NASCAR Weekend: Clint Bowyer Wins Bank of America 500 and Some Dramas

by - Sunday, October 14, 2012

NASCAR Sprint Cup - Bank of America 500
Bank of America 500 - Charlotte Motor Speedway
It's a NASCAR weekend full of drama, I would say, from even before practice days started up to the post-race media conference. But what's a race weekend without these trappings, right? And I guess all's well that ends well for the #15 team, Michael Waltrip Racing and Clint Bowyer. After all, they bagged the trophy for this particular race. More so for Mr. Bowyer since this is his first ever win in Charlotte. 

NASCAR Sprint Cup - Bank of America 500
Clint Bowyer wins Bank of America 500
Let's recall what happened in the entirety of the Bank of America 500 race (and the pre and post events) held at Charlotte Motor Speedway. But first, the drama surrounding Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s missing this race plus Kansas (who knows, it could be all the remaining races). 

On October 11, 2012 (Thursday, US), Earnhardt along with Team Owner Rick Hendrick (of Hendrick Motorsports) and Crew Chief Steve Letarte announced in a press conference that he will be missing the next two races (Charlotte and Kansas) after being diagnosed with a concussion. If you're following the Sprint Cup races, Junior (as he is famously called) has crashed at the race in Talladega. He walked out unscathed (or so we all thought) and were able to drove off to the garage - even giving teammate Jimmie Johnson a ride.

NASCAR Sprint Cup - Bank of America 500
Dale Jr. on Missing Charlotte and Kansas
Unbeknownst to him, he hasn't fully recovered from that grave crash that happened in a testing in Kansas back in August. He's been suffering from headaches after 'Dega and decided to consult a physician; and he was diagnosed with a concussion and advised to sit out the next two races. The October 13 race is the first race without an Earnhardt starting - since September 1979. I'm sure the entire Junior Nation is feeling down about this latest development. But, here's hoping he gets back to top shape after Kansas. After all, he's Jimmie's teammate and I would still want him to have a better place in the Chase.

So back to the race. Greg Biffle, #16 Ford of Roush Fenway Racing, is the pole sitter for the Bank of America 500 race. Rounding up the top 10 starting line are Mark Martin (#55), Ryan Newman (#39), Clint Bowyer (#15), Jimmie Johnson (#48), Martin Truex Jr. (#56), Matt Kenseth (#17), Kyle Busch (#18), Denny Hamlin (#11) and Kasey Kahne (#5). And Regan Smith will be sitting in the #88 car as substitute for Dale Earnhardt Jr. Notably, this is Mark Martin's 850th start in his Cup career. How depressing would that be for people who keeps on failing to qualify? :D

The race is green at 7:51 PM with Martin and Biffle keeping it side by side until the 5th Lap. The first caution of the night happened at Lap 12 when Matt Kenseth spun in Turn 4. The race is green again at Lap 15; but, just as it was coming out, we got another yellow. Jeff Burton and David Ragan crashed on the frontstretch; Tony Stewart got some damage on the nose of his car. 

On Lap 36, we saw a yellow again as Paul Menard slapped against the wall. At Lap 42, Brad Keselowski took over the lead before Jimmie Johnson got it from him at Lap 75. But before that, we saw #88 car smoking at Lap 62. Aww! That's just too bad. I supposed Regan will be hearing a lot from the Junior fans. You know, they are quite sentimental and are a handful - just read some forums or the comments on Yahoo! Sports or NASCAR website. 

At Lap 87, Brad Keselowski has gained back the top position and has actually led the most laps for the night . When Johnson gave up the points to pit, Denny Hamlin took over the lead at Lap 150. Lap 166 and the 4th caution of the night is out because of some debris in Turn 1. Jimmie opted for only two tires when he pitted and this might have cost him a lot because he continued to fall back up to the 7th place. 

NASCAR Sprint Cup - Bank of America 500
Clint Bowyer (#15) and Jimmie Johnson (#48) during the Bank of America 500 race
At Lap 220, we saw Carl Edwards (#99), Tony Stewart (#14) and Jeff Gordon (#24) pitting. And as if to make matters worst for the #24 team (he's been running outside the top 10), Gordon was slapped with a penalty for speeding on pit road. 

The most admirable driver for the night, I think, would be Smoke. He has gained the most position - 22 of them - during the race. He has fallen way back but managed to be on 7th place at Lap 235; beat-up car and all! Hah! Kyle Busch has been doing great as well; managing to stay in 2nd most of the race. 

And then, it became a fuel mileage race, ladies and gentlemen. Brad Keselowski (#2) ran out of gas at Lap 275 and fell as far back as 13th place. Everybody's just saving fuel to make it all the way to the finish line. Chad Knaus, Crew Chief of #48 even told Johnson that he has to slow down a little to save fuel. But in the end, it was Clint Bowyer who managed to beat the odds and took advantage of the half a second gap he had on  Denny Hamlin. 

NASCAR Sprint Cup - Bank of America 500
Clint Bowyer (#15) after winning the Bank of America 500 race
What a night (morning, in my case)! I feel for Matt Kenseth who's been plagued with problems since the start of the Chase. I'm sure he'll be able to get back on top. Though, not all the way to the top please Matt; that's for Jimmie! :D

All in all, I am pleased with the race's outcome. Jimmie Johnson didn't win but at least Brad Keselowski's not on the podium - and he managed to cut the Chase points lead of BK into half. So, he'll get back on the lead next race - that's what I'm hoping at least. But, no pressure!

See the full race results here and the full Sprint Cup standings here.
Image credits goes to NASCAR.com

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