Clint Bowyer took the win in what I have to say was one of the most confusing finishes I have ever seen at any race, bar none. NASCAR officials took their time to make sure they got it right with a caution coming after the white flag had flown. Kevin Harvick and Bowyer were side by side facing off at the head of separate 2 car hookups passed the Start/Finish line and were shown the white flag. As the field rounded towards the checkered flag, A.J. Allmendinger was turned upside down in turn one and the caution flag came out.Ã‚Â Bowyer and Harvick were side by side at the moment the caution came out so Officials went to scoring loops and camera feeds to decide the winner.Ã‚Â While they were waiting Bowyer decided to have a little fun and started his victory burnout a little early, just in case.Ã‚Â It turns out that he had done the right thing in the end.
Bowyer had nosed ahead of Harvick in Turn 1 on the 188th and final lap when a spectacular wreck behind them sent A.J. Allmendinger upside down into the inside wall, causing the fifth caution of the race and freezing the field.
ESPN broadcasts agreed with the decision showing their best camera angles at the time of the yellow. It looked like about a millionth of an inch in my TV in what felt like the shortest ever race from Talledega. With no “Big One” to narrow the field and so few cautions until the last 40 laps of the race it felt like it just flew by. However there was so much happening throughout the race that I was on the edge of my seat the whole way through.Ã‚Â At the half way point in the race there had been over 56 lead changes and 21 different leaders out of a 43 car field.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â It was anyone’s game from flag to flag.
With David Reutimann pushing,Ã‚Â Harvick had led at the start/finish line on Lap 187, but a shove from third-place finisher Juan Pablo Montoya sent Bowyer back in front just enough to win as the cars rolled into Turn 1 and the caution lights came on.
“I thought we had it for sure,” Bowyer said. “When two cars hook up, they just drive off from them and they (Harvick and Reutimann) were coming on the outside and ran us down, and then I quit dragging my brakes and we kind of took off again.
“Door to door there and all of a sudden …Ã‚Â Mike Dillon (Clint’s spotter)Ã‚Â is yelling at me in my ear that the caution was coming out. I looked over to make sure I was ahead of him. I thought I was, but I didn’t know.”
“About 6 inches …” said Harvick, who beat Jamie McMurray to the line on a last lap pass here at Talladega in April. “It’s just one of those deals where we’ve won a few by a few inches and we’ve lost a few. It’s hard to complain because you can wind up on the wrecker pretty easy.”Ã‚Â His second place finish moves Harvick to within 38 points of the championship with only 3 races to go.
Bowyer takes his 4th career victory and his first at a restrictor plate track.
The race started with over half of the Chasers 21st or worse. Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon hung around the back of the pack in 28th or so and waited for their moment to strike Making a late race charge to the front to improve their track position with Johnson even leading for a few laps with 13 to go.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Hendrick equipment was certainly showcased as Dale Earnhardt Jr got to the front and led twice for a total of 23 laps before getting anxious too early in the race and bumping Jeff Burton a little too hard in a corner causing both the 88 and the 31 to spin into the infield after smacking the outside wall.
With the tightest chase since the inception of the format heading into the final 3 races of the season it is looking more and more like it is still Johnson’s Championship to lose.Ã‚Â Hamlin and Harvick however are not going to take it lying down.Ã‚Â Hamlin lost a little bit of ground with his 9th place finish and Johnson finishing 7th.Ã‚Â With Johnson now holding a 14 point lead and Harvick moving closer to the top with his second place finish and 38 points out of first.
Watch for the front running teams to take a few more chances in the weeks ahead now as any points they can gain will assist them in the run to decide the champion for 2010.Ã‚Â Johnson must be able to taste the victory now as he still holds on to the lead at this point.Ã‚Â Hamlin looks like a cage fighter before every race with the anticipation of the finish riding in the back of his mind.Ã‚Â Harvick almost looks to be the dark horse spoiler as he steadily erodes the lead between himself and Johnson.Ã‚Â Both Hamlin and Johnson are heading to tracks where they have had success and Harvick is not one to stand on the sidelines.Ã‚Â This is going to be a battle to the bitter end and I for one can’t wait to see how it all plays out.