Home » FEATURE STORY, NASCAR - Sprint Cup Series

Bowyer Wins Race; Gordon In Chase, Busch Not

Deb Williams | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, September 9 2012

Hendrick Motorsports drivers Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne won the Chase wild-card berths at Richmond on Sunday morning. (Photo courtesy of NASCAR)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

RICHMOND, Va. – Jeff Gordon never knew where Kyle Busch was in the running order throughout Saturday’s rain-plagued Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International; crew chief Alan Gustafson simply told him who he needed to pass.

With 10 laps to go Gustafson became animated on the radio, emphasizing to Gordon he had to get the (No.) 55 [Mark Martin], which was second. It was Gordon’s key pass and it came with less than five laps remaining in the 400-lap event. Gordon’s runner-up finish allowed him to place 15 positions ahead of Busch in 16th and earn the final wild card spot in the Chase by a mere three points.

“I felt like I won the race tonight,” a happy Gordon said. “When that was over, they told me I was in the Chase, we made it, I mean, I was ecstatic. I was going nuts.”

Gordon’s performance meant all four Hendrick Motorsports teams will contend for the championship; a pre-season prediction made by owner Rick Hendrick. When the championship battle begins next weekend at Chicagoland Speedway, Jimmie Johnson will be seeded second, Dale Earnhardt Jr. seventh, Kasey Kahne 11th and Gordon 12th.

However, at the beginning of the rain-delayed race, it appeared Gordon wouldn’t be a championship contender this season. By lap 60 he had fallen to 20th. When the race was halted for rain on lap 152 he was a lap down and extremely frustrated.

“I was pretty ticked off that we got that far behind,” Gordon said. “I went to Alan. He never wavered. He was

Clint Bowyer got the victory at Richmond. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

confident. They were looking at the data from what we had, to our teammates, even Tony [Stewart]. We had just done the rear bar. We just had to get rid of it. We cut the chain. Our car really started coming to us right then. We finally got some drive-off.”

After a 51-minute 45-second rain delay, the race restarted and Gustafson was confident the change would help Gordon’s ailing car. When the sixth and final caution flag waved on lap 277 for rain, Gordon regained his lost lap. It was then that he began his charge towards the front. By lap 300 he was 10th, but Gordon and Busch continued to exchange ownership of the wild card position.

On lap 325, eventual winner Clint Bowyer lapped Busch. However, even then he and Gordon were within 10 positions of each other. The tide finally turned in Gordon’s direction when Busch pitted for four tires and a chassis adjustment. A lug nut was left off the right rear and Busch dropped two laps off the pace to 25th.

Gustafson then made the decision to short pit Gordon and get him out ahead of Stewart. With 25 laps remaining, Gordon was sixth and he spent the rest of the time headed to the front. When the race ended, Busch and his Joe Gibbs Racing team were devastated.

“We missed it,” Busch said solemnly. “That’s it. Plain and simple.”

Team owner Joe Gibbs leaned into Busch’s car after the race and Busch said he told him to “handle it the right way.”

“There’s no right way to handle this situation,” Busch said, then turned around and walked off.

Crew chief Dave Rogers said he and Busch were both speechless after the race.

“We went up there and looked at each other and nodded at each other and just acknowledged that we’ll talk later,” Rogers said. “Both of us are hurting, but we didn’t say much. Kyle did a good job of keeping his composure and took it on the chin like a man and went back to his bus.”

Rogers said Gibbs gave him “words of encouragement and left it at that.”

Even though JGR driver Denny Hamlin is the No. 1 seed in the Chase, the fact Busch will miss the championship run resulted in Gibbs describing the night as really disappointing.

“It’s one of those things where it’s kind of like you can have the agony and defeat,” Gibbs said. “That’s kind of what happened to us tonight.”

For Gordon, though, making the Chase provided him with the thrill of victory.

“It was amazing,” Gordon said. “I still can’t believe we actually did it. I know how proud Rick is to have all four teams into this Chase. That was a big goal of ours. Pretty amazing to know we accomplished that.”

– Deb Williams can be reached at dwilliams@racintoday.com

RACE RESULTS

1. (4) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 400, $226,114.

2. (2) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 400, $203,546.

3. (6) Mark Martin, Toyota, 400, $128,785.

4. (28) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 400, $174,685.

5. (17) Matt Kenseth, Ford, 400, $152,221.

6. (20) Jeff Burton, Chevrolet, 400, $135,335.

7. (10) Brad Keselowski, Dodge, 400, $125,530.

8. (14) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 400, $126,218.

9. (23) Greg Biffle, Ford, 400, $93,885.

10. (13) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 400, $135,096.

11. (11) Sam Hornish Jr., Dodge, 400, $122,210.

12. (21) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 399, $89,035.

13. (5) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 399, $122,296.

14. (1) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 399, $92,435.

15. (22) Marcos Ambrose, Ford, 399, $106,593.

16. (15) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 399, $120,118.

17. (16) Carl Edwards, Ford, 399, $119,301.

18. (7) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 399, $122,951.

19. (12) Landon Cassill, Toyota, 399, $102,880.

20. (24) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet, 399, $107,476.

21. (9) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 399, $103,174.

22. (26) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 398, $106,693.

23. (25) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 398, $83,385.

24. (3) Regan Smith, Chevrolet, 398, $101,293.

25. (29) Bobby Labonte, Toyota, 397, $99,568.

26. (18) Aric Almirola, Ford, 397, $111,571.

27. (32) Travis Kvapil, Toyota, 397, $96,568.

28. (30) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 396, $93,843.

29. (42) Casey Mears, Ford, 396, $83,507.

30. (8) Joey Logano, Toyota, 396, $83,335.

31. (35) David Gilliland, Ford, 395, $73,210.

32. (27) David Ragan, Ford, 395, $70,560.

33. (33) Dave Blaney, Chevrolet, 395, $70,435.

34. (37) David Reutimann, Chevrolet, 393, $70,310.

35. (39) Ken Schrader, Ford, 393, $78,160.

36. (36) Stephen Leicht, Chevrolet, 390, $79,510.

37. (31) David Stremme, Chevrolet, Brakes, 127, $69,880.

38. (34) Joe Nemechek, Toyota, Brakes, 90, $69,728.

39. (38) Scott Riggs, Chevrolet, Brakes, 78, $66,900.

40. (40) Mike Bliss, Toyota, Wheel Bearing, 70, $66,775.

41. (19) Michael McDowell, Ford, Brakes, 63, $66,625.

42. (41) Josh Wise, Ford, Brakes, 57, $66,500.

43. (43) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, Power Steering, 57, $66,860.

RACE STATISTICS

Average Speed of Race Winner: 100.019 mph.

Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 59 Mins, 58 Secs.

Margin of Victory: 1.198 Seconds.

Caution Flags: 6 for 41 laps.

Lead Changes: 17 among 10 drivers.

Lap Leaders: D. Earnhardt Jr. 1-6; J. Gordon 7-8; D. Earnhardt Jr. 9-47; M. McDowell 48; D. Earnhardt Jr. 49-58; D. Hamlin 59-84; D. Earnhardt Jr. 85-93; D. Hamlin 94-155; D. Earnhardt Jr. 156-158; D. Hamlin 159-231; J. Johnson 232-233; D. Hamlin 234-241; M. Truex Jr. 242-248; D. Hamlin 249-281; K. Kahne 282-284; T. Stewart 285-299; R. Newman 300-312; C. Bowyer 313-400.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): D. Hamlin 5 times for 202 laps; C. Bowyer 1 time for 88 laps; D. Earnhardt Jr. 5 times for 67 laps; T. Stewart 1 time for 15 laps; R. Newman 1 time for 13 laps; M. Truex Jr. 1 time for 7 laps; K. Kahne 1 time for 3 laps; J. Johnson 1 time for 2 laps; J. Gordon 1 time for 2 laps; M. McDowell 1 time for 1 lap.

Top 12 in Points: G. Biffle – 914; D. Earnhardt Jr. – 902; M. Kenseth – 897; J. Johnson – 880; B. Keselowski – 868; M. Truex Jr. – 862; C. Bowyer – 858; D. Hamlin – 850; K. Harvick – 841; T. Stewart – 810; K. Kahne – 784; J. Gordon – 777.

Deb Williams | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, September 9 2012
No Comment

Comments are closed.