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Saturday, October 11
Lowe's Motor Speedway
Kevin Harvick (left) congratulates Richard Childress Racing teammate Jeff Burton on his win in the Bank of America 500.
Burton Holds Off Kahne For Win At Lowe's Motor Speedway
By Reid Spencer, Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service
CONCORD, N.C.—Despite Jimmie Johnson’s fast start to the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Jeff Burton hasn’t been willing to concede the trophy to the two-time defending champion.
On Saturday night, Burton gave more than lip service to that notion, holding off Kasey Kahne to win the Bank of America 500 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. The victory, Burton’s second of the season and the 21st of his career, vaulted the driver of the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet into second place in the standings, 69 points behind Johnson with five races left in the Chase.
“He (Burton) has always been on my radar,” said Johnson, who fought late-race handling problems and faded to sixth at the finish after battling Burton for the lead early in the final 33-lap green-flag run.
Burton had enough speed to hold off Kasey Kahne, who crossed the finish line .946 seconds behind the winner. Kurt Busch ran third, followed by Kyle Busch and Jamie McMurray.
Johnson finished one spot ahead of Greg Biffle, who remained third in the standings. Ignition problems cost Carl Edwards 16 laps early in the race and dropped him to 33rd at the finish. Edwards fell from second to fourth in points, 168 behind Johnson.
“We’re halfway (to the end of the Chase),”Burton said after climbing from his car. “It’s way too early to be handing anyone the trophy. It’s our job to put ourselves in position to go to Homestead (the season's final race) with a chance to win.”
Burton kept the lead with a gas-and-go on his final pit stop on Lap 298, a call made by crew chief Scott Miller.
“That’s what won the race for us,” said Burton, who held the lead for the final 57 of 334 laps after passing Biffle for the top spot on Lap 278.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. cut a tire and slammed into the Turn 2 wall on lap 103. He finished 36th, 45 laps down.
“No warning -- it just popped,” Earnhardt said. “I was running about 90 percent really, not running hard at all. The car was handling pretty good, just popped a tire up there … might have run over something.
“It is pretty disappointing, because I was just taking it pretty easy. We ran real, real hard here in the spring and worked our car too hard. I was just going to take care of the racecar; that was what I was trying to do. We just got some bad luck there.”
Clean air was king at Lowe’s, where Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch and Brian Vickers all opened leads of more than seven seconds at various points in the race. Stewart’s handling suffered in traffic, however, and he finished 11th but remained seventh in the Chase standings, 228 points behind Johnson.
Vickers suffered a hard brush with the Turn 4 wall on Lap 252 and fell to 18th at the finish, one lap down.
For Edwards, the end to the fifth Chase week couldn’t have come soon enough, after he scuffled with Kevin Harvick in the Nationwide garage on Thursday and spent the next two days fending off questions about the fracas.
“There’s only one thing to do, and that’s to learn from everything this week,” Edwards said. “That’s for sure. I can guarantee you that if I had the week to do over again, the last seven days would be a lot different. But you just have to do what you think is right at the time and move on after that.
“Today’s race didn’t help at all. That car right there is a great racecar. I don’t know if we’ve ever had the problem that we had there. It was something with the ignition system, so it’s very frustrating, but nobody got hurt at least, I guess.”
Complete Race Results click here
Post-Race Driver Point Standings click here
The Race: Bank of America 500
The Track: 1.5-mile tri-oval
The Distance: 501 miles/334 laps
TV: ABC, 8 p.m. (AT)
Radio: PRN, SIRIUS Satellite
2007 Winner: Jeff Gordon
2007 Polesitter: Ryan Newman
Pre-Race Day Schedule (all times local/ET): Thursday—Practice, 3-4:30 p.m. Qualifying, 7:10 p.m. Friday—Practice, 5-5:45 p.m. and 6:20-7:20 p.m.
Year-To-Date Race Results & Driver Point Standings click here
Broadcast Times - AT*
Qualifying: Thursday Oct 9 at 8 p.m. (ESPN2 & Sirius Satellite Radio)
Practice: Friday Oct 10 at 7:30 p.m. (ESPN2)
RaceDay: Saturday Oct 11 at 6 p.m. (SPEED)
Pre-Race: Saturday Oct 11 at 8 p.m. (ABC)
Race: Saturday Oct 11 at 8:25 p.m. (ABC & Sirius Satellite Radio)
*AT is one hour ahead of ET, i.e. if it's 2 p.m./AT - it's 1 p.m./ET...
Qualifying Notes & Starting Lineup
Points leader, and five-time Lowe's Motor Speedway winner, Jimmie Johnson walks through the Lowe's garage during the rain delay
Friday; qualifying was eventually cancelled - the lineup was set per the NASCAR rulebook giving Johnson the pole...
Pole Night Cancelled - Friday's Schedule Revised
Tonight's Bojangles' Pole Night at Lowe's Motor Speedway, featuring
qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, has been cancelled due to
The starting lineup for Saturday's Bank of America 500 will be set by the
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series owner point standings, with Jimmie Johnson and Carl
Edwards on the front row.
Friday's schedule has been revised, with the NASCAR Nationwide Series
garage opening at 9 a.m. and NNS final practice from 10 - 11 a.m. The
remainder of the day will run as scheduled.
Complete Starting Lineup click here
- Chase Intrigue, Johnson’s Title Quest Headline Return To LMS...Get all you can.
That’s this week’s mantra for Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup competitors, whose ranks were stirred last Sunday at unpredictable Talladega Superspeedway and whose opportunities for advancement are dwindling.
Saturday night’s Bank of America 500 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway may represent an ideal follow-up; it’s proven ground for many of the 12 teams battling for the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title, and also represents the opportunity to rebound, or establish momentum.
The fifth race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Saturday’s event marks the halfway point, and with seven of the 12 Chase participants switching positions after Talladega, those out front likely have eyes on rear-view mirrors.
Only 99 points separate the top four Chase drivers, who all retained their spots; only 27 points separate second from fourth.
Reigning and two-time series champion Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet) extended his lead over second-place Carl Edwards (No. 99 Aflac Ford) to 72 points.
Edwards leads third-place and Roush Fenway Racing teammate Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M Ford) by five points, while Biffle leads fourth-place Jeff Burton (No. 31 AT&T Mobility Chevrolet) by 22 points.
Johnson will be formidable at LMS, where he has five career wins and a series-high Driver Rating of 116.5. He’s attempting to become only the second driver in NASCAR history to win three consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup titles. Cale Yarborough (1976-78) is the other driver to do so.
Saturday also marks Johnson’s 250th career start.
“I’m fortunate to be able to do what I love for a living,” he said. “I’m so thankful for the success this team has had. I also know that I wouldn’t be where I am today without the hard work of (crew chief) Chad (Knaus) and my guys. This sport is a total team effort and I am so lucky to have such an awesome team.”
Other Bank of America 500 storylines:
Four-time series champion Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) is the defending winner of Saturday’s Bank of America 500. It’s also the last time he won. Gordon, currently eighth in the Chase standings, hasn’t had a winless season since his rookie year of 1992.
Edwards, Biffle and teammate Matt Kenseth (No. 17 Carhartt Ford) all hope to right themselves at LMS, after getting caught in a Lap 175 accident at Talladega. All three excel at LMS — Kenseth notched his first career win there, Biffle finished second in the May event and Edwards has an average LMS finish of 7.6.
Despite a wreck-induced 38th-place finish at Talladega, Gordon is optimistic about his chances this weekend. He finished fourth two weeks ago at another 1.5-mile track – Kansas Speedway – and posted the fastest speed during last month’s series test at LMS.
“There’s still a lot of racing left this year, and I’m not counting anybody out just yet,” Gordon said.
- Times Three: Kahne Going For The Three-Peat At LMS...Lowe’s Motor Speedway may be known as Jimmie Johnson’s house, but Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Budweiser Dodge) can stake a claim, too.
The reigning series champion usually rules at what’s considered the industry’s home track in Concord, N.C., just outside Charlotte, but Kahne maybe the driver to beat in Saturday night’s Bank of America 500.
He’s attempting something not even Johnson has accomplished — to become the first driver to sweep all three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events at LMS.
Earlier this season, Kahne’s back-to-back wins at LMS kick-started a run to make the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup,
He first won the non-points NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race there on May 17, following with a victory on May 25 in the Coca-Cola 600.
Kahne didn’t make the Chase — he’s currently 14th in the series standings — but making history would be a high note.
“Lowe’s is definitely one of my favorite tracks and we have a unique opportunity to win all three races here this year,” Kahne said. “We’ve won all the races here — we are just trying to get it done in one year. It would be a huge accomplishment for me personally and everyone at Gillett Evernham Motorsports to be able to complete the sweep.”
Kahne has three wins, three top fives, four top 10s and one DNF (did not finish) in nine career starts at LMS (this doesn’t include non-points All-Star events).
He also ranks well in pre-race NASCAR Loop Data statistics for LMS — third in Driver Rating (98.4) behind Johnson and Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M’s/Susan G. Komen For The Cure Toyota), respectively. He also ranks third in Average Running Position (12.7) and Quality Passes (296).
Kahne ranks second in Fastest Laps Run (227) and Green Flag Passes (516).
“It's a track where I seem to know what the car needs to go fast,” he said of LMS. “The line that you need to run here is so crucial. Lowe’s Motor Speedway is such a sensitive track, you can really mess up here by missing your line by just a little bit or not slowing down quite enough getting to the white line throughout the race.
“It’s a great track and hopefully we can continue to keep up the success here and get a win in the Bank of America 500.”
- Three Drivers To Attempt Series Debuts This Weekend...Much is on the line in Saturday’s Bank of America 500, but so too could be the start of three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series careers.
Brad Keselowski, Bryan Clauson and Scott Speed all will attempt to make their series debuts in the race, and all three first must qualify on speed during Thursday night’s qualifying session.
Keselowski will qualify Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 25 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet. Clauson will qualify Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 40 Target/Sony’s Motorstorm: Pacific Rift Dodge. Speed will qualify Team Red Bull’s No. 82 Red Bull Toyota.
All three drivers are considered future talents and all are busy in separate series this season.
Keselowski, 24, who drives the No. 88 Navy Chevrolet for JR Motorsports in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, is third in that series’ standings. He’ll also attempt to qualify for one other NASCAR Sprint Cup event this season, at Texas Motor Speedway.
Clauson, 19, has 18 NASCAR Nationwide Series starts, with one pole and one top-five finish.
Speed, 25, who will drive the No. 84 Red Bull Toyota in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series next season, currently leads the ARCA RE/MAX Series standings. He’s a former Formula One driver making the transition to stock cars.
- Milestone Watch...Several NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers will mark personal series milestones in Saturday night’s Bank of America 500.
Jimmie Johnson will make his 250th career start. Kasey Kahne will make his 175 career start. If he qualifies the No. 70 Hunt Broithers Pizza Chevrolet on Thursday night, Tony Raines will make his 125th career start.
This weekend also means a milestone for LMS, which will host its 100th NASCAR Sprint Cup and 54th NASCAR Nationwide events. A total of 499 drivers have competed there.
Four will attempt to make their first LMS starts this week — Brad Keselowski, Bryan Clauson, Scott Speed and Chad McCumbee (No. 45 Marathon American Spirit Motor Oil Dodge).
- Allmendinger Back In Action...Two weeks after parting ways with Red Bull Racing, AJ Allmendinger is back behind a steering wheel.
Michael Waltrip Racing announced this week that Allmendinger will qualify the No. 00 Champion Mortgage Toyota for Saturday’s Bank of American 500.
Owner Michael Waltrip said following the NASCAR Sprint Cup event at Kansas Speedway that several drivers will be used during the remainder of the season. The No. 00 currently is 36th in the owner standings; the top 35 each week are guaranteed starting positions.
Michael McDowell had driven the No. 00 since the fifth race of the season. Kenny Wallace drove it last week at Talladega and finished 12th — the team’s best result this season.
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