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ThatsRacin.com


Race Rewind: Looking back at the Federated Auto Parts 400

- jutter@charlotteobserver.com
Sunday, Sep. 08, 2013

Observations

• NASCAR has a big problem. The in-car audio and video surrounding Clint Bowyer’s spin with seven laps remaining in Saturday night’s race clearly show to all but the most ardent Bowyer fans that the spin took place to help prevent Ryan Newman from winning. If Newman had won, he would’ve been in the Chase and Bowyer’s teammate at Michael Waltrip Racing, Martin Truex Jr., would’ve been out. The credibility of the sport is being openly questioned, and so far NASCAR has declined to address the issue. Apparently in NASCAR’s eyes, that stigma and the controversy that comes with it are not as bad as admitting such team orders actually take place.

• Here is the issue with the restart controversy: The rule governing restarts is written as black and white, but officials are enforcing it as a judgment call. It’s difficult for fans – and even drivers – to understand how a rule, which clearly prohibits the second-place car from beating the first-place car to the line, somehow can be open to interpretation. NASCAR would be well served in its planned review of its rulebook to rewrite or at least reword its restart rule to incorporate the sort of leeway it obviously is utilizing.

• It will be interesting to see how some drivers who failed to make the Chase react during the coming weeks on the track, given the controversy surrounding the circumstances which prevented their participation.

Notebook

Michael Waltrip Racing is back : For the second consecutive season, Michael Waltrip Racing has two drivers in the Chase.

Bowyer was locked in before Saturday night’s race and Truex Jr. earned the second of two wild-card entries.

Truex seemed clearly surprised he made it considering how much difficulty he and his team had during the race. He finished seventh.

“I’m speechless. I don’t even know what to say,” Truex said. “We were terrible. I mean, just terrible, terrible on long runs and we fought and we fought.”

Let’s hear it for the little guy: Furniture Row Racing became the first single-car team to earn a spot in the Chase.

“I want to thank (team manager) Joe Garoni, who we built the team around eight years ago. He’s collected all these people,” said team owner Barney Visser.

“Everybody has just been putting in a lot of hours this year. I think the road crew put in several 100-hour weeks testing. It’s all kind of paid off here.”

Johnson has a tough day : Jimmie Johnson, who became a father for the second time Friday, might have had more important things on his mind, but he won’t soon forget Saturday night’s race.

Johnson, who missed Friday practice and qualifying for the birth of his second daughter, Lydia, had to start from the rear of the field. His No.48 Chevrolet didn’t handle well and twice he needed to take it to the garage to fix an electrical issue.

“Things did not go well. We would literally wear the right front tire off the car as the night would go on,” he said.

Stenhouse earns first top-10 : Ricky Stenhouse Jr. earned the first top-10 of his Cup career, finishing 10that Richmond.

Five key moments

1 . Pole-winner Jeff Gordon leads the first 49 laps.

2 . Brad Keselowski takes the lead for the first time on Lap 50 and ends up leading the most laps in the race (142).

3 . A caution comes out on Lap 345 just after several lead-lap cars make green-flag pit stops, which greatly shuffles the field. Carl Edwards takes over the lead for the first time on the restart on Lap 348.

4 . Clint Bowyer spins with seven laps remaining and Ryan Newman in the lead. All the lead-lap cars pit, with Paul Menard restarting in the lead and Newman fifth.

5 . Edwards appears to jump the start with three laps remaining but no penalty comes from NASCAR. He holds off Kurt Busch to win.

Next race

Geico 400

Where: Chicagoland Speedway, Joliet, Ill.

When: 2 p.m. Sunday.

TV: ESPN

Radio: Motor Racing Network

Last year’s winner: Brad Keselowski