Saturday, Mar 25
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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Race Highlights:

  • Richard Childress Racing teammates finished third (Ty Dillon) and 24th (Brendan Gaughan). 
  • Dillon is third in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver championship point standings, 58 markers behind the leader; while Gaughan ranks 10th in the standings, 105 points out of the top spot.
  • The No. 3 Chevrolet team is fifth in the Camping World Truck Series owner championship point standings, with the No. 62 team 13th in the standings.
  • According to NASCAR's Post-Race Loop Data Statistics, Dillon was the Fastest Driver Late in a Run, earned the second-best Driver Rating (123.7), had the second-best Green-Flag Speed, was the third-Fastest on Restarts and fifth-Fasted Driver Early in a Run.
  • Gaughan completed 59 Green-Flag Passes, 26 which came while running in the top-15 (Quality Passes).
  • RCR teammates posted 49 of the Fastest Laps Run. Dillon earned 38 second-most of all competitors, while Gaughan posted 11.
  • James Buescher took the checkered flag and was followed to the line by Ross Chastain, Dillon, Johnny Sauter and Darrell Wallace Jr.
  • The next scheduled Camping World Truck Series race is the 225 at Chicagoland Speedway on Friday, Sept. 13. The 16th race of the 2013 season is scheduled to be televised live on Fox Sports 1 beginning at 8:30 p.m. Eastern Time and broadcast live on Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.




Dillon Fights Back to Finish Third at Iowa


Despite battling alternator issues throughout the second portion of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Iowa Speedway, Ty Dillon and the No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet team earn a third-place result. After starting from the fifth spot, crew chief Marcus Richmond instructed the 21-year-old driver to stay on the racing surface during the lap 38 caution period to assume the lead on the ensuing restart. Dillon led the race until lap 80 when he was called to pit road under green-flag conditions for his first pit stop of the day for four tires and fuel. When Dillon returned to the track, he was scored 22nd, one lap down to the leader. When green flag pit stops began on lap 127, the Richard Childress Racing team gained their lap back and resumed the race lead. Trouble struck on lap 135 when the black and orange Chevrolet lost battery voltage. While under caution, the Richmond-led pit crew changed left-side tires and the battery. Dillon returned to pit road in the following lap for fresh right-side tires. He restarted 13th on lap 141 and maneuvered through the field, moving up to fifth by lap 179. Alternator issues continued to plaque the young driver forcing him to turn off all of his brake fans that kept his tires cool which made the No. 3 machine tight. Dillon survived two green-white-checkered attempts and battled through low battery voltage during the final laps to finish third at Iowa Speedway.


Start - 5         Finish - 3          Laps Led - 46          Points - 3



"Man, what a day. Our alternator broke halfway through the race, so I couldn't use any of my fans. That really hurt our tires, and we couldn't get back up there to contend for the win. This Bass Pro Shops team has a lot to be proud of. We're going to keep our heads up and go get us another win."





Late-Race Incident Relegates Gaughan to a 24th-Place Finish at Iowa Speedway


Brendan Gaughan and the No. 62 South Point Hotel & Casino team brought home a 24th-place result Sunday afternoon at Iowa Speedway after battling handling issues, surviving a blown tire and being involved in a late-race incident. The Las Vegas native started the scheduled 200-lap event from the fourth position and battled an extremely tight-handing Chevrolet during the initial race run. Following a visit to pit road under caution for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment, Gaughan made his way toward the front of the field settling into the second spot on lap 80. While running in the front of the pack, the Richard Childress Racing driver radioed to the Shane Wilson-led team that he had a flat right-front tire, forcing them to make an unscheduled pit stop on lap 115 under green-flap condition for repairs. Gaughan returned to the track a lap down to the leader, but was able to regain a position on the lead lap as green-flag pit stops cycled through the field, and moved back into the top 10 by lap 128. A timely caution followed, allowing the South Point Hotel & Casino pit crew to work on a brake issue caused by the blown tire. Gaughan returned to the track in the 12th position, and worked his way into the top 10 during the final laps when he connected with another competitor during the first attempt at a green-white-checkered finish, relegating the team to a 24th-place finish. Following the race at the America's Place to Race, Gaughan dropped two positions, to 10th, in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver championship point standings.


Start - 4         Finish - 24          Laps Led - 0          Points - 10th



"The South Point Hotel & Casino team worked extremely hard and certainly earned their pay today. It seemed like if it could go wrong today it did, luck just wasn't on our side. We had a good run going at the end, and I thought we were going to be able to salvage a decent finish. I tried to get too much during the restart and ended up connecting with the 18, taking us both out of the race. Certainly not the way we wanted to end the day."



Johnny Sauter's crew chief Dennis Connor and their No. 98 Carolina Nut Co. / Curb Records Toyota team would probably revolt if Sauter got his latest wish, but it's a fact in their last two completed NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races Sauter's come from last-to-fourth, including Sunday's conversion in the Fan Appreciation 200 presented by New Holland at Iowa Speedway.


"We started last at Bristol and finished fourth and we started last again (Sunday) and finished fourth again," Sauter said. "We had a long way to go to get here, but my ThorSport guys just never give up and I love them for that. We were solid in the pits and we needed that.

"We broke a sway-bar arm in qualifying and had to fix that (Sunday) morning and that sent us to the rear for the start, but I told the guys after the race that maybe this is our deal. I'm just proud of everybody at ThorSport Racing, Carolina Nut Company, Curb Records... The Triad motor was good, Goodyear tires were good -- I just want to thank everybody at TRD and Toyota that supports us..."

After a devastating DNF at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park Sauter's bunch rebounded well after their Iowa weekend seemed to be in the dumpster. The truck didn't practice well and qualified only 25th after Connor and his men made change after change.

"We just -- for whatever reason, I couldn't get any speed (Saturday) -- we struggled mightily, I guess you could say," Sauter said. "We were just off all day, but I could run the same speed. Sometimes that's not necessarily a bad thing, especially when it's hot and slick."


But in the end, the change enabled by the broken part was the key. Sauter started 32nd and arrowed into 20th in the first 15 laps. Soon after, keyed by a good pit stop Sauter restarted 12th at lap 44 after the race's first caution.


Sauter rolled into 10th at lap 78 of the originally-scheduled 200 and was a fixture in the top-10 for the rest of the race. He even had a chance to win the race. A lot of slicing and dicing, which led to four restarts in the last 22 laps, including 12 laps of

"overtime" and three attempts at green-white-checkered finishes, left him in fourth at the end.   


"It's another top-five at Iowa," Sauter said. "This is just a great racetrack for me and ThorSport. I just wish we could win here, one time. We just have solid trucks and this place just reminds me of Richmond, which is one of my favorites and statistically it's one of my best.

"This is eight (career) races here and we've got seven top-fives and Matt (Crafton) had the best average finish in the series coming into this race. We both always seem to run well here so I wouldn't care if we raced here 10 times a year."

That's not going to happen, as the series next races at Chicagoland Speedway on Friday, as part of a NASCAR tripleheader that kicks-off the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Sauter has plenty of positive vibes to take out of Iowa, to a 1.5-mile track -- a style venue on which he also thrives.

"Our restarts were pretty solid (Sunday) and we had a good truck, but track position was everything," Sauter said. "We just fought hard all day and had a truck that I felt like, on long runs, was one of the best trucks. We had a decent restart there at the end and we'll take a fourth-place finish.

"Like I said, we were not where we wanted to be all weekend but I'm just proud of everybody for sticking in there and working hard. If you would have told me (Sunday) morning that we were gonna finish fourth I would've said 'yeah, right...'" But it worked out."

The most important aspect of the finish was that it put Sauter back into eighth in the standings, now just 30 points out of fifth, and 104 behind championship leader Crafton. And Sauter tipped that he might have a new favorite truck, currently outfitted in the "sea salt and pepper" peanuts' blue-and-black colors.

"ThorSport obviously builds great trucks -- everybody back at the shop and on the road crew does a great job," Sauter said. "This is my favorite truck, now because my favorite truck got killed in Charlotte (in May). So this is my new favorite truck and we're going to beat it out a little, polish it up and bring it to Chicago and try to run the heck out it."
Thorsport PR

Matt Crafton and his No. 88 Jeld-Wen / Menards Toyota team Sunday exercised extraordinary willpower -- for the latest time this season -- and with it grabbed a seventh-place finish in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' Fan Appreciation 200 presented by New Holland at Iowa Speedway.

Crafton survived four restarts and a dwindling fuel supply in the race's last 22 laps -- though 12 of them were in an "overtime" period, including three attempts at a green-white-checkered finish.

In the end, he scored his 15th consecutive top-10 finish this season, remaining the only series competitor with that achievement.

But the downside was Crafton did see his points lead diminish as defending Truck Series champion James Buescher won his second race in his last four starts, which enabled him to unofficially cut Crafton's point lead by 10, to 37 points with seven races remaining.

Crafton and his ThorSport Racing teammate, Johnny Sauter came to Iowa this weekend with two of the best statistical records in the Truck Series' short history at the .875-mile oval. But both men struggled with their trucks' handling until the green flag fell on the 15th of 22 Truck races this season.

Crafton started 12th and immediately raced into sixth, but could never mount an assault on the top-five, even though once Crafton's Tundra got there, as it did several times through pit cycles and caution flags, it was solid enough to stay there.

The way the race had cycled, it appeared Crafton was locked-into a finish in the latter half of the top 10, until some pushing and shoving and moving and shaking started, with the race's fourth caution at lap 189 of the originally-scheduled 200, when rookies Jeb Burton and Brandon Jones spun in Turn 4.

Two more restarts saw Crafton move into fifth. His crew chief, Carl "Junior" Joiner had let him know he had less than 10 laps of fuel left shortly after crossing 200 laps -- the race's original distance. And that's when it got crazy.

"I got put in some positions I didn't want to be in on those restarts," said Crafton, who was well aware of where Buescher was. "But man -- I just couldn't give up any more points.

 "That one (re-) start, Johnny (Sauter) and I were three-wide -- I was in the middle -- and I got hit in the rear quarter and I was like 'here we go...' But we survived and we'll go on and get after them at Chicagoland."

Crafton and the Truck Series will next race at Chicagoland Speedway, on Friday as a NASCAR tripleheader that's part of the opening weekend of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Earlier this season Crafton ran a Richard Childress Racing Nationwide Series car at Chicagoland and scored his second top-10 finish in as many career starts in that series.

Crafton, who's led the Truck Series standings for the last 11 races, has two hopes, looking ahead. First, that his truck's working better and if it is, that there's not as much excitement in the stretch run.

"I had a push trying to get to the middle of the corner," Crafton said of his late race angst at Iowa. "My Tundra worked the best if I could open-up an arc getting into the corner and then really mash the gas coming up off (the corner).

"But on those restarts at the end you had to defend your position and come into the corner shallower and that would just bog you down trying to get off the corner."

Thorsport PR

With the season on the line to qualify for the Chase playoffs, Kurt Busch and the Denver-based Furniture Row Racing saved the best for last, and in the process made history.
Thanks to an impressive season-best runner-up finish in the final pre-Chase race Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway, Busch secured a post-season playoff berth. The feat will go into the record books as the first driver from a single-car team to qualify for the Chase since the 10-race, 12-driver championship format began in 2004.
“It’s an amazing feeling to go up against these big teams and to put a little lone Chevrolet from Colorado into the Chase against the big boys,” said Busch, who is now a seven-time Chase participant.
Team owner Barney Visser was equally elated during a post-race news conference.
“I don’t know if it’s a dream come true as much as I’m kind of in awe of Kurt and Joe (Garone, general manager) and the whole team and what these guys have been able to do,” said Visser. “They put in a lot of hard work and a lot of hours and it’s incredible what they were able to do.”
Busch ended the 26-race regular season eighth in driver points, but was reseeded to 10th. Each Chase driver starts with 2000 points, An additional three points are awarded to drivers (excluding the two wildcard entries) for each victory during the first 26 races.  
Matt Kenseth, a five-time season winner, heads into the Chase as the leader with 2015 points, 15 more than Busch. The first Chase race is next Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill.  (See Chase standings below)
Busch’s performance in the pressure-cooker race was nearly flawless. He started on the outside and his No. 78 Furniture Row/Beautyrest Chevrolet rode in the top-five for almost the entire 400 laps. He also led five different times for 73 laps.
The second-place result was Busch’s eighth top-five and 13th top-10 finish of the season.
“This feels incredible,” said Busch, the 2004 NASCAR champion. “The way that we worked together as a team – it’s amazing that we have come this far and put ourselves in this position. We came close tonight, but haven’t won a race yet this year.
“I was happy to guide the ship, but I had a great skipper, the way that Todd Berrier (crew chief) led this group into the off season last year and the way Todd  followed Barney Visser’s dream. We are in the Chase and we have a shot at the championship so we are not done yet. It feels great to deliver and to achieve something very special tonight.”
The Federated Auto Parts 400 race winner was Carl Edwards. Rounding out the top-10 in order were: Busch, Ryan Newman, Jamie McMurray, Paul Menard, Matt Kenseth, Martin Truex Jr., Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
The race had 17 lead changes among nine drivers and five cautions for 29 laps.

Kasey Kahne is in NASCAR’s Chase for the Sprint Cup, but before the veteran driver turns his first lap in the Chase, he will wheel a Sprint Cup car through downtown Roanoke.

As part of a nationwide kickoff celebrating the Chase for the Sprint Cup, Kahne will appear in Roanoke Wednesday and drive a Sprint Cup car down Jefferson Street, across Campbell Avenue and onto the Historic Roanoke City Market where he will be met by the Patrick Henry High School marching band, cheerleaders and a crowd of fans. The excitement begins at 11 a.m.

The event is presented by Martinsville Speedway, which hosts the seventh race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup, the Goody’sHeadache Relief Shot 500 Powered by Kroger on October 27.

Kahne is seeded 11th in the 12-driver Chase field. The 10-year Sprint Cup veteran nailed down one of two wildcard spots in the Chase by virtue of his two victories in 2013. The first 10 spots in the Chase field were awarded to the top 10 drivers in the point standings after Saturday night’s race. The final two positions went to the two drivers with the most victories on the year that weren’t among the top 10 in points.

Kahne, who finished 14th in Saturday night’s race, believes his team has what it takes to win his first Sprint Cup championship.

“I would say the majority of the season we’ve had as much speed as anybody, and if we can put that together for nine or 10 of these next 10, we’ll definitely have a shot,” said Kahne, who has 16 career Sprint Cup victories.

After driving the Sprint Cup car onto the Historic Roanoke City Market Wednesday, Kahne will be greeted on a stage in front of Center In The Square by Martinsville Speedway President Clay Campbell, Roanoke City Mayor David Bowers, and Jaclyn Roney, Miss Sprint Cup. He will accept a proclamation from Bowers, address the crowd and conduct a question-and-answer session with the fans.

“We are very excited to bring Kasey Kahne to Roanoke to visit with all the great fans in the area,” said Campbell. “We invite everyone to come out Wednesday and help us kick off the Chase and have a great time. We want the day to be a big celebration of racing in the Roanoke Valley.”

Martinsville Speedway PR

Jeff Green and the No 14 Hefty®/Reynolds® team finished 22nd in Friday night’s 1,000th NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Richmond Int’l Raceway.  The team not only rallied back from receiving heavy left-front fender and side damage, but also put themselves in position for a top-20 finish from being two laps down to the race leader late in the race.  However, on the final restart with six laps remaining, tire issues came into play and Green slipped two positions to finish the Virginia 529 College Savings 250 in the 22nd position.  With this finish, the TriStar Motorsports team took back the 22ndposition in the NASCAR Owner Standings after slipping one spot last weekend.

Starting from the 20th position, Green was able to maintain the spot in the first 25 laps, despite battling a car that was loose on entry and tight through the center of the turns. By lap 54, he slipped to the 24th position.  A welcomed caution on lap 66 allowed the team to bring the silver and blue Reynolds Wrap® Camry to pit road for four tires, fuel, and adjustments to help the car’s handling condition.  In spite of advancing their position on pit road, the team received a tire violation penalty, and as a result, had to restart the race from the tail end of the field in the 24th position.

On the restart, Green quickly began working his way through the lap-down cars and by lap 112, he was almost back to racing the cars on the lead lap.  Unfortunately, he ran out of time as the leaders passed him on lap 131, placing him one lap down.  An untimely caution two laps later trapped the Owensboro, KY native one lap down to the race leader.  Continuing to battle a car that was extremely tight in the center of the turns, Green brought the car to the attention of the crew where they changed four tires, added fuel, and made additional air-pressure and chassis adjustments in hopes of helping the No. 14 Camry turn better in the center of the turns.  On the lap 138 restart, Green was scored in the 24th position.

Over the next 30 laps, the car’s handling changed from being too tight in the center to being extremely loose on entry, so Crew Chief Todd Myers went to work forming a game plan behind pit wall with the team. On lap 171, spotter Stevie Reeves informed Green to watch out for the No. 55 car who was coming across the track headed for pit road.  Unfortunately, when Green got to the outside of the car, the No. 55 decided not to enter pit road and made a sharp right turn into the left-front fender and side of the No. 14 Camry, thus bringing out the event’s fourth caution on lap 172.  Green visited pit road twice during the caution period to receive repairs on the car and also to get four fresh tires and fuel.  When the race resumed on lap 180, Green was scored in the 25th position, one lap down to the race leader.

As the race continued, Green was able to work his way up to the 23rd position, despite the loose-handling condition and the left-side damage to the Reynolds Wrap® Camry; but on lap 228, the leaders had once again caught the 51-year-old driver and put him two laps down.  The team decided to take a gamble as the yellow flag waved again on lap 229 and remain on track to receive the wave around.  When the race resumed on lap 234, Green was scored in the 23rd position, one lap down to the race leader.

The gamble paid off as another caution flag waved two laps later making Green the recipient of the “lucky dog” award.  As a result, the team was able to return to the lead lap and restart the event from the tail end of the field in the 22nd position. 

With only 11 laps remaining in the event when the race resumed, it looked as though Green would have to settle on a 22nd-place finish since there wasn’t much time to pass all of the lap-down cars that were between him and the lead cars.  However, on lap 240, several cars tangled bringing out the final caution flag of the evening.  This allowed Green to move ahead of the lap-down cars for the final restart. When the race resumed with six laps remaining, Green was scored in the 20th position.

Looking to secure another solid top-20 finish, it quickly became evident that it wasn’t in the cards for the Hefty®/Reynolds® team as newer tires outran  older tires on the restart and as a result, Green slipped two positions in the final laps to finish the Virginia 529 College Savings 250 in the 22nd position.

Driver, Jeff Green Quotes:

“We had a decent car tonight, but I’m just bummed we were not able to get the finish we deserved.  We overcame a lot of obstacles and for that I am proud of the team, but in the end, we were on older tires and some of the guys behind us had newer tires so I didn’t have the grip I needed to secure that top-20 finish.”   


Race Highlights:

  • Richard Childress Racing teammates finished fifth (Paul Menard), 11th (Kevin Harvick), and 18th (Jeff Burton) in the Federated Auto Parts 400.
  • Following the event at Richmond International Raceway, Harvick is tied for the fourth seed in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, six markers out of the lead, while Menard is 17th in the driver championship point standings and Burton sits 22nd.
  • The No. 29 Chevrolet SS team ranks fourth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series owner championship point standings, with the No. 27 team 18th in the standings and the No. 31 team 24th.
  • According to NASCAR's Post-Race Loop Data Statistics, Menard was the ninth-Fastest Driver Late in a Run.
  • Menard posted the eighth-fastest Speed in Traffic.
  • Completing 38 passes while running in the top 15, Harvick was fourth in the loop data category of Quality Passes.
  • Harvick gained two positions during the final 10 percent (40 laps) of the 400-lap event, ranking him sixth in the Closers category and was the sixth-Fastest Driver Late in a Run.
  • With a 9.185 Average Running Position, Burton held the eighth-best average position of the 43-car field.
  • Burton spent 84.5 percent of the 400-lap race running in the top 15 (338 laps).
  • Carl Edwards earned his second victory of the 2013 Sprint Cup Series season and was followed to the finish line by Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Jamie McMurray and Menard.
  • The next Sprint Cup Series race is the GEICO 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday, Sept. 15. The 27th race of the 2013 season is scheduled to be televised live on ESPN beginning at 1 p.m. Eastern Time and broadcast live on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Satellite Radio, channel 90.

2011 CC Team Icon 27 NSCS Menards   

Menard Earns a Fifth-Place Finish Under the Lights at Richmond International Raceway


Paul Menard and the No. 27 Pittsburgh Paints/Menards team brought home a fifth-place finish after starting from the 22nd position Saturday evening at Richmond International Raceway. Throughout the opening segment of the 400-lap event, the Eau Claire, Wis., native reported that his Chevrolet was free in and needed better drive off the corners. While running in the 21st position, Crew chief "Slugger" Labbe called the No. 27 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver to pit road on lap 92 for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment under green-flag conditions. The evening's first caution flag was displayed on lap 135, allowing Menard to pit for a second time taking four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment. During the next lengthy green-flag run, Menard moved inside the top-15. Throughout the evening, the crew continued to adjust the handling on the Pittsburgh Paints/Menards Chevrolet SS allowing Menard to turn the fastest lap times of the field. By lap 341 he was shown in the fifth position and charging forward. For the final 50 laps the Richard Childress Racing driver battled inside the top five. Labbe brought Menard to pit road for right-side tires only when the caution flag waved with eight laps remaining, giving him the lead for the green-white-checkered finish. Menard ultimately brought home a fifth-place result and his second top-five finish of the 2013 season. Menard remains 17th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings heading into the next race at Chicagoland Speedway.


Start - 22         Finish - 5         Laps Led - 3         Points - 17th



"We had a great Pittsburgh Paints/Menards Chevrolet tonight. We started out a little loose but, "Slugger" (Labbe, crew chief) called for the right adjustments all night and we got dialed in to run up front. We tried strategy in hopes of bringing home a win, but two tires couldn't hold off the guys with four. I'm proud of our efforts this weekend in the garage and on pit road. I'm looking forward to Chicagoland (Speedway) next week."



Harvick Finishes 11th at Richmond International Raceway


Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Budweiser team collected an 11th-place finish under the lights of Richmond International Raceway on Saturday night after battling handling issues and experiencing an untimely caution. The California native started the 400-lap event from the 17th position and fell back into the top 20 during the early laps as he battled handling issues on the red and white Chevrolet. The Gil Martin-led pit crew made multiple chassis adjustments during routine four-tire pit stops on laps 91 and 137 to improve the handling of the car. As the race progressed, Harvick worked his way into the second position on lap 307, but a powerful run was halted by bad luck when the caution flag was displayed while the No. 29 Chevrolet was on pit road for a scheduled pit stop on lap 342. Harvick returned to the track in the 15th position, one lap down to the leader. Before going back to green-flag racing, the Richard Childress Racing driver took the "wave around" and returned to the lead lap in the 14th position for the ensuing restart. Harvick slowly worked his way forward during the final laps, ultimately crossing the finish line 11th. Harvick is tied with Carl Edwards for the fourth seed heading into the first event of the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup at Chicagoland Speedway.


Start - 17         Finish - 11         Laps Led - 0         Points - 4th



"Well, if the caution didn't come out I feel like we could have won the race tonight. The Budweiser Chevrolet was really good, but we had made a lot of adjustments. The car was just really loose to start the race, so when you can do things to adjust your car and take it from a 25th-place car to a winning car in the same night, that's a sign that things are going to be okay. We are as good as we've ever been, and hopefully we can continue to get better over the next few weeks. I'm just really proud of everybody for their work tonight."





2011 CC Team Logo NSCS 31 CAT

Untimely Caution-Flag Period Thwarts Burton's Top-Five Run  

at Richmond International Raceway


Jeff Burton and the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet team finished 18th at Richmond International Raceway after an untimely caution-flag period trapped the Richard Childress Racing driver one lap down to the leader late in the race. Starting the 400-lap affair from the 19th position, Burton entered the top 15 early and was scored in seventh place after a fast pit stop by the Caterpillar pit crew on lap 91. Finding speed on multiple long green-flag runs, the 21-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winner cracked the top five by the halfway point of the 300-mile event. Burton maintained a top-five running position throughout the majority of the race, running as high as third while turning some of the fastest laps in the 43-car field. After making a routine four-tire pit stop on lap 339 under green-flag conditions, disaster struck when Jimmie Johnson made contact with the outside retaining wall, bringing out the yellow flag. The untimely caution-flag period trapped Burton one lap down to the leader and forced the 46-year-old driver to take the "wave around" and earn his lap back under caution. Restarting 15th, Burton reported handling issues as the black and yellow machine was trapped in heavy traffic and the RCR driver battled hard to an 18th-place finish when the checkered flag was displayed. Burton remains 22nd in the Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings.


Start - 19          Finish - 18          Laps Led - 0           Points - 22nd



"That's the story of our season right there. We had a top-five effort taken away from us with bad luck in the form of an untimely caution. I am proud of the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet team. We will keep working hard until the end of the season and try to get to Victory Lane."

Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), was in contention not only to win the Federated Auto Parts 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Saturday night at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway but also to lock himself into the 2013 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field. But a controversial late-race caution foiled the victory and the second wild-card position for Newman, leaving him outside the 2013 championship battle.

Newman and Martin Truex Jr. tied for the second wild card with one race victory each and the same number of points. With the first tiebreaker being number of second-place finishes, Truex won by virtue of a having one, earned in April at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, to Newman’s zero.

“We didn’t expect to make up for everything that we didn’t get in the first 25 races in the last race, but we were in position,” Newman said. “We were in a position to take that second wild card with two wins. It’s disappointing. But we’ll go on. The Quicken Loans Chevrolet was good, no doubt. Matt (Borland, crew chief) and the guys did a good job making it fast. In the end, I’m proud of the guys. We came from nowhere this year to be in this position. If it wasn’t for that last caution, we would be in the Chase.”

Newman started 24th in the 43-car field, and despite battling a tight-handling racecar was able to hold his position until he came to pit road for a green-flag stop on lap 96. Crew chief Matt Borland called for a track bar adjustment when 2003 Richmond winner Newman came to the attention of the Quicken Loans crew. Newman continued to struggle with a combination of an ill-handling racecar and a lack of track position but was able to shave time from his deficit to the race leader.

Borland continued to call for minor adjustments each time Newman hit pit road, which allowed him to continue advancing toward the front of the field.

As the laps came to a close, Newman raced his way to the front of the field on lap 391. When Clint Bowyer spun to bring out the caution flag on lap 394, Newman led the field to pit road for the final stops of the night. A slow stop by the No. 39 team saw Newman drop from first to fifth, but Quicken Loans driver Newman gained two positions over the final three laps to finish third.

“We came down pit road first,” Newman said. “Carl (Edwards) came off pit road second. We should have been at least second at that point. We didn’t do our job on pit road. Four tires won the race. We were the first car to be in position on four tires, and we didn’t get the job done. We did everything we needed to up until the last caution. I’m not sure exactly what unfolded there. We still had the opportunity to win it on pit road, and we didn’t. Coming from fifth to third in a couple laps is not bad. But we had to win, so it’s disappointing.”

Newman’s SHR teammate Mark Martin, interim driver of SHR’s No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS as he subs for the injured Tony Stewart, finished ninth. It was Martin’s 31st top-10 in 56 career Sprint Cup starts at the .75-mile oval.

Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 30th in her 36th career Sprint Cup start and her second at Richmond. Patrick, who is competing for Rookie of the Year honors against Ricky Stenhouse Jr., finished 20 spots behind Stenhouse, who placed 10th for his first career top-10.

Carl Edwards won the Federated Auto Parts 400 to score his 21st career Sprint Cup victory, his second of the season and his first at Richmond.

Kurt Busch finished .668 of a second behind Edwards in the runner-up spot, while Newman, Jamie McMurray and Paul Menard rounded out the top-five. Matt Kenseth, Truex, Jeff Gordon, Martin and Stenhouse comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were five caution periods for 29 laps, with three drivers failing to finish the 400-lap race.

Richmond marked the last race of the regular season, as the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup begins.

The top-10 drivers in points are eligible to compete in the Chase, along with two wild-card drivers – Kasey Kahne and Truex – who were admitted to the Chase field by having the most wins among the drivers who were between 11th and 20th in the standings. NASCAR recalibrated the points for the 12 drivers as soon as the Richmond race was over, with each driver getting 2,000 points. With the exception of wild-card entrants Kahne and Truex, drivers also received three bonus points for each of their respective wins during the 26-race regular season. For drivers starting the Chase with identical point totals, their seed was determined by the traditional tiebreaker of best finishes beyond race victories.



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