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Bowyer wins Richmond after Hamlin & Earnhardt falter

by Pete McCole
Sunday, May 04, 2008

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Clint Bowyer celebrates
CIA Stock Photo

Clint Bowyer found himself in the right place at the right time to notch his first victory of the season Saturday night, ducking underneath Kyle Busch and the spinning car of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. with two laps to go to win the Crown Royal 400 at Richmond International Raceway.

Bowyer lead the final three laps of the green-white-checker overtime session to beat out Busch and Mark Martin for his second career Sprint Cup victory.

“It’s awesome,” said Bowyer in Victory Lane. “I messed up in qualifying and let these guys down. but we dug deep, kept fighting, and look where we are.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s crew works on his car after a late race wreck
CIA Stock Photo
Bowyer was running third when Earnhardt, Jr. and Busch bounced off each other while battling for the lead with two laps go to. Earnhardt spun and backed into the wall while Busch managed to gather up his car in time to avoid hitting Earnhardt.

Earnhardt was looking to putting an end to his own 71-race winless streak, with his last win coming in this same race two years ago

After pitting to repair the damage, Earnhardt re-joined the field to finish 15th.

“He’s gonna need security from all of us,” said Earnhardt of Busch. “I haven’t seen the replays, but (crew chief Tony Eury, Jr.) said it looks like he got loose underneath us. It’s just disappointing because we’ve been running real good and were in a position to win.”

Busch managed to hold off Mark Martin in the final laps to finish second, brushing off the contact with Earnhardt as nothing more that a racing incident

“We were just racing hard there,” Busch said. “Junior and I were racing hard in turn three and I got loose. I was just a product of good, hard racing. I apologize to those guys.”

Tony Stewart finished fourth, followed by Martin Truex, Jr.

For much of the night, it looked as though Denny Hamlin would run away with the race, starting from the pole to lead the first 205 laps.

Coming off a win on Friday night’s Nationwide Series race, Hamlin ran flawlessly in Saturday’s event, looking for his first Sprint Cup victory at his home track.

Hamlin enjoyed a comfortable lead going into the final 20 laps before a cut tire dropped him into the clutches of Earnhardt and Busch, who split Hamlin in a thrilling three-wide pass with 17 laps to go that put Earnhardt, Jr. into the top spot.

Hamlin’s tire finally let go with nine laps to go, setting up a shootout between Earnhardt and Busch for the victory.

“Unbelievable,” said Hamlin following the race. “You can’t whine about it. It just wasn’t meant to be.”

It was another typical Saturday night short track race, and lots of teams had torn-up racecars to prove it.

By far the biggest wreck of the night occurred on lap 229, when J.J. Yeley clipped the front of Carl Edwards’ car, triggering a multi-car crash that collected Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch and series point leader Jeff Burton.

Burton’s DNF dropped him to second in points behind new leader Kyle Busch. Earnhardt, Jr. remains in third. Bowyer’s victory shot him up three spots to fourth position while Kevin Harvick retains fifth.

Post-race press conference transcript

Results

FIN

ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 31 07 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet BB&T 190/5 400 Running
2 7 18 Kyle Busch Toyota Pedigree 170/0 400 Running
3 2 8 Mark Martin Chevrolet U.S. Army 165/0 400 Running
4 15 20 Tony Stewart Toyota The Home Depot 160/0 400 Running
5 3 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker 155/0 400 Running
6 11 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 150/0 400 Running
7 10 12 Ryan Newman Dodge Alltel 146/0 400 Running
8 19 99 Carl Edwards Ford Office Depot 142/0 400 Running
9 28 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 138/0 400 Running
10 5 41 Reed Sorenson Dodge Target 134/0 400 Running
11 9 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Budweiser 130/0 400 Running
12 33 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet AT&T Mobility 127/0 400 Running
13 39 43 Bobby Labonte Dodge Speed Racer / Cheerios 124/0 400 Running
14 34 28 Travis Kvapil Ford Discount Tire 121/0 400 Running
15 23 16 Greg Biffle Ford DISH Network / DishDVRs 118/0 400 Running
16 22 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet National Guard / AMP Energy 120/5 400 Running
17 13 6 David Ragan Ford AAA Insurance 112/0 400 Running
18 8 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge Stanley Tools 109/0 398 Running
19 17 22 Dave Blaney Toyota Caterpillar 106/0 398 Running
20 30 66 Scott Riggs Chevrolet Haas Automation 103/0 398 Running
21 26 01 Regan Smith * Chevrolet Steak-umm Burgers 100/0 398 Running
22 14 44 David Reutimann Toyota UPS 97/0 397 Running
23 35 77 Sam Hornish Jr. * Dodge Mobil 1 94/0 397 Running
24 41 109 Sterling Marlin Chevrolet Miccosukee Resort & Gaming 91/0 397 Running
25 1 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Express 98/10 397 Running
26 38 7 Robby Gordon Dodge Charter Comm. 85/0 396 Running
27 32 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 82/0 396 Running
28 42 45 Kyle Petty Dodge Paralyzed Veterans of America 79/0 396 Running
29 36 78 Joe Nemechek Chevrolet Furniture Row/ DenverMattress.com 76/0 396 Running
30 12 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 73/0 390 Running
31 25 15 Paul Menard Chevrolet Moen / Menards 70/0 387 Running
32 6 42 Juan Montoya Dodge Texaco / Havoline 67/0 379 Running
33 20 26 Jamie McMurray Ford Crown Royal 64/0 365 In Pit
34 37 70 Johnny Sauter Chevrolet Haas Automation 61/0 364 Running
35 16 5 Casey Mears Chevrolet Kellogg's / CARQUEST 58/0 355 Running
36 43 96 J.J. Yeley Toyota DLP HDTV 55/0 355 Running
37 27 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA AUTO PARTS 52/0 353 In Pit
38 24 17 Matt Kenseth Ford DEWALT NANO Technology 49/0 337 Running
39 18 84 A.J. Allmendinger Toyota Red Bull 51/5 260 In Pit
40 29 00 Michael McDowell * Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 43/0 259 In Pit
41 40 38 David Gilliland Ford FreeCreditReport.com 40/0 230 Running
42 21 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 37/0 230 Running
43 4 10 Patrick Carpentier * Dodge LifeLock 34/0 229 Running

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