2010-09-23 / Sports

Bowyer Outlasts Stewart At New Hampshire

By Gerald Hodges
THE RACING REPORTER

LOUDON, N.H. – The first of this year’s 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup championship is history, with Clint Bowyer beating Denny Hamlin for the win in Sunday’s Sylvania 300.

But Tony Stewart was the big loser. Stewart, who had pitted earlier than either Bowyer or Hamlin for fuel, rolled the dice and came up two laps short of the finish line on fuel.

Bowyer, who was running second, assumed the lead from the gasless Stewart, and finished the 300-lap race about six-car-lengths ahead of Hamlin.

“I don’t know what happened to my carburetor,” said Bowyer. “I couldn’t get going on the restarts, but that may actually have helped me save enough fuel to finish on.”

“I didn’t know what was going on with Tony, I was just trying to keep up with him, but things worked out for us.

“I had a funny feeling going into this race that this might be our day.”

Bowyer moved all the way up from 12th to second in Chase points.

Hamlin’s runner-up position made him the new Chase leader.

“We came in and got fuel while those guys stayed out,” said Hamlin. “We had plenty of fuel. We made a charge there at the end, but what can I say, we just came up short. But it was a good run, and we’ve put ourselves in a good position for the Chase.”

Jamie McMurray, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, David Reutimann, Ryan Newman, Kyle Busch, and Sam Hornish were the remaining top- 10 finishers.

Jeff Burton, another Chase driver, was running third, when he ran out of fuel, three laps from the finish. He coasted to a 15th-place finish.

Polesitter Brad Keselowski finished 18th.

Tony Stewart’s fuel gamble proved costly. His 24thplace finish dropped him from sixth to 11th in points.

“I’m certainly not happy about what happened today,” said Stewart. “It’s hard to lose one like that when you have the fastest car. It’s a tough way to start the Chase.”

Jimmie Johnson got caught up in a wreck on lap 224 that damaged the fontend of his car. He finished 25th.

Top-10 Chase leaders with nine races left: 1. Hamlin 5230, 2. Bowyer-5195, 3. Harvick-5185, 4. Kyle Busch- 5168, 5. Jeff Gordon-5155, 6. Kurt Busch-5144, 7. Johnson 5138, 8. Edwards-5135, 9. Biffle-5122, 10. Burton- 5118, 11. Stewart-5106, 12. Kenseth-5094

Busch wins New Hampshire truck race

LOUDON, N.H. – Kyle Busch raced to his fifth victory this season in the Camping World Truck Series, passing James Buescher on the final restart Saturday at New Hampshire Speedway.

Top-10 finishers: Busch, Buescher, Kevin Harvick, Matt Crafton, Austin Dillon, Timothy Peters, Johnny Sauter, Aric Almirola, Todd Bodine, and Bobby Hamilton Jr.

With just six races left before the 2010 truck championship is decided, Todd Bodine has a 257-point lead over Aric Almirola.

Top-10 leaders: 1. Bodine- 3036, 2. Amlirola-2779, 3. Sauter-2726, 4. Peters-2683, 5. Crafton-2618, 6. Dillon- 2613, 7. Hornaday-2552, 8. Skinner-2458, 9. Starr-2372, 10. White-2254

The underdog is gone in NASCAR, and if sponsorship continues to dry up, some of the big dogs might be on the way out as well.

For those of you who haven’t noticed, Mark Martin’s No. 5 Hendrick Motor Sports Cup car has been running with Hendrickcars. com painted on the side.

Jeff Gordon, another Hendrick team driver is losing DuPont, his major sponsor of 20 years. Gordon recently saw a potential deal with Walmart fall through.

“The Walmart thing was a little disappointing because I feel like everyone wanted to see that company in this sport,” he said.

When Hendrick has problems getting big corporate sponsors, what chance do the little teams have?

And it takes millions and millions of dollars to run a full Cup schedule.

Years ago, you could believe that a small, underfunded team could win a big NASCAR race.

Today that would be an illusion. In the past, there was the belief that anything could happen, a driver could win a first race, and a veteran could win his last.

Now that feeling is gone. The sleeping underdogs just lie dormant, perhaps dreaming of better times, days when there was at least the illusion of a big win.

Races today are too predictable, not because of the new car , or even the racing itself – that’s pretty much the same. There’s just no real hope anymore that this week’s winner might be Joe Nemechek, Kenny Wallace or Tony Raines.

Those days are past. Now, if the winner doesn’t come from one of the Big Three, he’ll come from close by, or from a heavily funded factory team. He won’t come from the independent ranks, or those of the underfunded. The underdog is gone in NASCAR.

Kyle Busch recently built a large racing facility to house three Camping World truck teams and one Nationwide team.

He lost funding for two teams and has cut back to one truck team and one car team.

“It’s not an advantage to own a race team right now,” said Busch. “We’ve seen two major sponsors leave because of the economy. Without the right sponsor, it’s going to be hard for us to stay in business. The people that have the money to do it, either can’t or don’t want to do it. The guys that want to do it don’t have the money to do it.

Busch said he now has about 50 employees on his payroll, and expects to lay off a big majority of them as soon as the season is over.

Weekend racing: The Cup and Nationwide teams are at the Dover Monster Mile. This will be the second of 10 Chase races for the Cup teams. The Camping World Trucks are at the 1.5-mile Las Vegas track.

Sat., Sept. 25, Nationwide Series Dover 200, race 28 of 35; starting time: 3 p.m. ET; TV: ESPN. Sat., Sept. 25, Camping World Smith’s 350, race 20 of 25; starting time: 9 p.m. ET; TV: Speed. Sun., Sept. 26, Sprint Cup AAA 400, race 28 of 36; starting time: 1 p.m. ET; TV: ESPN.

Racing trivia question: When was the 10-race Chase for the championship instituted?

Last week’s question: Which Cup team will Kevin Harvick drive for next season? Answer. He will continue to drive the No. 29 Richard Childress Chevrolet.

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