NASCAR »

Bowyer clinches narrow win over Harvick

The big loser during this restart jockeying was Denny Hamlin, who had fallen back and lost the draft entirely, running by himself back in 32nd place, 26s off the lead - a very dangerous situation for a prime Chase contender. On the radio, Hamlin's team mate Kyle Busch was heard to ask his pit chief whether he needed to fall back and carry out a rescue mission to provide Hamlin with a drafting partner before the pack (closing at a rate of some 2s a lap) put him a lap down, but it was already too late. Hamlin was on his own, and on lap 99 he was finally off the lead lap: worse, with the traffic passing him in a single file, he was desperate to find someone to let him in line before he fell all the way to the back of the field here as well. Finally it was David Reutimann who tapped the brakes and made a space for Hamlin to slot into.

By now, Dale Earnhardt Jr had once again thrilled Junior Nation by being boosted to the front by Jeff Burton on lap 92; he would be deposed eleven laps later by Reutimann, who was pushed to the front by Hamlin returning the #00's good deed letting him back in line. Getting back to the front also meant Hamlin was technically back on the led lap, which did not sit well with Chase rival Kevin Harvick who mounted a determined campaign with the assistance of Clint Bowyer to take the lead and push Hamlin off the lead lap once more.

And then for the next 25 laps, it was leader slot machine all over again: Juan Montoya led lap 105, then Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Montoya again, Earnhardt Jr. back to the front on lap 112, then Bowyer was back as many of the cars hit pit road for another green flag sequence of stops. David Reutimann won the race off pit road, then ceded the lead to Aric Amirola: Elliott Sadler, Marcos Ambrose, Harvick, McMurray, Burton, Burton and Montoya all cycled to the top as things remained very fluid and the field extended out four-wide at times. With the race fast approaching its final 50 laps, things were starting to get a lot more serious, the racing tougher, and drafting partners harder to come by.

Considering Talladega's reputation for huge wrecks, it was amazing that the afternoon had seen 133 laps of running with only one caution; but that couldn't last, and sure enough the second caution of the afternoon was out on lap 134. It was sparked by Earnhardt Jr. giving Jeff Burton too much of a shove from behind, sending the #31 down the track where it made light contact with Kevin Harvick; Burton overcorrected, veered up the track and sandwiched Earnhardt Jr between himself and the wall. That sent Burton completely out of control, down the track - mercifully missing everyone on the way - across the grass. The damage to the front end from where it had hit Earnhardt Jr and the wall was extensive - steam and flames coming out in equal measure - and Burton climbed out of the car, furious at the turn of events after having spent much of the race up front. He kicked the car door in frustration on the way out, but it wasn't going to change matters.

Earnhardt Jr took to the garage to get the damage to the #88 sorted out but Harvick was luckier with the damage to his car from the initial hit with Burton pretty light. Ironically, the biggest loser among the Chase contenders from this yellow was Denny Hamlin who hadn't even been involved in the accident itself: unfortunately for Denny, the yellow had come out just seconds after Ryan Newman had gone a lap down, and that meant that Newman and not Hamlin got the lucky dog. Hamlin was still a lap down, a critical blow to his Chase hopes.

Juan Montoya led the field to green but then David Reutimann and Joey Logano teamed up to take the lead on successive laps. Not that the racing continued for long: on lap 141 it was back to a caution, and once again Kevin Harvick was in the thick of it. It started when Kyle Busch made a move down the inside of Marcos Ambrose, leaving Ambrose pinched between the #18 and the #42 of Montoya on the outside, which left him destabilised and just needing to ease off the throttle. That earned him a tap from behind from Clint Bowyer, and it was enough to spin Ambrose to the left and send him down the track - and the first car to plough into the side of the #47 was none other than Kevin Harvick, who got a lot of front end damage. It looked bad, but Harvick was on the radio reassuring his pit crew that there was nothing terminal; further back it was less fortunate for Bill Elliott, who had spun as the field reacted to the wreck ahead of them and ended up with major damage against the wall.

Meanwhile, Denny Hamlin was in the lucky dog position and set to finally get his lap back - until preliminary word from NASCAR suggested that he had been involved in the incident and therefore barred from benefiting. Several minutes later - and a lot of video replays - finally proved that Hamlin had been completely out of the picture when the wreck started and so he could breath again, back on the lead lap at long last.

Joey Logano took the restart in the lead (after Sam Hornish, attempting a fuel-only strategy to put him out front, got hit with a pit lane speeding penalty.) He led through to lap 150 when Martin Truex Jr got pushed to the front by Montoya, and then two laps later there was a fourth yellow for debris. The top 15 opted to stay out under caution but some - including Kyle Busch, Greg Biffle, Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson - opted to pit for fresh rubber to give them a critical edge for the final run to the chequered flag.

And what a difference the lucky dog and fresh rubber made to Hamlin's cause: after Truex Jr led the restart only to see Montoya pushed to the front by Logano, it was Hamlin just three laps later who flew past for the lead with an assist from Kyle Busch: Denny was well and truly back, and with Harvick still running well and Jimmie Johnson never far away, all of a sudden it was looking like a big showdown between the three remaining Sprint Cup contenders was looming.

Kyle Busch had taken over the lead by the time the race entered the final dozen laps, and things were getting serious. Paul Menard took over from Kyle, but just behind it was Jeff Gordon helping Jimmie Johnson to the front to claim what could be five vital points for leading a lap. Suddenly suffering from engine problems, Gordon couldn't stay with the pace and fell back fearing he was about to blow up, so Johnson's lead was for a single lap - but enough to secure him those vital bonus points. Then Clint Bowyer was past for the lead just as Joe Nemechek has a tyre blow on him, shedding debris on the race track and bringing out the fifth caution of the day on lap 181 - seven laps from the chequered.




Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Clint Bowyer at Daytona [Pic credit: Getty for NASCAR]
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS, won the Pole position Friday, August 29, 2014 for Sunday`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. It was Harvick`s sixth pole win of the 2014 season. He is 7th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on August 29, 2014 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick (L), driver of the #5 Bad Boy Buggies Chevrolet, talks to Regan Smith, driver of the #7 TaxSlayer Bowl Chevrolet, in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Great Clips 300 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on August 29, 2014 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, finished fourth and Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet SS, finished twelfth Saturday, August 23, 2014 in the Nascar Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Doublemint Toyota, Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 STP Ford, and Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-hour Energy Toyota, are involved in an on-track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 23, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, qualified for sixth position Friday, August 22, 2014 for Saturday evening`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. Johnson is seventh in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmie John`s Chevrolet SS, won the pole position Friday, August 22, 2014 for Saturday evening`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. Harvick is sixth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, poses with the pole award after qualifying fastest for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, poses with his wife DeLana, son Keelan, and the pole award after qualifying fastest for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, races to win Sunday, August 17, 2014 in the Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy Johns Chevrolet SS finished second. This was Gordon`s third win of the season. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Danica Patrick, driver of the #10 GoDaddy Chevrolet, Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Furniture Row Chevrolet, Trevor Bayne, driver of the #21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford, Justin Allgaier, driver of the #51 Brandt Professional Agriculture Chevrolet, and Michael Annett, driver of the #7 Allstate Peterbilt/Pilot Chevrolet, are involved in an incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 17, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan.  (Photo Credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Sam Hornish Jr., driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, leads the field at the start of the Nationwide Childrens`s Hospital 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on August 16, 2014 in Lexington, Ohio.  (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy Johns Chevrolet SS, qualified sixth Friday, August 15, 2014 for Sunday`s Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. Harvick is 8th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Scott Products Chevrolet SS, races to win Sunday, August 10, 2014 in the Nascar Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Christa L. Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Scott Products Chevrolet SS, celebrates his first Sprint Cup win Sunday, August 10, 2014 in the Cheez-It 355 race at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Christa L. Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Scott Products Chevrolet SS, celebrates his win Sunday, August 10, 2014 in the Nascar Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, New York.  (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #47 Scott Products Chevrolet SS, celebrates his first Sprint Cup win Sunday, August 10, 2014 in the Cheez-It 355 race at Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Christa L. Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)

Start the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.




© 1999 - 2014 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.