Clint Bowyer walks to victory lane at Charlotte

Photo credit: Charlotte Bray/Skirts and Scuffs
Clint Bowyer's Chase hopes got a shot of 5-hour ENERGY with a victory under the lights at Charlotte Motor Speedway Saturday night. Points-leader Brad Keselowski's fuel-saving ability fizzled under the blistering pace of the race. The Blue Deuce's tank ran dry on Lap 275, forcing a 22-second pit stop. and Keselowski finished 11th.

Bowyer ran out of Sunoco fuel after taking the checkers, leaving him frustrated at not being able to do a suitable burnout. "Can someone please bring me a gallon of gasoline so I can do a burnout?" said Bowyer.
Photo credit: Charlotte Bray/Skirts and Scuffs

Denny Hamlin settled for a second-place finish He said, "It would be interesting to see how much we had left, to see if we could have let loose the reins a bit sooner and caught the 15." In third, Jimmie Johnson described his race, "We went in a bunch of circles, and we're done. And I made it on fuel."
Greg Biffle started off strong and led 71 laps total, but fuel-conservation mode brought him home fourth. Kyle Busch rounded out the top five.

Even before the race started, the Bank of America 500 drew attention as the first Cup race since late 1979 in which an Earnhardt did not take the green flag. On Thursday, Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced he'd sought treatment after having sustained a concussion in the multi-car crash on the last lap at Talladega and as a result would be out of the No. 88 for the Charlotte and Kansas races. Hendrick Motorsports chose Regan Smith to pinch hit for Earnhardt Jr., which left an open seat in the No. 51 of James Finch, where Smith was slated to start this weekend. AJ Allmendinger, newly reinstated after his suspension, got the call to fill that opening.

Throughout what seemed like the entire race, fuel mileage affected the competition. Three of the five cautions during the night came in the first 40 laps, setting up long green-flag runs later and making it necessary for almost everyone to conserve fuel. Fuel-mileage races rarely generate much excitement, but with so much of the Chase left to run, the front-runners faced intense pressure to finish well. Now only 35 points separate first and fifth place.

Last week's winner, Matt Kenseth, brought out the first caution on Lap 12, spinning without hitting anything. Unfortunately for his championship hopes, Kenseth wasn't able to make up ground through the rest of the race and finished in 14th.

Regan Smith worked well with the No. 88 team but just after taking over 10th place, the AMP Energy/National Guard Chevy blew the engine on Lap 61, ending Smith's night early and giving him a 38th-place finish.  "It’s disappointing. It’s a good team, it’s a good car and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports does a great job. I’m looking forward to next week. We get three days to test when we get there to Kansas and we will see if we can get the AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet up front there."
Photo credit: Charlotte Bray/
Skirts and Scuffs
Allmendinger ran between 20th - 25th most of the night and while a loose tire penalty put him down a lap, the No. 51 finished 24th, two laps down but with all four fenders intact.

In the No. 78 camp, Kurt Busch ran his first race for Furniture Row, a team that's considered a satellite of RCR. Busch finished 21st and experienced the frustrating car handling that's plagued RCR all season.

With 20 lead changes among eight drivers, the Bank of America 500 essentially ended the championship hopes of Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon. Stewart had front-end damage from a minor skirmish but ended up 13th. Gordon's car didn't handle well and he had to serve a pass-through penalty for speeding exiting the pits on Lap 219. His 18th-place finish didn't give him the boost he needed.

The top twelve in points are: (1) B. Keselowski 2,214; (2) J. Johnson 2,207; (3) D. Hamlin 2,199; (4) C. Bowyer 2,186; (5) K. Kahne 2,179; (6) G. Biffle 2,171; (7) M. Truex Jr. 2,165; (8) T. Stewart 2,164; (9) J. Gordon 2,164; (10) K. Harvick 2,158; (11) M. Kenseth 2,147; (12) D. Earnhardt Jr. 2,128.

Complete finishing order:

1 - 15 Clint Bowyer
2 - 11 Denny Hamlin
3 - 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet
4 - 16 Greg Biffle
5 - 18 Kyle Busch
6 - 55 Mark Martin
7 - 99 Carl Edwards
8 - 5 Kasey Kahne
9 - 20 Joey Logano
10 - 56 Martin Truex Jr.
11 - 2 Brad Keselowski
12 - 43 Aric Almirola
13 - 14 Tony Stewart
14 - 17 Matt Kenseth
15 - 22 Sam Hornish Jr.
16 - 29 Kevin Harvick
17 - 1 Jamie McMurray
18 - 24 Jeff Gordon
19 - 42 Juan Montoya
20 - 39 Ryan Newman
21 - 78 Kurt Busch
22 - 21 Trevor Bayne
23 - 38 David Gilliland
24 - 51 AJ Allmendinger
25 - 93 Travis Kvapil
26 - 83 Landon Cassill
27 - 27 Paul Menard
28 - 31 Jeff Burton
29 - 13 Casey Mears
30 - 10 David Reutimann
31 - 98 Michael McDowell
32 - 47 Bobby Labonte
33 - 9 Marcos Ambrose
34 - 34 David Ragan
35 - 6 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
36 - 32 Timmy Hill
37 - 30 David Stremme
38 - 88 Regan Smith
39 - 119 Mike Bliss
40 - 195 Scott Speed
41 - 191 Reed Sorenson
42 - 37 J.J. Yeley
43 - 36 Dave Blaney

Clint Bowyer walks to victory lane at Charlotte Clint Bowyer walks to victory lane at Charlotte Reviewed by Janine Cloud on Sunday, October 14, 2012 Rating: 5