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Saturday, September 6 Sunday, September 7 Richmond Int'l Raceway
Johnson Edges Stewart to Win Chevy Rock and Roll 400
RICHMOND, Va. (September 7, 2008) - Gather round the water coolers, folks. Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Kyle Busch are at it again, just like they were when they left Richmond International Raceway the last time.
Only this time, the shoe was on the other foot, a hot shoe at that.
More on that in a minute.
Jimmie Johnson outdueled Tony Stewart in a race to the wire Sunday to win the Chevy Rock & Roll 400.
Running side by side and bumper to bumper the last 10 laps of the 400-lap race, Johnson beat Stewart across the finish line, serving notice he intends to really go after a third NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship in a row. Johnson and Stewart finished ahead of Virginian Denny Hamlin and Earnhardt, who led several times during the race and tangled with Busch, who spun and hit the wall just like Earnhardt did in the spring when the two got together.
It was an instant replay of the spring incident except Busch wound up on the receiving end this time around.
The Sunday crowd of more than 100,000 fans cheered loudly when the two cars rubbed together after racing each other side by side.
Actually, the accident was neither driver's fault, just good hard racing fans have come to expect at this track.
And they'll likely be talking about this one for weeks to come. It was the final race before the Sprint Chase and the lineup of the top 12 remained the same, even though young David Ragan made a valiant effort to unseat Clint Bowyer from the 12th and final spot.
At one point in the race, Ragan, who started 17 points behind Bowyer, had moved ahead of the Jack Daniels driver but a skirmish with teammate Matt Kenseth ended his chances.
Rounding out the top 10 in the race were Mark Martin, Jeff Burton,Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, David Reutimann, who led the race near the end, and Kurt Busch. Brother Kyle, leading the point standings, salvaged a 15th-place finish after the shunt with Earnhardt.
The race was riddled with caution flags but someone was passing someone, or trying to, almost every lap.
The series moves to Loudon, N. H., next week for the first race in Nascar's version of a playoff. Busch, Carl Edwards (13th Sunday), Earnhardt, Greg Biffle (14th Sunday), Burton, Harvick, Gordon, Hamlin, Stewart, Kenseth (39th) and Bowyer(ironically 12th Sunday) are now eligible for the coveted championship that will be decided in the next 10 races.
And fans will be debating the Earnhardt-Busch incident for some time.
It was a perfect afternoon, clear, sunny and temperatures in the 80s when 43 powerful engines roared to life after being locked up in team haulers hiding from Tropical Storm Hanna for a day and a half.
The powerful storm forced NASCAR to postpone all events originally scheduled Friday and Saturday, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races, as well as time trials for both.
Hanna roared through in the wee hours of Saturday morning, leaving as much as four inches of rain and high winds in its path. The rain didn't stop until late Saturday evening which gave all the teams an unexpected day off.
Once the race did start, point leader Kyle Busch kept the lead until Kevin Harvick, who started seventh, passed him on lap 29. NASCAR threw a compeition caution at 35 laps to allow teams an opportunity to check tire wear. The heavy rains had washed all the rubber from the track.
When they made the stop, Harvick was in front and Dale Earnhardt Jr. had passed Busch for second.
Jeff Gordon was fourth, trailed by Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, David Ragan, Clint Bowyer and Carl Edwards. Many of the fans were keeping their eyes on Bowyer, Ragan and Kasey Kahne, all battling for the 12th and final slot in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase for the Championship.
Bowyer held a 17-point lead over Ragan and a 48-point lead over Kahne entering the race.
When the race resumed, Gordon's pit crew got him out ahead. Harvick was second with Earnhardt third. Busch dropped back to ninth. Bowyer was eighth but ahead of both Ragan and Kahne.
Both Harvick and Hamlin dusted Gordon in short order, as did Earnhardt. Stewart and Bowyer also moved into the top five.
Edwards had to make an unscheduled stop for a flat tire on lap 71. Harvick, Hamlin and Earnhardt mixed it up around lap 75, and Earnhardt took the lead. The sport's most popular driver took the high road around the track, sailing off the corners and down the straightaways with a burst of speed. His car was literally flying around the top side of the three-quarter-mile track while every other driver preferred the low side.
A scrape with the trioval wall cut a tire on Johnny Sauter's Chevy and brought the caution flag out on lap 96.
Earnhardt led on the restart, followed by Hamlin, Harvick, Busch and Kenseth.
The field didn't get far this time before some beating and banging resulted in Michael Waltrip spinning to bring the caution out again.
Greg Biffle encountered a problem on lap 114, prompting an unscheduled stop for his Roush Ford and another caution.
Teammates Matt Kenseth and Ragan banged together on lap 121, slamming the outside retaining wall, handicapping Ragan's Chase hopes.
Harvick took the lead from Earnhardt on lap 138 and appeared to have the car to beat as he built up a 1.2-second on Earnhardt's No. 88 Chevy. Both cars pulled away from Hamlin, Busch and Bowyer.
Juan Pablo Montoya hit the wall on lap 163 and caused a chain reaction accident to bring out another caution. Elliott Sadler was involved.
On the restart, Earnhardt was back in front with Harvick second but Harvick passed Earnhardt a few laps later, regaining the lead.
By the halfway point, Busch was back out front with Earnhardt second and Hamlin third. Harvick was next ahead of Stewart, Johnson, Bowyer, Jeff Burton, Gordon and Ryan Newman.
Martin Truex, Jr., spun starting the 201st lap, bringing out another caution.
The 2008 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field poses with the Sprint Cup trophy after the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond International Raceway. The drivers are (Back row L-R) Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle, Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Burton (Front row L-R) Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer and Kyle Busch.
The Race: Chevy Rock & Roll 400
The Place: Richmond International Raceway
The Track: .75-mile oval
The Distance: 400 laps/300 miles
TV:ABC, 8 p.m. (AT) Sunday at 2 p.m. - ESPN2 & TSN2
Radio: MRN, SIRIUS Satellite - at 1 p.m. Sunday
2007 Winner: Jimmie Johnson
2007 Polesitter: Jimmie Johnson
Pre-Race Day Schedule: (local track time/ET) Friday—Practice, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Qualifying, 6:05 p.m.
Year-To-Date Race Results & Driver Point Standingsclick here
TV Broadcast Times - AT*
Practice: Friday, Sep 5 (ESPN2 at Noon)
Qualifying: Friday, Sep 5 (ESPN2 at 7 p.m.)
RaceDay: Saturday, Sep 6 (SPEED at 6 p.m.)
Pre-Race:Saturday, Sep 6 (ABC at 8 p.m.)
Race:Saturday, Sep 6 (ABC at 8:30 p.m.) Sunday, Sep 7 (ESPN2 & TSN2 at 2 p.m.)
*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
Young phenom Joey Logano will not make his Sprint Cup debut at Richmond as anticipated - since qualifying was rained out...
Qualifying was rained out so the starting lineup was set according to the NASCAR rule book which dictates the current
owner point standings will determine the starting order - giving series point leader Kyle Busch the pole position.
Weekend Activities Postponed To Sunday Posted September 5, 2008; Source - RIR Communications
RICHMOND, VA (September 5, 2008) – Due to inclement weather from Tropical Storm Hanna, NASCAR and Richmond International Raceway officials have announced all weekend activities, including tonight’s Emerson Radio 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race, as well as tomorrow night’s Chevy Rock & Roll 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race have been postponed to Sunday.
The Chevy Rock & Roll 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race is scheduled to start at 1:00 p.m. Sunday. The Emerson Radio 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race will follow the Sprint Cup Series race at 7:00 p.m.
All Chevy Rock & Roll 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race tickets will be honored at the gate Sunday for the 1:00 p.m. Chevy Rock & Roll 400.
All Emerson Radio 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race tickets will be honored at the gate Sunday for the 7:00 p.m. Emerson Radio 250.
Both races will be broadcast on TSN2 in Canada. Canadian fans who don't have TSN2 can listen to the MRN Radio broadcast of both races
live on SIRIUS Satellite Radio, Channel 128 (see below).
MRN Radio To Provide Live Coverage of Both Richmond Races Sunday
MRN Radio will provide live, flag-to-flag coverage of both of Sunday’s postponed NASCAR races at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.
Air time for the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 Sprint Cup Series race is 12 p.m. (EDT). It’s the final chance for drivers to secure spots in the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup that will crown the 2008 champion. Later Sunday, the Emerson Radio 250 Nationwide Series race will air live on MRN Radio starting at 6:30 p.m.
“Although the weather has dramatically altered the schedule in Richmond, we want our many loyal listeners to know that they won’t have to miss a single lap of either event,” said MRN Radio President David Hyatt.
And there will be racing on MRN Radio Saturday. The network is scheduled to air live coverage of the Camping World 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race from Madison, Ill. Coverage will begin at 2 p.m. (EDT).
Although competitors in both the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide series were able to practice some on Friday in Richmond, Tropical Storm Hanna settled in over the speedway and forced the postponement of both Friday’s and Saturday’s race. Qualifying for both series also was washed out, putting a pair of Joe Gibbs Racing drivers on the pole in their respective events: Kyle Busch in the Cup Series and Joey Logano in Nationwide.
Canadian fans can listen to the MRN Radio broadcasts via SIRIUS Satellite Radio, NASCAR Channel 128.
Statement From RIR on Potential Impact of Tropical Storm Hanna Posted September 5, 2008; Source - RIR Communications
“Richmond International Raceway is working hand-in-hand with the Governor’s office, as well as other state and local officials, National Weather Service officials and NASCAR, to monitor the path and potential impact of Tropical Storm Hanna.
“As of 6:00 p.m. Thursday, this weekend’s events are scheduled to run as planned, however, we will continue to provide updates at www.rir.com and 877-251-7223, as to their status every three hours beginning Friday morning at 9:00 a.m.
“Should an event be postponed due to weather, it is NASCAR’s policy to run the event on the next raceable day.
"We are in constant communication with the Governor’s office and will provide updates as they become available.”
On The Line: Bubble Drivers Clint Bowyer, David Ragan and Kasey Kahne...Clint Bowyer, David Ragan and Kasey Kahne
occupy positions 12-14, respectively, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings. They were guests on Tuesday’s NASCAR Teleconference.
Following are some excerpts:
David Ragan: “We definitely are excited just to have an opportunity to get into the Chase. The bottom line is we just have to go out and beat these guys. No other way around it. We can’t count on the other teams having problems or issues throughout the race. We have got to make sure we are on our toes so we don’t have any mechanical failures or any screw ups in the pits and also on the race track. Richmond has been a good track for us in the past, we have had some success there.”
Kasey Kahne: “Yeah, I am looking forward to it. I think we just come in and really just do the best job we can. We’ve been put in a position and all we can do is do our best and hope that it works out for us, and see how the points end up at the end of the night. Really, if we run our race, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we are going to make it into the Chase. I just feel like Kenny (Francis) and our whole Budweiser team has done a good job preparing the car and being ready to go when we get to the race track. You know if we can go out there and try to get a really good finish and just look at the points in the end of the night and see where we are at.”
Clint Bowyer: “It’s obviously down to crunch time. We have one more week, but if there is anything that gives you a good feeling, it’s knowing that we won there in the spring and it’s a track that I typically run good at. But as we all know Richmond is a track where anything can happen. You know we have kind of put ourselves in this situation, but it is time to see what we are made of. A lot of pressure this weekend but I think we can handle it.”
Bonus Round: Richmond Affords Drivers One Last Chance To Improve Chase ‘Seeding’...Kyle Busch has obviously benefited from the increased emphasis on winning races that is now part of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship mix.
His outstanding season thus far will be rewarded appropriately when the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup begins next week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Busch will have the Chase’s “top seed.”
All drivers who make the 12-man Chase will have their season point totals “reset” to 5,000, whereupon they then will get 10 bonus points for each win they had prior to the Chase.
Busch has eight victories thus far, meaning he’ll start the Chase with at least 5,080 — 5,090 if he wins Saturday night at Richmond.
Carl Edwards has the second seed wrapped up, with 50 bonus points to date. A recent rebound has enabled him to slice into Busch’s once-daunting bonus point advantage. (Edwards actually has six race victories this year but a penalty after Las Vegas erased the bonus points he got winning at that track.)
Two-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson has the third seed secured, via a recent return to his form of the previous two seasons. Johnson has three wins on the year and will start the Chase at 5,030.
Kasey Kahne could start as the fourth seed, as he has two victories and a potential 5,020. One problem, though: Kahne is in peril of not even qualifying for the Chase field, as he heads to Richmond 14th in the series points, 48 behind 12th-place Clint Bowyer.
After that, we have a traffic jam.
Four drivers have won once in 2008 and are set to start the Chase with 5,010: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Bowyer, Denny Hamlin and Jeff Burton. Of course it should be noted that of those four, only Earnhardt and Burton have actually clinched Chase spots.
Richmond, then, can be seen as a last chance race of sorts both for drivers trying to get into the Chase — and for those already safely in the field.
Richmond affords drivers one more shot at accruing bonus points and capitalizing on the emphasis on winning now prevalent in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing.
Champions Lined Up For 2008 Playoffs...When the field is set for the fifth annual Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, following Saturday night’s Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond, fans will immediately notice that the field will feature the cream of NASCAR’s crop of talent.
Four former series champions appear headed toward the 10-race Chase, amounting to a total of nine NASCAR Sprint Cup Series titles, collectively.
Here’s a look:
Two-time defending series champion Jimmie Johnson, the only one of the four to have clinched a Chase spot, coming into Saturday night’s event.
Two-time champion Tony Stewart;
2003 champion Matt Kenseth;
And four-time champion Jeff Gordon, who actually has a bit of a challenge facing him at Richmond, to secure a Chase berth. (See page 2’s clinching scenarios.)
RIR Races Are Always One For the Books — The History Books...Since the advent of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Richmond International Raceway has been part of a new round of history-making, as the site for the annual “Chase cut-off” event.
This is appropriate. Richmond is all about history in NASCAR. It’s been on the NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule since 1953, when Lee Petty won the Richmond 200 by averaging 45.535 mph in a Dodge, on a half-mile track that was then a free-wheeling dirt surface.
In three of the four previous seasons, drivers who were outside the Chase “bubble” raced their way into Chase, via their efforts in the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 — Jeremy Mayfield in 2004, Ryan Newman (No. 12 Alltel Dodge) in 2005 and Kasey Kahne in 2006.
Ahead Of The Curve, Logano Looks To Make First NASCAR Sprint Cup Start...Joey Logano, in the No. 02 Home Depot Toyota of Joe Gibbs Racing, will attempt to make his first NASCAR Sprint Cup start on Saturday night.
At the age of 18.
Without the safety net of a guaranteed starting spot via the car owner points (the top 35 are guaranteed starts), Logano will have to make the field based solely on his qualifying speed. Few people are betting against him doing just that.
In addition to this week’s attempt, Logano plans on running five more NASCAR Sprint Cup events this season in the No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota, beginning with the Sept. 14 Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. Logano will also drive the No. 96 machine at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City Sept. 28, Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., Oct. 11, Martinsville (Va.) Speedway Oct. 19, and Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth Nov. 2.
Next season he takes over Tony Stewart’s No. 20 Home Depot Toyota ride full-time.
IMPORTANT: All information, schedules and/or scheduled events is/are subject to change without notice. Please
check with the source to confirm.