I also want to take a moment to acknowledge that today would have been Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s 60th birthday.
A little different announce team tonight for the race since it is being seen on Speed. ESPN determined that NBA playoff basketball and the NFL Draft would bring in more viewers than the race. That is fine, we know where to find horsepower and the Speed crew does a good job.
The cars have fired and are on their parade laps. Carl Edwards will start from the pole with Sam Hornish Jr. starting along side in second. A little bit of surprise in the top ten starters tonight, Kenny Wallace continues to show he can still race in good equipment by starting seventh. Denny Hamlin will roll off 11th. I need to correct myself from my article last night. No Kyle Busch in the race tonight. I assumed he would be running tonight, but no Rowdy in the race tonight. There are only 41 starters for the race tonight, two short of a full field.
Green flag is out and Edwards jumps out to the lead with Brian Scott moving into second. Mid way through the field the racing is two by two, with the leaders getting nose to tail. Ten laps in to the race and Edwards has jumped out to a three quarter second lead. Kenny Wallace is up to fifth.
Lap 20 and Edwards continues to lead. Scott has cut the lead by a tenth or two. Scott is running times comparable to the leader. Hamlin is on the move though, on lap 25 he is up to fifth. Kenny Wallace is fastest on the track and is up to fourth.
Code spotter code is “racehard”.
Lap 40 and we still have Edwards at the front, but Hamlin has moved into second and is a little bit quicker.
Lap 44 and the first lead change of the night occurs as Hamlin is faster than Edwards and takes the lead. Edwards is holding strong and is just behind Hamlin as they also battle a car about to go a lap down.
Lap 70 and the top five is Hamlin, Aric Almirola, Kenny Wallace, Edwards, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Hamlin’s lead is roughly three seconds.
Lap 80 and Brad Keselowski will pit early with a flat tire. Keselowski got back on the track and tapped Scott going into turn three. Just a deal where Keselowski has new tires and is much faster than all the cars on the track. Right front tire was going low for Keselowski.
Speed just mentioned this is the longest green flag run to begin a race at Richmond since that statistic was kept.
Lap 95 and an update on Edwards, Edwards has fallen all the way back to 15th and has been lapped. Guess his car was not set up for the long run.
Lap 100 and the start of green flag stops has begun. This will be interesting if we can avoid the caution with some cars on new tires. Kenny Wallace is now in for his green flag stop. Mike Bliss gets a pass through penalty for speeding on pit road. Pit stops have been completed and the biggest beneficiary is Keselowski who had to pit early for a flat tire. Keselowski is now sixth on lap 105.
Lap 124 and the caution is out for a spin into the wall by Kelly Bires. The incident occurred in turn four. Leaders came in and pitted under the caution. It will be interesting to see if some of the lap down cars stay out and take the wave around to get back on the lead lap.
Half Way Stats:
Leaders: 4 for 4 Lead Changes
Cautions: 1 for 2 Laps
Lead Lap Cars: 8
Average Speed: 114.077
A lot of cars did take the wave around, so we will get a bunch of cars back on the lead lap for the restart. Lap 131 and the green flag comes back out with Hamlin leading the charge into turn one. Hamlin is clear out of turn two with Almirola just behind him. Almirola now beats Hamlin back into turn one and moves into the lead.
Lap 138 and Hamlin digs back to the lead and that allows Stenhouse Jr. to get in the mix. Hamlin now stretches the lead with second through fourth now battling each other about 10 car lengths behind the leader.
Lap 160 and the top five is Hamlin, Stenhouse Jr., Paul Menard, Almirola, and Justin Allgaier.
Logging laps at this point with 75 to go, no change at the point with Hamlin still in the lead. Menard is now in the second position.
Scott Wimmer penalized for having his crew push the car too many pit stalls. Penalty comes around lap 185.
Lap 190 and some of the wave around cars that did not pit under the yellow are starting to make stops.
Lap 200 and the top five is Hamlin, Almirola, Stenhouse Jr., Menard, and Kenny Wallace.
Lap 216 and the first leader is in for the final stop, Menard hits pit road for service. Lap 217 and Edwards, still a lap down, is now out of fuel and coasting into the pits. Some more cars have hit pit road, but no more of the leaders yet.
Lap 225 and Hamlin might gamble without making another stop to stretch the fuel all the way. The finish of the race could be interesting. Edwards now penalized as well for pitting outside of the box.
Lap 135 and Kenny Wallace will not stretch it any more as he comes in for a splash of fuel. Hamlin continues to squeeze every ounce of fuel out of the car in hopes of making it to the finish.
Lap 242 and Stenhouse Jr. has run out of fuel. Not sure if he is going to make it back to pit road. Lap 243 and caution is out for Stenhouse Jr. because he came to a stop in turn two. On the caution Almirola has run out of gas and is going to need a teammate to push him around. Hamlin hits pit road with the other lead lap cars. 19 cars take the wave around before the green. Almirola is also penalized for speeding off of pit road to beat the pace car to the pit out line.
Green flag is out with two laps to go. Hamlin gets into turn one and leads, Menard bumps him in one. Hamlin gets a car length. A spin in turn four and Hamlin is going to take the win tonight. The top five is Hamlin, Menard, Allgaier, Sadler, and Keselowski.
Wish that last caution did not come out. I really would have liked to see how that played out. Interesting race tonight and looking forward to the Cup race tomorrow night. Thanks for stopping by www.troubleinturntwo.com. Please leave a comment on what you think about the site or any of our articles. Be sure to like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter @troublinturntwo.
Final Race Stats:
Leaders: 4 for 6 Lead Changes
Most Laps Led: Denny Hamlin (199 Laps)
Cautions: 3 for 11 Laps
Lead Lap Cars: 6
Average Speed: 108.41 mph
Time of Race: 1:45:43