Clint Bowyer wins wild Richmond regular season finale; Jeff Gordon clinches last wild card

RICHMOND, VA - SEPTEMBER 08: (Top L-R) Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Dodge, Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota, Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet, Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet (bottom L-R) Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, Greg Biffle, driver of the #16 3M/Owens & Minor Ford, Kevin Harvick, driver of the #29 Budweiser Chevrolet, Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Quaker State Chevrolet, Clint Bowyer, driver of the #15 5-hour Energy Toyota, Matt Kenseth, driver of the #17 Best Buy Ford, pose after qualifying for the Chase for the Cup after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway on September 8, 2012 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)




With the Sprint Cup Series race ending at roughly 1:35 a.m. EST on Sunday morning, the recap is a little delayed. But there was just too much to say about the race to not post at all.

Jeff Gordon outlasted Kyle Busch over the second half of the Federated Auto Parts 400, finishing second to race-winner Clint Bowyer, taking the second wild card position by just three points. Busch finished 16th, not good enough to maintain the 12 point advantage he entered Saturday night with.

It was a reversal of fortune for both drivers, as it was the 24 team that struggled in the first half of the race. But Gordon persevered, caught a caution on lap 235, just as he was about to go two laps down and fought his way to a second-place finish.

So wait. How did he go from nearly two laps down to second place and more than 12 positions up on Busch who was running in the top-15 all night long?

It started with the mid-race hour-long rain delay that allowed Gordon and crew chief Alan Gustafson to formulate a plan to repair their ailing race car. Two cautions, a lucky dog, and track position later, Gordon had the fastest car on the track, chasing down a fuel-conserving Bowyer for the lead.

Ultimately, Gordon ran out of laps but bested Busch by 14 spots, good enough for the second wild card.

In a season where accidents and engine failures bit him so often, Busch just wasn't good enough to make the Chase on Saturday. Gordon was and now he's won the right to compete for the Sprint Cup Series championship.

So has Clint Bowyer -- you know, the actual winner of the race. Bowyer's victory is his second of the season and slots him sixth in the reseeded championship standings.

Lost in the wild card dramatics was Bowyer's wild day which included running top-three most of the day, getting spun out on the frontstretch by Juan Pablo Montoya, all before retaking the lead on lap 312, where he would stay for the remainder of the race.

The complete results and video can be found after the jump. Sorry for the delayed and shortened post - it's been one hell of a weekend.

Audiovisual

Highlights: Federated Auto Parts 400 (via FoxSports)

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race Number 26
Unofficial Race Results for the 55Th Annual Federated Auto Parts 400 -
Saturday, September 8, 2012
Richmond International Raceway - Richmond, VA - .75 Mile Paved
Total Race Length - 400 Laps - 300 Miles - Purse: $5,120,084
Fin Str Car Driver Team Laps Pts Bns Driver Rating Winnings Status Tms Laps
1 4 15 Clint Bowyer 5-hour Energy Toyota 400 47 4 126.3 $226,114 Running 1 88
2 2 24 Jeff Gordon Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet 400 43 1 102.2 $203,546 Running 1 2
3 6 55 Mark Martin Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota 400 41 105.8 $128,785 Running
4 28 14 Tony Stewart Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet 400 41 1 104.3 $174,685 Running 1 15
5 17 17 Matt Kenseth Best Buy Ford 400 39 96.5 $152,221 Running
6 20 31 Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet 400 38 87.1 $135,335 Running
7 10 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Dodge 400 37 87.7 $125,530 Running
8 14 39 Ryan Newman Quicken Loans Chevrolet 400 37 1 85.6 $126,218 Running 1 13
9 23 16 Greg Biffle 3M/Owens & Minor Ford 400 35 88.1 $93,885 Running
10 13 29 Kevin Harvick Budweiser Chevrolet 400 34 102.8 $135,096 Running
11 11 22 Sam Hornish Jr.(i) Shell Pennzoil Dodge 400 0 96.9 $122,210 Running
12 21 5 Kasey Kahne Quaker State Chevrolet 399 33 1 106.7 $89,035 Running 1 3
13 5 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet 399 32 1 101.7 $122,296 Running 1 2
14 1 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet 399 31 1 109.5 $92,435 Running 5 67
15 22 9 Marcos Ambrose MAC Tools Ford 399 29 73.5 $106,593 Running
16 15 18 Kyle Busch M&M's Toyota 399 28 81.2 $120,118 Running
17 16 99 Carl Edwards Kellogg's Ford 399 27 78.0 $119,301 Running
18 7 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Express Toyota 399 28 2 125.6 $122,951 Running 5 202
19 12 83 Landon Cassill Burger King Toyota 399 25 60.5 $102,880 Running
20 24 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet 399 24 69.5 $107,476 Running
21 9 56 Martin Truex Jr. NAPA Auto Parts Toyota 399 24 1 99.2 $103,174 Running 1 7
22 26 1 Jamie McMurray Bass Pro Shops/Allstate Chevrolet 398 22 68.6 $106,693 Running
23 25 27 Paul Menard Menards/Moen Chevrolet 398 21 63.6 $83,385 Running
24 3 78 Regan Smith Furniture Row/Farm American Chevrolet 398 20 69.9 $101,293 Running
25 29 47 Bobby Labonte Bush's Beans Toyota 397 19 59.3 $99,568 Running
26 18 43 Aric Almirola Smithfield Ford 397 18 58.2 $111,571 Running
27 32 93 Travis Kvapil Burger King/Dr. Pepper Toyota 397 17 54.2 $96,568 Running
28 30 51 Kurt Busch Phoenix Construction Chevrolet 396 16 55.6 $93,843 Running
29 42 13 Casey Mears GEICO Ford 396 15 49.8 $83,507 Running
30 8 20 Joey Logano The Home Depot Toyota 396 14 60.2 $83,335 Running
31 35 38 David Gilliland Mossy Oak/Pursuit Channel Ford 395 13 44.0 $73,210 Running
32 27 34 David Ragan Taco Bell Ford 395 12 44.9 $70,560 Running
33 33 36 Dave Blaney Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet 395 11 48.2 $70,435 Running
34 37 10 David Reutimann No.10 Inc. 5000-@TMone 6-peat Chevrolet 393 10 44.0 $70,310 Running
35 39 32 Ken Schrader Federated Auto Parts Ford 393 9 36.6 $78,160 Running
36 36 33 Stephen Leicht # Special Ops OPSEC Chevrolet 390 8 35.1 $79,510 Running
37 31 30 David Stremme Inception Motorsports Chevrolet 127 7 31.2 $69,880 Brakes
38 34 87 Joe Nemechek(i) AM/FM Energy Wood & Pellet Stoves Toyota 90 0 36.5 $69,728 Brakes
39 38 23 Scott Riggs North Texas Pipe Chevrolet 78 5 32.5 $66,900 Brakes
40 40 19 Mike Bliss(i) Plinker Tactical Toyota 70 0 29.0 $66,775 Wheel Bearing
41 19 98 Michael McDowell Phil Parsons Racing Ford 63 4 1 35.2 $66,625 Brakes 1 1
42 41 26 Josh Wise # MDS Transport Ford 57 2 24.9 $66,500 Brakes
43 43 91 Reed Sorenson(i) Plinker Tactical Chevrolet 57 0 24.9 $66,860 Power
Race Comments: Before an estimated attendance of 89,000, Clint Bowyer won the Federated Auto Parts 400, his seventh NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory.
Failed to Qualify: (2) 37 JJ Yeley, 0 Mark Green.
Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 59 Mins, 58 Secs. Average Speed: 100.019 MPH Margin of Victory: 1.198 Seconds
Caution Flags: 6 for 41 laps: Laps: 1-6 (Competition [None]); 47-50 (Competition [87]); 53-56 (#34 accident frontstretch [38]); 139-155 (Precipitation [Red Flag: Lap 152; 51:45] [39]); 236-239 (#15 spin frontstretch [31]); 277-282 (Precipitation [24]).
Lead Changes: 17 among 10 drivers: D. Earnhardt Jr. 1-6; J. Gordon 7-8; D. Earnhardt Jr. 9-47; M. McDowell 48; D. Earnhardt Jr. 49-58; D. Hamlin 59-84; D. Earnhardt Jr. 85-93; D. Hamlin 94-155; D. Earnhardt Jr. 156-158; D. Hamlin 159-231; J. Johnson 232-233; D. Hamlin 234-241; M. Truex Jr. 242-248; D. Hamlin 249-281; K. Kahne 282-284; T. Stewart 285-299; R. Newman 300-312; C. Bowyer 313-400.
Top 12 Driver Points: (1) G. Biffle 914;(2) D. Earnhardt Jr. 902;(3) M. Kenseth 897;(4) J. Johnson 880;(5) B. Keselowski 868;(6) M. Truex Jr. 862;(7) C. Bowyer 858;(8) D. Hamlin 850;(9) K. Harvick 841;(10) T. Stewart 810;(11) K. Kahne 784;(12) J. Gordon 777.
3M Lap Leader : Denny Hamlin, #11 202 Laps American Ethanol Green Flag Restart Award : Kevin Harvick, #29
Coors Light Pole Award : Dale Earnhardt Jr, #88 127.023 mph DIRECTV Crew Chief of the Race : Clint Bowyer, #15 B Pattie
Mahle Clevite Engine Builder of the Race : Hendrick Engines, #24 Mobil 1 Oil Driver of the Race : Clint Bowyer, #15
Moog Chassis Parts Problem Solver of the Race : Tony Stewart, #14 S Addington, .059 sec Sunoco Rookie of the Race : Stephen Leicht, #33
USG Improving the Finish : Tony Stewart, #14 24 places
(i) Ineligible for driver points in this series
Next Race: Sep. 16, 2012 - Chicagoland Speedway
NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications @ P.O. Box 2875, Daytona Beach, FL 32120-2875
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