turned down pit road.

Once the pit stops were complete, a new group of drivers were up front. On the restart it was Jeff Burton then Jamie McMurray, A.J Allmendinger, Carl Edwards, and Tony Stewart. Montoya and Harvick had slipped outside the top five in a race that looked like they would finish one-two in.

Out of all the drivers, we should have expected to see this driver climb back to the front after losing spots under the caution. Harvick managed to sneak his way up to second after a fanned-out restart left the drivers who didn’t pit struggling to stay up front. He then passed his teammate Jeff Burton for the lead with two laps to go and the “Closer” had done it again.

Harvick had taken advantage of this restart to get back to the front of the pack and close the race out by leading the final few laps and taking the checkered-flag. A shaky start to the season left Harvick’s critics asking whether or not he would be able to do anything this year since his scheduled move to SHR for next season basically left this season without any point for his team. With this win, Harvick silenced those critics and showed that he will still make the most out of this season. His nickname “the Closer” definitely applied to his late race move Saturday Night at Richmond and his ability to “close” out the race left him in victory lane.

A classic short-track feud sprang up after this race between Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart who exchanged words after Busch bumped Stewart out of the groove on the late restart. The argument likely will die down once Talladega arrives next weekend and if it doesn’t, something big could happen in Alabama. Superspeedway racing will be returning next Sunday when the Cup Series rolls into Talladega. Anything can happen at Talladega and just about everything will. If you thought that the races so far this season have been exciting, wait until Talladega where the term excitement is raised to a whole new level.

By Jason Schultz

Results via ESPN.com

POS DRIVER CAR MANUFACTURER

LAPS

MONEY

START

LED

PTS

BONUS

PENALTY

1 Kevin Harvick 29 Chevrolet

406

17

3

47

4

0

2 Clint Bowyer 15 Toyota

406

5

113

43

1

0

3 Joey Logano 22 Ford

406

7

0

41

0

0

4 Juan Pablo Montoya 42 Chevrolet

406

6

67

41

1

0

5 Jeff Burton 31 Chevrolet

406

16

7

40

1

0

6 Carl Edwards 99 Ford

406

28

0

38

0

0

7 Matt Kenseth 20 Toyota

406

1

140

39

2

0

8 Aric Almirola 43 Ford

406

34

0

36

0

0

9 Kurt Busch 78 Chevrolet

406

14

36

36

1

0

10 Dale Earnhardt Jr. 88 Chevrolet

406

19

0

34

0

0

11 Jeff Gordon 24 Chevrolet

406

3

0

33

0

0

12 Jimmie Johnson 48 Chevrolet

406

26

0

32

0

0

13 Paul Menard 27 Chevrolet

406

29

0

31

0

0

14 AJ Allmendinger 51 Chevrolet

406

24

0

30

0

0

15 Ryan Newman 39 Chevrolet

406

15

0

29

0

0

16 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 17 Ford

406

12

0

28

0

0

17 Martin Truex Jr. 56 Toyota

406

9

0

27

0

0

18 Tony Stewart 14 Chevrolet

406

21

0

26

0

0

19 Bobby Labonte 47 Toyota

406

32

0

25

0

0

20 David Ragan 34 Ford

406

20

0

24

0

0

21 Kasey Kahne 5 Chevrolet

406

4

0

23

0

0

22 David Reutimann 83 Toyota

406

22

0

22

0

0

23 Dave Blaney 7 Chevrolet

406

18

0

21

0

0

24 Kyle Busch 18 Toyota

406

8

40

21

1

0

25 Landon Cassill 33 Chevrolet

406

31

0

19

0

0

26 Jamie McMurray 1 Chevrolet

406

13

0

18

0

0

27 David Gilliland 38 Ford

405

37

0

17

0

0

28 Josh Wise 35 Ford

404

27

0

0

0

0

29 Danica Patrick 10 Chevrolet

402

30

0

15

0

0

30 Casey Mears 13 Ford

402

40

0

14

0

0

31 David Stremme 30 Toyota

402

25

0

13

0

0

32 J.J. Yeley 36 Chevrolet

401

39

0

12

0

0

33 Brad Keselowski 2 Ford

398

23

0

11

0

0

34 Timmy Hill 32 Ford

397

42

0

10

0

0

35 Brian Vickers 11 Toyota

392

2

0

0

0

0

36 Greg Biffle 16 Ford

391

33

0

8

0

0

37 Travis Kvapil 93 Toyota

368

36

0

7

0

0

38 Mark Martin 55 Toyota

349

10

0

6

0

0

39 Joe Nemechek 87 Toyota

245

41

0

0

0

0

40 Brian Keselowski 52 Toyota

186

43

0

4

0

0

41 Michael McDowell 98 Ford

121

35

0

3

0

0

42 Marcos Ambrose 9 Ford

109

11

0

2

0

0

43 Mike Bliss 19 Toyota

17

38

0

0

0

0

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