In A Nutshell: When the Silver Celebration 250 was delayed due to rain, Carl Edwards took a nap to kill the time. By the late stages of Saturday’s event, Edwards made the other 42 drivers look like they were the ones napping, taking the checkered flag 5.658 seconds ahead of Clint Bowyer to cruise to his 4th Busch win of the season at Gateway. After a nearly 2 hour rain delay, Edwards started 2nd and ran near the front all day, but it was his late race pit strategy that pushed him through a heated battle with Denny Hamlin to take control of the race when it counted. Hamlin, Reed Sorenson, and Kevin Harvick rounded out the Top 5 finishers.
Who Should Have Won: Hamlin. Denny clearly had the dominant car most of the night, starting from the pole and leading all of the first 111 laps of the race; he led 169 of 200 laps overall. Unfortunately for the 20 team, a late race decision to just take a splash of fuel and no tires proved to be a costly one, as Edwards’ call to take on fresh right side rubber put the 60 car in perfect position to blow by Hamlin and pull away with ease. Just goes to show you how races are won not just by the driver, but by the team on pit road making the right calls to get their driver up front when it matters.
Two Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race Weekend:
1) What happened to the Wallace boys?
Missouri natives Mike, Kenny, and Steve Wallace all started in the Top 10 Saturday night and were excited to race well at their “home track.” Unfortunately for them, Gateway had other plans. 18-year-old rookie Steve started in 4th, but had already fallen back to 13th by Lap 10; inevitably, he finished 31st, 7 laps down with an ill handling race car. Ditto for Uncle Mike, who finished 29th, 5 laps down in the No. 1 James Finch Dodge. It was Kenny Wallace had the best finish of the three, finishing in 9th place to give the family name some respectability at the track this year.
2) Will we ever see a non-Buschwhacker win again this season?
Having won only 2 of 22 races, the Busch regulars have been struggling to be run up front all season. This weekend was no different, as the Top 7 finishers Saturday night were full of Buschwhackers. It is definitely a possibility that we won’t see another Busch regular win for the rest of the season.
Worth Noting/Points Shuffle:
Several records were either tied or broken on Saturday evening including number of cautions, number of leaders, race time, and race speed. There were only 2 cautions for a total of 11 laps, tying the record for the least number of laps run under caution set in 2000. The low number of cautions led to a record breaking race speed of 119.152 mph and a record low 6 cars that finished on the lead lap; the previous record was 9 set in 2004. There were also only 3 leaders and 8 lead changes at the track, both also record lows. Finally, Edwards broke Kevin Harvick’s record race time set in 2000 (2:08.39) by finishing Saturday night with a race time of 2:05.54.
The race at Gateway also marked the first test with NASCAR running unleaded fuel, and the sport passed with flying colors, as there were no significant problems to report.
Saturday evening during postrace inspection, NASCAR confiscated Tim Sauter’s front shocks for “further evaluation” at their Research and Development Center. Sauter’s Chevrolet finished 22nd and was one of the cars randomly chosen.
Kevin Harvick, having finished 5th Saturday night, still comfortably sits in the points lead, now ahead by 318 over Carl Edwards. Clint Bowyer, Denny Hamlin, and J.J. Yeley continue to lock down third, fourth, and fifth in the standings. Behind them, Paul Menard and Kyle Busch each moved up a spot to 6th and 7th, respectively, knocking Greg Biffle back to eighth in points (Biffle took Gateway off). Johnny Sauter and Kenny Wallace continue to round out the Top 10, as, amazingly, positions ninth through 27th in points remained exactly the same after Saturday night’s race.
Buschwhackers in this race: 7
Starting spots taken by Buschwhackers YTD: 306 of 954
Buschwhackers finishing in Top 10: 7
Buschwhackers finishing in Top 10 YTD: 160 of 220
Races won by Buschwhackers YTD: 20 of 22
Buschwhackers ranked in Top 10 of Busch Series points standings: 7
“This means so much to win right here in front of all these people I know. I’ve never been that excited to win a race. That battle was about as fun as it gets. Denny is a class act and an unbelievable driver. It was pretty wild. I kind of knocked him out of the way a little bit and got by him and he got me a little bit in [Turn] 3. It was just going to be one of those good battles until the end.” Carl Edwards on his win
“I was contemplating whether we were going to do the fuel only or the two tires, but we had to wait on fuel anyway, (so I said) let's just get two tires.” Pierre Kuettel (crew chief for the 60) on his race winning pit call
“We had the best car probably 90 percent of the day. [But] once we got in that box where guys started to pit before we did, it was a no-win situation. We should have came down earlier and gotten tires. But third place is still good for us.” Denny Hamlin
Next Up: The Busch Series heads to the O’Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis next weekend for another night race at the challenging short track. Qualifying will be carried on SPEED Channel starting at 6:00 pm ET, and the Kroger 200 will air on TNT beginning at 9:00 pm ET. Coverage will also be on your local MRN affiliate.
©2000 - 2008 Beth Lunkenheimer and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!