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Race Rewind: Looking back at the Toyota Owners 400

- jutter@charlotteobserver.com
Sunday, Apr. 28, 2013

Observations

• So many variables have led to crazy finishes this season and Saturday night at Richmond was just another example. When the final caution came out with five laps remaining, it seemed likely the race was headed to a two-lap overtime. And yet all but three of the 26 cars on the lead lap still elected to hit pit road for tires – a move virtually unheard of even a year ago. The strategy calls likely provide migraines for crew chiefs but they certainly spice up the racing.

• Kevin Harvick provided Richard Childress Racing with his first win of the season but all three cars performed well Saturday night. Jeff Burton led on the final restart and ended up finishing fifth while teammate Paul Menard finished 13th. Thus far this season, Menard has been the most consistent of the three drivers with four Top-10 finishes.

• Next weekend’s restrictor-plate race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway will likely be a welcome visit for Danica Patrick, who struggled Saturday night. She ended up 29th and finished four laps down at Richmond. The season-opening Daytona 500 provided Patrick’s best performance of the year – she won the pole and finished eighth for her only Top-10 finish of the season.

Notebook

Montoya with a near-miss: It’s been a rough start to the 2013 season for Juan Pablo Montoya, whose previous best finish this year was 12th. He’s had six finishes of 20th or worse.

Saturday night, he nearly earned his first win on an oval track but a fourth-place finish still will do nicely.

"I felt like last week we had a top-five car as well, but not quite a car to win,” Montoya said. “I think this weekend ... we came here and tested, and the guys did an amazing job, and we had a good car all weekend."

Almirola on a roll: Aric Almirola finished eighth on Saturday night, his third consecutive Top-10 finish – a career-best run in the Cup series.

“That was incredible and a lot of hard work – a great day by our guys who never gave up,” said Almirola, who is now 11th in points, 13 behind 10th-place Paul Menard. “That is what it takes in this series. You cannot give up.”

Johnson widens lead: Jimmie Johnson struggled much of the night but managed to finish 12th. His performance was still enough to pad his lead in the series points standings.

After nine races, Johnson holds a 43-point lead – nearly an entire race – over Carl Edwards, who jumped four spots following his sixth place finish.

Kurt Busch earns another Top-10: Kurt Busch led 36 laps and was running third place when the final caution came out. After pitting for four fresh tires Busch restarted 10th and ended up ninth.

"I was disappointed when that last yellow came out because I knew it was going to be a free-for-all with everyone fighting for track position," said Busch. "I got hit from behind and everybody was slamming everybody. It was chaos.”

5 key moments

1. For the first half, the Toyota-sponsored race looked like it would have a Toyota race winner as Clint Bowyer and Matt Kenseth combined to lead the first 253 laps.

2. Kyle Busch moved out front on Lap 254 and appeared set to contend for the win but got caught up in a wreck on Lap 328, which did considerable damage to his car.

3. Juan Pablo Montoya cycled into the lead on Lap 330 when he was one of eight drivers not to pit when the rest of the lead-lap cars did.

4. With 18 laps remaining in the scheduled distance, Kevin Harvick made his way into second behind Juan Pablo Montoya. A caution with five laps remaining bunched the field one final time.

5. Jeff Burton led the way at the start of the two-lap overtime on Lap 405 but his older tires couldn’t keep up. Harvick, who restarted seventh, passed six cars on the first lap and held off Bowyer for the win.

Next race

Aaron’s 499

Where: Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway

When: 1 p.m. Sunday

TV: Fox

Radio: Motor Racing Network

Last year’s winner: Brad Keselowski

Toyota Owners 400

Saturday at Richmond International Raceway

Lap length: .75 miles,

(Start position in parentheses)

1. (17) Kevin Harvick, Chevy, 406 laps, $237,311

2. (5) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 406, $196,668

3. (7) Joey Logano, Ford, 406, $161,618

4. (6) Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevy, 406, $147,474

5. (16) Jeff Burton, Chevy, 406, $118,435

6. (28) Carl Edwards, Ford, 406, $141,735

7. (1) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 406, $149,976

8. (34) Aric Almirola, Ford, 406, $126,746

9. (14) Kurt Busch, Chevy, 406, $114,630

10. (19) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevy, 406, $101,585

11. (3) Jeff Gordon, Chevy, 406, $129,671

12. (26) Jimmie Johnson, Chevy, 406, $130,521

13. (29) Paul Menard, Chevy, 406, $115,501

14. (24) A J Allmendinger, Chevy, 406, $109,143

15. (15) Ryan Newman, Chevy, 406, $117,368

16. (12) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 406, $128,046

17. (9) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 406, $112,860

18. (21) Tony Stewart, Chevy, 406, $123,835

19. (32) Bobby Labonte, Toyota, 406, $104,543

20. (20) David Ragan, Ford, 406, $103,518

21. (4) Kasey Kahne, Chevy, 406, $94,585

22. (22) David Reutimann, Toyota, 406, $91,368

23. (18) Dave Blaney, Chevy, 406, $88,957

24. (8) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 406, $121,468

25. (31) Landon Cassill, Chevy, 406, $79,560

26. (13) Jamie McMurray, Chevy, 406, $105,130

27. (37) David Gilliland, Ford, 405, $78,635

28. (27) Josh Wise, Ford, 404, $78,010

29. (30) Danica Patrick, Chevy, 402, $75,385

30. (40) Casey Mears, Ford, 402, $84,710

31. (25) David Stremme, Toyota, 402, $75,085

32. (39) J.J. Yeley, Chevy, 401, $74,935

33. (23) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 398, $128,251

34. (42) Timmy Hill, Ford, 397, $74,685

35. (2) Brian Vickers, Toyota, accident, 392, $94,285

36. (33) Greg Biffle, Ford, 391, $92,305

37. (36) Travis Kvapil, Toyota, 368, $82,170

38. (10) Mark Martin, Toyota, 349, $77,200

39. (41) J. Nemechek, Toyota, vibration, 245, $65,200

40. (43) Bri. Keselowski, Toyota, brakes, 186, $61,200

41. (35) M. McDowell, Ford, brakes, 121, $57,200

42. (11) Marcos Ambrose, Ford, engine, 109, $80,414

43. (38) Mike Bliss, Toyota, brakes, 17, $49,700

Race Statistics: Average Speed of Race Winner: 92.141 mph. Time of Race: 3 hours, 18 minutes, 17 seconds. Margin of Victory: 0.343 seconds. Caution Flags: 11 for 75 laps. Lead Changes: 10 among 7 drivers. Lap Leaders: M.Kenseth 1-36; C.Bowyer 37-42; M.Kenseth 43-111; C.Bowyer 112-218; M.Kenseth 219-253; Ky.Busch 254-293; Ku.Busch 294-329; J.Montoya 330-396; K.Harvick 397; J.Burton 398-404; K.Harvick 405-406. Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Led, Laps Led): M.Kenseth, 3 times for 140 laps; C.Bowyer, 2 times for 113 laps; J.Montoya, 1 time for 67 laps; Ky.Busch, 1 time for 40 laps; Ku.Busch, 1 time for 36 laps; J.Burton, 1 time for 7 laps; K.Harvick, 2 times for 3 laps. Top 12 in Points: 1. J.Johnson, 343; 2. C.Edwards, 300; 3. K.Kahne, 297; 4. D.Earnhardt Jr., 297; 5. C.Bowyer, 290; 6. Bra.Keselowski, 284; 7. Ky.Busch, 278; 8. G.Biffle, 272; 9. K.Harvick, 271; 10. P.Menard, 271; 11. A.Almirola, 258; 12. J.McMurray, 245.

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