Monday, April 30, 2012

Hendrick Garage: Richmond

Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR
Night racing in Richmond, short track racing under the lights, is racing at its finest form. The questions at hand this week: would Hendrick Motorsports get their long awaited 200th win and could another Hendrick driver end their winless streak?


Jeff Gordon, No. 24

When the green flag waved Jeff Gordon had what appeared to be a winning car. The No. 24 car was gaining positions early on and Gordon’s night looked to be headed in the right direction. On Lap 50 NASCAR threw a competition caution for the earlier rain and Gordon's No. 24 team had a solid pit stop and looked to have a great restart. Suddenly Gordon made contact with Greg Biffle and Kurt Busch, causing Gordon’s tire to cut down. Gordon was forced to pit for repairs costing him two laps Gordon spent the reminder of his night fighting for any positions he could get. Jeff Gordon ended the race in 23rd position and now ranks 17th in the point standings.

Kasey Kahne, No. 5

Kasey Kahne’s bad luck appears to have lifted as the past few races Kahne has been getting the finishes he needs.

Kahne spent the night at Richmond in the top ten, and solid pit stops gained Kahne positions to move into the top five for the remainder of the night. Kahne would finish his night fifth and now ranks 23rd in the point standings.

"We were just trying to get forward drive throughout the race and keep it turning in the center, Kahne said on his night. “That was the hard part. It is always the tough at Richmond. We had a pretty good Farmers Insurance Chevrolet."

Jimmie Johnson, No. 48

Starting in the back in 27th would prove to be no issue for Jimmie Johnson, 37 laps into the race he had already gained 10 positions. On Lap 96 Johnson’s charge to the front paid off as he cracked the top ten. The No. 48 crew had a solid pit stop under green which put Johnson fifth when the field reset. On Lap 311 as Johnson hit pit road for his green flag stop, the caution came out. The caution looked to be great timing, however a crew member on the 48 team rolled the tire instead of carrying it. Johnson  received a pit road violation and had to yet again restart from the back. Johnson  yet again made a run to the front and with 76 laps remaining Johnson was back up to 12th. Johnson would finish his night sixth proving why he we call him "Mr. Five Time Champion." Johnson ranks sixth in the point standing.

“We had a couple little incidents there, but things happen – it’s racing,” Johnson said on his roller coaster of a night. “Unfortunately we had a tire get away from us. But the good news is we had a really fast race car, and this track has been hit or miss for us. To have a car that was that strong and passed that many cars all night long, I’m proud of the effort.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. No. 88

Dale Earnhardt Jr’s night kicked off great starting 10th   he was quickly on the move. Earnhardt Jr. was in the top five and looked to have a winning car, on Lap 210 during green flag stops Earnhardt Jr. got blocked in costing him tons of time. The No. 88 team would come off of pit road in 15th but that didn’t slow them down. When the final caution flag came out on Lap 386 Earnhardt Jr. restarted third, Stewart  spun the tires which gave Earnhardt Jr. the motivation to take second. Try as he might, Dale Jr. couldn't gain on leader Kyle Busch. Ending the night in second, Dale Earnhardt Jr. also now ranks second in the points.

“I didn’t have any brakes getting into the corner,” Earnhardt Jr. said on his final restart. “It got real loose locking the rear up. I want to thank National Guard and Diet Mountain Dew. My team had great stops; we gained a lot of spots on pit road.”

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