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Stewart runs dry and Bowyer wins in New Hampshire

NASCAR Sprint Cup Race
Sunday, September 19, 2010

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Clint Bowyer celebrates second career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory
Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR
The picture told the story.

Clint Bowyer’s No. 33 Chevrolet spun in a cloud of smoke as Bowyer celebrated Sunday’s victory in the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

In the same frame, Tony Stewart’s No. 14 Chevy coasted slowly across the finish line, out of fuel and out of the running for a race win that had seemed a distinct possibility barely more than a lap earlier.

Bowyer, the last driver to qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, and Stewart both gambled on fuel after pitting for the last time on Lap 208 of 300 at the 1.058-mile racetrack.

Bowyer won, beating resilient Denny Hamlin to the finish line by .477 seconds and surging into second place in the Chase standings after the first of 10 races. Hamlin leads Bowyer by 35 points as the Sprint Cup Series heads to Dover.

Stewart lost, running out of fuel off Turn 4 while leading with the white flag—signaling one lap left—clearly in his sights.

“Just ran out,” was Stewart’s immediate, terse reaction to his fuel crisis, but it spoke volumes. The two-time series champion left Loudon in 11th place, 124 points behind Hamlin.

Bowyer was still in fuel-saving mode with Hamlin running him down on the final lap, but he mashed the pedal out of Turn 4.

“Wide open, stay in it—come on!” spotter Mike Dillon radioed to Bowyer as he rounded the final corner, almost as if he were driving a thoroughbred down the stretch.

Jamie McMurray finished third, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. fourth. Kevin Harvick, who led the standings after the first 26 races, ran fifth despite fighting handling problems throughout the race and is third in the standings, 45 points out of the lead. Jeff Gordon, David Reutimann, Ryan Newman, Kyle Busch and Sam Hornish Jr. rounded out the top 10.

Bowyer approached the first Chase race with optimism, his 2007 maiden victory at New Hampshire still fresh in his mind.

“I just had a feeling—this race just felt like (it did) back in 2007, and we did it again,” said Bowyer, who broke an 88-race winless drought with the third victory of his career.

The win didn’t come, however, until Stewart ran out of gas.

“I thought I could run (Stewart) down, but I was using so much fuel through the middle of the corner that I just had to back down,” Bowyer said. “I could tell in (crew chief Shane Wilson’s) voice—once you get that relationship with somebody, you can tell in his voice how nervous he was, and he sounded pretty nervous.”

Bowyer finally ran out of fuel during his burnout, and a wrecker pushed the winning car to Victory Lane. Stewart finished 24th on a day that saw Jimmie Johnson’s quest for a fifth straight championship slowed by a loose wheel late in the race. Johnson finished one position behind Stewart.

Hamlin, the top seed entering the Chase, survived a spin in Turn 4 that dropped him temporarily from third to 22nd. On Lap 214, as Hamlin was rolling through the corner, Carl Edwards’ No. 99 Ford slid up the track into Hamlin’s car and caused the spin.

“Can’t hold his line, can he?” Hamlin said sardonically, before Edwards’ spotter relayed a message of apology from his driver to Hamlin.

“I got mad on the radio for like 10 seconds, and it was like, ‘All right, what do we got to do; just tell me what we’ve got to do to get back up there,' ” Hamlin said after the spin that forced him to pit road and eliminated potential fuel-mileage issues for the No. 11 Toyota.

“Normally, I think years ago, I really would have kind of flipped out, but I think now it’s just a little bit more relaxed.”

Results

FIN ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 2 33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Cheerios / Hamburger Helper 195/10 300 Running
2 22 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Small Business 170/0 300 Running
3 4 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet McDonald's 170/5 300 Running
4 32 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Amp Energy / National Guard 160/0 300 Running
5 27 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 155/0 300 Running
6 17 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet National Guard Facebook / DuPont 155/5 300 Running
7 7 00 David Reutimann Toyota Tums 146/0 300 Running
8 24 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet U.S. Army 142/0 300 Running
9 9 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's 138/0 300 Running
10 15 77 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge Mobil 1 134/0 300 Running
11 10 99 Carl Edwards Ford Aflac 135/5 300 Running
12 6 43 A.J. Allmendinger Ford Insignia HDTV / Best Buy 127/0 300 Running
13 12 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 124/0 300 Running
14 21 9 Kasey Kahne Ford Budweiser 121/0 300 Running
15 13 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 118/0 300 Running
16 5 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Energizer 115/0 300 Running
17 14 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M 112/0 300 Running
18 1 12 Brad Keselowski Dodge Penske / AAA 114/5 300 Running
19 20 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row Companies 106/0 300 Running
20 16 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 103/0 300 Running
21 19 19 Elliott Sadler Ford U.S. Air Force 100/0 300 Running
22 11 6 David Ragan Ford UPS 97/0 300 Running
23 33 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Crown Royal 94/0 300 Running
24 3 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Office Depot / Old Spice 96/5 300 Running
25 25 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's / Johns Manville 88/0 300 Running
26 29 7 Robby Gordon Toyota SpeedFactory.tv 90/5 300 Running
27 37 83 Reed Sorenson Toyota Red Bull 82/0 300 Running
28 8 98 Paul Menard Ford Sylvania / Menards 79/0 300 Running
29 26 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet GoDaddy.com 76/0 298 Running
30 23 47 Marcos Ambrose Toyota Kingsford / Bush's Beans 73/0 298 Running
31 30 36 Dave Blaney Chevrolet Mohawk Northeast 70/0 297 Running
32 40 38 Travis Kvapil Ford Long John Silver's 67/0 295 Running
33 39 37 David Gilliland Ford Taco Bell 64/0 295 Running
34 41 34 Tony Raines Ford A&W All American Food 61/0 295 Running
35 31 20 Joey Logano Toyota The Home Depot 58/0 256 In Pit
36 28 82 Scott Speed Toyota Red Bull 55/0 213 Running
37 42 71 Andy Lally Chevrolet TRG Motorsports 52/0 138 In Pit
38 18 13 Casey Mears Toyota GEICO 49/0 93 In Pit
39 43 09 Bobby Labonte Chevrolet Phoenix Construction 46/0 89 Out of Race
40 35 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota FrontRowJoe.com 48/5 60 In Pit
41 36 55 Mike Bliss Toyota Prism Motorsports 40/0 55 In Pit
42 34 164 Landon Cassill Toyota Gunselman Motorsports 37/0 40 In Pit
43 38 46 Michael McDowell Dodge Whitney Motorsports 34/0 29 Out of Race

* Denotes Rookie

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