Saturday, Sept. 8
Richmond Int'l Raceway
Jimmie Johnson celebrates his win - and points lead - Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway.
Johnson Grabs Win, Chase Lead at Richmond
RICHMOND, VA (September 8, 2007) - Jimmie Johnson did it again.
Johnson took the lead on a restart after 347 laps and never looked back as he raced away from the field to win the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race.
Had Johnson been able to see behind him, he would have witnessed some of the best racing of the year as Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart raced side by side for lap after lap before Stewart took control to finish second.
Earnhardt’s valiant effort to race his way into the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup championship went up in smoke with seven laps remaining as the engine in his Chevy blew up.
Earnhardt wound up 30th on a night when drama presented itself repeatedly.
Rookie of the year David Ragan finished third, Gordon was fourth and Johnny Sauter fifth.
Sauter's finish was his best of the season in a race where every position had to be earned with flat-out, wheel-to-wheel racing.
Denny Hamlin was sixth and Kevin Harvick, who took a wild ride through the tri-oval grass and wound up restarting way back in the pack, raced his way back to seventh place.
Kasey Kahne was eighth, Kurt Busch was ninth after being involved in an accident, and J. J. Yeley finished 10th.
The race, the 26th of the NASCAR season, was the last before NASCAR resets the points for the top-12 drivers in the points. Those 12 drivers are eligible for the championship in the final 10 races.
Those drivers are Gordon, Johnson, Stewart, Matt Kenseth, Kurt and Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton, Harvick, Carl Edwards and Martin Truex Jr.
Johnson will be leading the points with 5,060 points. Gordon will be next 20 points behind.
A dozen caution flags slowed the pace of the race and two red flags were thrown while crews cleaned things up.
It was an action-packed event throughout the 400 laps, including several multi-car accidents that eliminated numerous drivers, including Juan Pablo Montoya, Greg Biffle, Jamie McMurray and others.
Eight laps into the race, Tony Raines and Jeff Green tangled in turn one to bring out the first caution of the night.
Gregg Biffle became a victim of the accident and received some damage to his Ford.
Paul Menard spun out of turn four on the 22nd lap to bring the caution out again.
Gordon had led every lap to that point but Newman came out of the pits first after taking only two tires.
Casey Mears and David Gilliland were up front on the restart after not pitting. Newman quickly passed Mears for the lead.
Scott Riggs brought out another caution at 60 Laps when a cut tire sent him hard into the wall out of turn four, inflicting serious damage to his Dodge.
Gordon resumed the lead after the pit stop with Johnson and Newman in tow.
There was no doubt at this point in the race it was going to be a real barnburner, with Gordon and Johnson racing for the win and the extra 10 bonus points in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup championship seeding that begins next week at New Hampshire. The top 12 spots in the point standings are seeded with each win adding 10 points.
Johnson entered the race Saturday night with five wins this season that would equate to 5,050 points in the start-things-all-over scenario next weekend.
At 100 laps, it was Gordon, Johnson, Kurt Busch, Edwards, Hamlin, Newman, Harvick, Stewart, McMurray and Bowyer in the top 10.
Johnny Sauter had moved from a 30th starting position to 11th. Earnhardt was running 12th at the time.
Joe Nemechek was the victim of a cut tire at lap 133 and brought out the caution when he hit the wall in turn four.
Gordon resumed the lead when the green flag resumed the race.
Martin Truex Jr. went to the rear of the field after speeding on pit road.
Edwards ran Gordon down and passed him on lap 167 for the lead.
On the 180th lap, Edwards' Ford went up in smoke and behind the wall with engine problems.
Hamlin took the lead on the restart with Gordon right behind him.
At the halfway point, it was Hamlin, Gordon and Bowyer battling for the lead.
Bowyer lost the handle on his Chevy underneath Hamlin and spun right after the halfway point to bring out another caution.
On the restart shortly past halfway, it was Gordon, Hamlin, Johnson, Stewart, Newman, Kenseth, Earnhardt, Harvick, McMurray and Blaney the top 10. Bowyer's problem dropped him back to 27th spot.
Final Practice: Friday, September 7 (ESPN2 at Noon/AT, 11 a.m./ET)
Qualifying: Friday, September 7 (ESPN2 & TSN-alt at 7 p.m./AT, 6 p.m./ET)
RaceDay: Saturday, September 8 (SPEED at 5:30 p.m./AT, 4:30 p.m./ET)
Countdown to Green: Saturday, September 8 (ABC & TSN-HD at 8 p.m./AT, 7 p.m./ET)
Race: Saturday, September 8 (ABC & TSN-HD at 8:30 p.m./AT, 7:30 p.m./ET)
Event Stats PDF files unless otherwise noted
Point Standings - reset for Chase
- Jimmie Johnson won the Bud Pole for the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 with a lap of 21.378 seconds, 126.298 mph.
- This is his 10th Bud Pole in 209 career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races.
- This is his second Bud Pole and 17th top-10 start in 2007.
- This is Johnson’s second Bud Pole and seventh top-10 start in 12 races at Richmond International Raceway.
- Jeff Gordon posted the second-fastest qualifying time with a lap of 21.541 seconds, 125.298 mph. It is his 23rd
top-10 start in 30 Richmond races and his 10th on the front row.
- Kyle Busch (third) posted his 11th top-10 start in 2007 and his third in six races at Richmond. He gave car owner
Rick Hendrick a sweep of the top-three positions.
- Scott Riggs (16th) was the fastest of the drivers required to make the field on time.
- David Ragan (eighth) was the fastest qualifying rookie.
- Drivers that failed to qualify for the event include: Michael Waltrip, Jeremy Mayfield, Ward Burton and Kevin Lepage.
- Complete starting lineup in the Event Stats section following...
Green Flag Fast Facts
The Race: Chevy Rock & Roll 400
The Place: Richmond International Raceway
The Date: Saturday, Sept. 8
The Time: 7:30 p.m. (ET)
TV: ABC, 7 p.m. (ET)
The Track: .75-mile oval
The Distance: 400 laps/300 miles
The Purse: $5,057,510
2006 Winner: Kevin Harvick
2006 Pole: Denny Hamlin
Pre-Race Schedule (local/ET time): Friday—Practice, 11:15 a.m.-1 p.m. Qualifying, 6:10 p.m.
Season To-Date Results & Point Standings: click here
Keys to Winning...
The “perfect” track. It’s a label that at some point attached itself to Richmond International Raceway quite securely, a label that perhaps has much to do with atmosphere as asphalt.
Granted, the three-quarters-mile oval seems “just right.” It combines the short-track elements of a Bristol with the fast-track feel of a 1.5-mile layout. Bottom line: It’s the ultimate “tweener.”
As far as what’s required to handle such perfection, read on...
Green Flag Notes...
- Take care of your car. There is multi-lane racing, so don’t get caught up in a multi-car accident
- Aerodynamics will play a role at RIR. Richmond is a fast track for a short track
- Brakes are a real factor. Don’t abuse your brakes
- Track position is critical; you need to work that in your favor during the course of the race.
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet) still has a shot to qualify for the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. A longshot, granted. And so he rolls into Richmond International Raceway this week on a wing, a prayer – and a vow.
“I want [our fans and sponsors] to know that no matter what, me and the team are giving everything we got,” Earnhardt said. “We're not going to lose focus or give up or pack it in.”
Earnhardt is 13th in series points coming into Saturday night’s Chevy Rock & Roll 400, 128 behind 12th-place Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Pennzoil Platinum Chevrolet).
The top eight drivers in the current points have clinched Chase spots. Drivers in ninth and 10th place must only start on Saturday night to clinch.
The lowest Earnhardt can finish at Richmond is fifth to still have a chance at making the Chase. The two caveats to that scenario: He must also lead the most laps and Harvick has to finish 43rd.
He can also finish fourth and lead one lap, or finish third and lead no laps and still qualify – as long as Harvick finishes last.
On the other end of the spectrum, if Earnhardt wins Saturday night and leads the most laps, he’ll clinch a spot if Harvick finishes 33rd or worse OR if Kurt Busch finishes 37th or worse. If Earnhardt wins but doesn’t lead the most laps, he’ll need a Harvick finish of 34th or lower OR a Busch finish of 39th or lower.
- NASCAR NEXTEL Cup racing returns to the ABC network, with the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond International Raceway – the
final event in the “Race to the Chase.” ABC will also broadcast all 10 races of the “Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup” starting
with the Sept. 16 event at New Hampshire International Speedway and ending with the season finale Nov. 18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
ABC’s last NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series broadcast was the 2000 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. took time Friday at Richmond to visit with Cortney Wickard of Mt. Holly Springs, Pa.
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