SPRINT Crown Royal Presents The Dan Lowry 400Final
Bowyer wins Crown Royal 400May 4, 2008 - 4:52 AM RICHMOND, Virginia (Ticker) -- Denny Hamlin was dominant and Dale Earnhardt Jr. was poised to break a two-year winless drought, but Clint Bowyer wound up stealing the show.
Bowyer took advantage of a late-race accident involving Earnhardt and Kyle Busch to win Saturday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Crown Royal 400 at Richmond International Raceway.
It was Bowyer's second career win, following his victory in New Hampshire in last season's first race of the "Chase for the Championship." He earned $226,550 for bring his Chevrolet home first with an average speed of 95.786 miles per hour.
"It's awesome," said Bowyer, who started 31st. "I messed up in qualifying and let these guys down, but we dug deep, kept fighting, and look where we are."
Busch was second in a Toyota, followed by Mark Martin's Chevrolet, Tony Stewart's Toyota and the Chevrolet of Martin Truex Jr.
Hamlin dominated the majority of the race but gave up the lead to Earnhardt with 17 laps remaining after suffering a front right flat tire. The tire eventually blew and he wound up 24th despite leading a record 381 of 410 laps.
"Unbelievable - it's just tough to say," said Hamlin, a Virginia native who won Friday's Nationwide Series race. "You can't whine about it - it just wasn't meant to be. The good Lord decided it wasn't our day."
After Earnhardt took the lead, Busch spun him in the third turn as they fought for the lead on lap 398, putting Earnhardt into the wall.
"We were just racing hard there," Busch said. "Junior and I were racing hard in Turn 3 and I got loose. It was just a product of good, hard racing. I apologize to those guys."
After the race, Busch was confronted on pit road by former crew members from Hendrick Motorsports. Busch spent three years driving for Hendrick, but was replaced by Earnhardt this season.
As expected, Earnhardt was disappointed after he narrowly missed out on snapping his 71-race winless streak. Ironically, his last win came at this race two years ago.
"He's gonna need security from all of us," Earnhardt said when asked if Busch would need protection from his vast legion of fans when leaving the track.
"I haven't seen the replays, but (crew chief Tony Eury Jr.) said it looked like he got loose underneath us. It's just disappointing because we've been running real good and were in position for a win."
Bowyer took advantage of the leaders' wreck and raced by, taking the lead for good.
"We knew we had that all day, didn't we?" Bowyer said to his crew, tongue in cheek, after crossing the finish line.
Based on his second-place finish, Busch moved atop the standings and holds an 18-point edge over Jeff Burton, who finished 12th.
Despite his late wreck, Earnhardt finished 15th and remains third, 104 points behind Busch.
"I thought I was going to end the winless streak tonight and celebrate and be happy," Earnhardt said. "We'll have to keep running good like we are and try somewhere else."
- Crown Royal 400 Preview May 3