Image details: Best Buy 400 served by picapp.com
Kyle Busch stayed atop the Sprint Cup Series points standings, and he did so in convincing fashion by dominating the later portions of the Best Buy 400 at Dover International Speedway, outrunning the Roush-Fenway Racing cars to the finish. The race was 400 circuits long, and Busch was a third place car for over half of them, but his ability to get on and off of pit road quickly enabled him to pass Carl Edwards for the lead during a round of green flag pit stops with 163 laps to go, and there was no turning back after that.
The race had the looks of an exciting one early on with a huge pileup on lap 18 that involved twelve cars, six of which entered the day inside the top-12 in points. Elliott Sadler clipped the front end of the no. 38 Yates car of David Gilliland coming out of the turn, and the contact was enough to send Sadler spinning into the wall. Tony Stewart, who was driving behind Sadlers no. 19 Dodge at the time, ran right into the crash, and it became a domino effect after that, collecting Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, Clint Bowyer, Bill Elliott, Scott Riggs, Bobby LaBonte, and Paul Menard in the process. Hamlin and Sadler retired their cars following the accident, while Stewart and Harvick spent significant time in the garage. With the exception of Clint Bowyer, Paul Menard, and David Gilliland, all of the other cars found themselves at least one lap down after the mele’.
From that point, things remained relatively uneventful until lap 154, at which point Greg Biffle had led all but four laps, surrending the lead only during the first caution period, at which point Michael McDowell stayed out to lead a lap, and then three laps during a round of green flag stops. Shortly after all of the cars had completed their green flag stops, the no. 84 Team Red Bull car driven by AJ Allmendinger stalled due to a problem with the fuel pressure to bring out the fourth caution flag of the day.
Under caution, Kurt Busch, who had been running inside the top-five for the better part of the day, spent a lot of time on pit road as the team try to correct a problem with the fuel intake. Busch returned to the track, but was two laps down, ending his bid for a much needed quality run. During the same caution period, Jimmie Johnson was caught speeding on pit road and was forced to start at the tail end of the longest line.
Carl Edwards finally took the lead from his Roush teammate on lap 171, marking the first time all day long that Biffle had been passed on the track. Biffle had spotted a problem with car, which they traced back to an altenator problem, and it cost him a bit of time on the track as he was forced to shut off several things in the car to save the battery, including the driver cooling systems.
Edwards held onto the lead until the field was set for their next round of pit stops on lap 232. A few drivers, including Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, and Paul Menard led the race during the exchange, but when the field had cycled through, it was Busch at the front of the pack with a 2 second lead, largely attributed to his ability to get onto pit road much more aggressively, and more quickly than the other drivers.
The caution flag waived only once more for debris in turn 2, much to the dismay of the Roush drivers that trailed behind Busch on the track. The field made two more pit stops under green, and Busch extended his lead on the field each time. He went onto win the race by a 4.225 second margin.
Edwards finished the race in second, followed by fellow Roushketeers Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth in third and fourth place. Jeff Gordon ended a solid day with a fifth place run, and last year’s winner, Martin Truex Jr, finished in sixth and was the final car on the lead lap. Jimmie Johnson recovered nicely from his earlier mistake on pit road, but not as well as he’d have liked to, and he came home in seventh. 8th place went to Jeff Burton, extending his streak to finishing every race this season in the top-15, but he ended his streak of completing every lap run, as he, too, finished a lap down. Dave Blaney and Jamie McMurray finished in 9th and 10th, giving them each their second top-ten finish of the season.
Travis Kvapil put together another nice run with his 11th place finish in yet another unsponsored car, moving him up now to 18th in the points standings. Brian Vickers ran up inside the top-ten for the first half of the race, but was caught speeding on pit road twice, and finished two laps down in 13th place. Ryan Newman had a top-ten run ruined as well, as he experienced the same issues with the fuel intake as his Penske teammate, Kurt Busch, and he went two laps down due to an extended pit stop with 80 laps to go, though he still maintained a 14th place finish.
Busch’s victory now gives Joe Gibbs Racing their season-leading fifth on the season, and extends his points lead over Jeff Burton to 142. Though no drivers dropped out of the top-12, there was quite a bit of shakeup. Greg Biffle jumped up six spots to take over fifth, and less than a hundred points now separates 12th place Kasey Kahne from 16th place Matt Kenseth.
the Race: 77%
the Drama: 80%
Overall Grade: 79.1
Complete Results (from nascar.com):
|2||3||99||Carl Edwards||Ford||Office Depot||175/5||400||Running|
|4||8||17||Matt Kenseth||Ford||DEWALT NANO Technology||165/5||400||Running|
|6||12||1||Martin Truex Jr.||Chevrolet||Bass Pro Shops / Tracker||150/0||400||Running|
|8||15||31||Jeff Burton||Chevrolet||AT&T Mobility||142/0||399||Running|
|10||10||26||Jamie McMurray||Ford||Crown Royal||139/5||399||Running|
|11||13||28||Travis Kvapil||Ford||Yates Racing||130/0||399||Running|
|12||20||42||Juan Montoya||Dodge||Texaco / Havoline||127/0||399||Running|
|13||7||83||Brian Vickers||Toyota||Red Bull||124/0||398||Running|
|14||5||12||Ryan Newman||Dodge||Samsung HDTV / ALLTEL||126/5||398||Running|
|15||16||6||David Ragan||Ford||AAA Insurance||118/0||398||Running|
|17||24||5||Casey Mears||Chevrolet||Kellogg’s / CARQUEST||112/0||397||Running|
|18||13||77||Sam Hornish Jr. *||Dodge||Penske Truck Rental||109/0||397||Running|
|19||26||7||Robby Gordon||Dodge||Jim Beam||106/0||397||Running|
|20||4||2||Kurt Busch||Dodge||Miller Lite||103/0||396||Running|
|21||25||01||Regan Smith *||Chevrolet||DEI / Principal Financial Group||100/0||396||Running|
|22||29||15||Paul Menard||Chevrolet||Pittsburgh Paints / Menards||97/0||396||Running|
|23||19||8||Mark Martin||Chevrolet||U.S. Army||94/0||394||Running|
|24||31||96||J.J. Yeley||Toyota||DLP HDTV||91/0||394||Running|
|28||22||55||Michael Waltrip||Toyota||NAPA AUTO PARTS||79/0||393||Running|
|29||34||10||Patrick Carpentier *||Dodge||Auto Value / Bumper to Bumper||76/0||393||Running|
|30||33||00||Michael McDowell *||Toyota||Microsoft Small Business||78/5||393||Running|
|32||37||43||Bobby Labonte||Dodge||Cheerios / Betty Crocker||67/0||391||Running|
|33||36||21||Bill Elliott||Ford||U.S. Air Force||64/0||389||Running|
|34||23||78||Joe Nemechek||Chevrolet||Furniture Row
|35||38||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Chevrolet||AMP Energy / National Guard||58/0||387||Running|
|37||17||84||A.J. Allmendinger||Toyota||Red Bull||52/0||365||Running|
|38||41||29||Kevin Harvick||Chevrolet||Shell / Pennzoil||49/0||326||Running|
|39||40||66||Scott Riggs||Chevrolet||State Water Heaters||46/0||308||Running|
n.com / Continental Fire & Safety
|41||39||20||Tony Stewart||Toyota||The Home Depot||40/0||199||In Pit|
|42||42||19||Elliott Sadler||Dodge||Best Buy / Garmin / Autism Speaks||37/0||16||In Pit|
|43||43||11||Denny Hamlin||Toyota||FedEx Kinko’s||34/0||16||In Pit|
Sprint Cup Series Standings (from nascar.com):
|RANK||+/-||DRIVER||POINTS||BEHIND||STARTS||POLES||WINS||TOP 5||TOP 10|
|3||–||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||1779||-271||13||1||0||5||9|
|15||–||Martin Truex Jr.||1441||-609||13||0||0||1||4|
|33||+1||Sam Hornish Jr.*||1039||-1011||13||0||0||0||0|