Bowyer Wins, Gordon Makes The Chase
RICHMOND, Va. – Clint Bowyer saved just enough fuel to grab his second NASCAR Sprint Cup Series triumph of the season early Sunday morning at Richmond Int’l Raceway, but maybe more importantly Jeff Gordon finished second to claim the final spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Bowyer, who cut a tire and spun out on lap 236 after contact with Juan Pablo Montoya, somehow managed to save enough gas during the final run pick up the victory. He jokingly thanked Montoya in victory lane for the contact that eventually allowed him to win at Richmond.
“Thank you Juan Pablo for wrecking me and then winning me the race,” Bowyer said from victory lane. “We had a lot of adversity we had to battle through, kind of bummed out as a team coming into this race. This is a good way to get things bounced back heading into this Chase.”
There was plenty of drama to go around at Richmond. The start of the race was delayed 90 minutes by rain and was then delayed a second time by weather at lap 152. Following a nearly hour-long delay, the race returned to green flag conditions with Denny Hamlin out front.
Hamlin dominated most of the event, leading more than 200 laps, but another caution flag for rain on lap 277 changed the complexion of the event.
Under caution most of the field came down pit road, but front runners Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Kyle Busch opted not to pit. Hamlin and Earnhardt both ended up pitting just before the field returned green flag racing when they realized the rain wouldn’t stop the event.
Several drivers took turns up front before Bowyer grabbed the lead for the final time. Meanwhile, Gordon was fighting his way up through the field while Busch struggled to keep up with the field.
Using fresh tires to make up time, Gordon sailed through the field while Busch faded. Gordon made it all the way to second at the finish, which gave him the final Chase Wild Card berth by a mere three points over Busch.
“Man that was an awesome effort,” Gordon said. “I’m so fired up to get this Chase started, I don’t care where we’re gonna start it in the points. We’re in it.”
Busch, who ended up 16th, was far from pleased.
“We missed. That’s it. Plain and simple,” Busch said bluntly.
Kasey Kahne, who came into Saturday’s race with two victories and was all but assured a Chase Wild Card berth, finished 12th.
Mark Martin finished the race in third, followed by defending series champion Tony Stewart and Daytona 500 winner Matt Kenseth.