AAA Texas 500

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Denny's All American Slam
by Traci Hanson

November 7, 2010

Denny HamlinThere’s just something about Texas and destiny seemed to dictate nothing would go as predicted, that is until the final lap. First, Elliot Saddler stuns everyone with a blistering qualifying run, winning his first pole since 2006. The Chase leaders, the #48, #11, and #29, separated by just 38 points coming into Sunday’s race, were buried deep within a starting field and would have to fight to be a factor. And speaking of fighting – a series of contentious and frankly bizarre moments made the AAA Texas 500 the most interesting race of the season.

Greg Biffle raced by Elliot Sadler in lap one to lead the pack into the first caution and would be a factor the whole race, eventually snagging top 5 finish. The Chase leaders, Johnson, Harvick and Hamlin began to make steady progress through the field and by lap 118 all three were sitting pretty in the top ten. Johnson seemed to have the edge as he grabbed 5th spot from Denny Hamlin as a caution flag brought everyone to pit road at lap 157. That’s where things started to go wrong for the usually steady Lowe’s Team. Just one of many poor pit stops dropped the #48 seven positions to 12th, while Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin jump to 5th and 6th, respectively. Kyle Busch would bring out another yellow by spinning his car. He was able to keep it off the wall and managed to stay on  the lead lap until he was caught speeding on pit road. Nascar officials initially assess him a 1 lap penalty and after his “digital” response  was deemed inappropriate, he was assessed 2 more lap penalties, effectively snuffing out any hopes of victory Sunday.

Jeff GordonBy caution number 7 on lap 191, Harvick and Hamlin were both running in the top ten and Johnson was just on the outside in 12th. But caution number seven is not about the three Chase leaders, but rather their Hendricks and Richard Childress teammates. In what can only be described as a bizarre set of circumstances, replays show Jeff Gordon sliding up in front of Jeff Burton under caution. Burton then rear ends Gordon sending him crashing into the wall along the back stretch. Jeff Gordon exits his car and makes the long walk to the #31 car where a makeshift WWE style skirmish between the two commences. Race officials quickly step in to break up the fight and both are hauled away in the same ambulance. Burton denies intent, but Gordon obviously takes issue.

With Gordon’s car out of the race and the #48 unable to gain any ground due to poor pit stops, the decision is made that the #24 crew will take over pit responsibilities for the Lowe’s Chevrolet. As Biffle managed to maintain the lead, the Chase leaders battle each other in the top ten along with Mark Martin, Joey Lagano and David Reutimann. With only a few laps remaining, Matt Kenseth races Hamlin hard, but Hamlin finally edged him out for a comfortable win. Mark Martin, Joey Lagano and Greg Biffle round out the top five.

Jimmie Johnson finished ninth, dropping him out the points lead, 33 behind Hamlin. Harvick finished the race in the sixth and stands 59 points behind the leader.  With two races left, Hamlin certainly seems to have the momentum, while Johnson seems to have the drama and Harvick - neither. Who will come out on top is anyone’s guess.

1 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Office 190/5 334 Running
2 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Crown Royal Black 175/5 334 Running
3 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet Carquest / 170/5 334 Running
4 20 Joey Logano Toyota The Home Depot 165/5 334 Running
5 16 Greg Biffle Ford American Red Cross 165/10 334 Running
6 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 155/5 334 Running
7 33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Cheerios / Hamburger Helper 146/0 334 Running
8 6 David Ragan Ford UPS 142/0 334 Running
9 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 143/5 334 Running
10 98 Paul Menard Ford Quaker State / Menards 134/0 334 Running
11 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Office Depot / Old Spice 130/0 334 Running
12 47 Marcos Ambrose Toyota Tom Thumb 127/0 334 Running
13 83 Kasey Kahne Toyota Red Bull 124/0 334 Running
14 43 A.J. Allmendinger Ford Valvoline 121/0 334 Running
15 00 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Outdoors Mossy Oak 118/0 334 Running
16 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Arctic Cat 115/0 334 Running
17 21 Trevor Bayne Ford Motorcraft / Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center 112/0 334 Running
18 77 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge AAA 109/0 334 Running
19 99 Carl Edwards Ford Aflac 106/0 334 Running
20 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet Tornados 103/0 334 Running
21 9 Aric Almirola Ford Budweiser 100/0 334 Running
22 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row Companies 97/0 334 Running
23 19 Elliott Sadler Ford Stanley 94/0 333 Running
24 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Operation Home Front / Miller Lite 91/0 333 Running
25 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet National Guard / Amp Energy 88/0 333 Running
26 13 Casey Mears Toyota GEICO 90/5 333 Running
27 82 Scott Speed Toyota Red Bull 82/0 333 Running
28 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Lysol 79/0 333 Running
29 38 David Gilliland Ford Taco Bell 81/5 333 Running
30 110 Bobby Labonte Chevrolet Gander Mountain 73/0 333 Running
31 26 Patrick Carpentier Ford Air National Guard 75/5 333 Running
32 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's 67/0 332 Running
33 12 Brad Keselowski Dodge Penske Racing 64/0 332 Running
34 71 Andy Lally Chevrolet 66/5 331 Running
35 7 Robby Gordon Toyota Mapei / Menards 63/5 240 Engine
36 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 55/0 192 Accident
37 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 52/0 190 Accident
38 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA / Susan G Komen 49/0 188 Accident
39 66 Mike Bliss Toyota Prism Motorsports 51/5 45 Rear Gear
40 09 Landon Cassill Chevrolet Phoenix Racing 43/0 35 Vibration
41 34 Travis Kvapil Ford Long John Silver's 40/0 25 Overheating
42 37 Dave Blaney Ford A&W All American Food 37/0 23 Overheating
43 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota 34/0 12 Engine