2010 Air Guard 400
|Race 26 of 36 in the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season|
|Date||September 11, 2010|
|Location||Richmond International Raceway, Richmond, Virginia|
|Course||Permanent racing facility
0.75 mi (1.21 km)
|Distance||400 laps, 300 mi (483 km)|
|Weather||Mostly sunny with a high around 82; wind out of the NE at 5 mph. Chance of precipitation: 10%.|
|Average speed||104.096 miles per hour (167.526 km/h)|
|Driver||Carl Edwards||Roush Fenway Racing|
|Most laps led|
|Driver||Denny Hamlin||Joe Gibbs Racing|
||Joe Gibbs Racing|
|Television in the United States|
|Announcers||Marty Reid, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree|
The 2010 Air Guard was a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stock car race that was held on September 11, 2010 at Richmond International Raceway in Richmond, Virginia. Contested over 400 laps, it was the twenty-sixth and final race leading into the Chase for the Sprint Cup in the 2010 Sprint Cup Series season. The race was won by Denny Hamlin, for the Joe Gibbs Racing team. Kyle Busch finished second, and Jimmie Johnson, who started eleventh, clinched third.
There were three cautions and fourteen lead changes among six different drivers throughout the course of the race. It was Denny Hamlin's sixth win of the season and the fifteenth of his career. The result of having six wins moved him into first in the Drivers' Championship, ten ahead of Jimmie Johnson and thirty ahead of Kevin Harvick to begin the 2010 Chase for the Sprint Cup. Chevrolet maintained its lead in the Manufacturers' Championship, twenty-nine ahead of Toyota and sixty-eight ahead of Ford, with ten races remaining in the season. A total of 95,000 people attended the race, while 5.288 million watched it on television.
The track, Richmond International Raceway, is one of five short tracks to hold NASCAR races, the others being Bristol Motor Speedway, Dover International Speedway, Martinsville Speedway, and Phoenix International Raceway. The NASCAR race makes use of the track's standard configuration, a four-turn short track oval that is 0.75 miles (1.21 km) long. The track's turns are banked at fourteen degrees. The front stretch, the location of the finish line, is banked at eight degrees while the back stretch has two degrees of banking. The racetrack has seats for 97,912 spectators.
Before the race, Kevin Harvick led the Drivers' Championship with 3,585 points, and Jeff Gordon stood in second with 3,366 points. Kyle Busch was third in the Drivers' Championship with 3,325 points, Tony Stewart was fourth with 3,302 points, and Carl Edwards was in fifth with 3,288 points. Five additional drivers had clinched spots in the Chase—in order of placement, Jeff Burton, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, and Denny Hamlin. Greg Biffle, who was 11th in the standings, needed only a finish of 42nd place in the race to secure his spot in the Chase. Clint Bowyer, in the final Chase spot of 12th in the standings, clinched his spot with a race finish of 28th or better. In the Manufacturers' Championship, Chevrolet was leading with 182 points, thirty-two points ahead of their rival Toyota. Ford, with 116 points, was fourteen points ahead of Dodge in the battle for third. Denny Hamlin is the race's defending champion.
Practice and qualifying
Two practice sessions was held before the Saturday race—both on Friday. The first session lasted 120 minutes, while the second session lasted 45 minutes. During the first practice session, Clint Bowyer was quickest with a time of 22.007 seconds. Ryan Newman followed ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya, Carl Edwards, and David Reutimann in the third, fourth and fifth positions. In the second and final practice session, Edwards was quickest ahead of Paul Menard and Montoya in second and third. Greg Biffle was scored fourth ahead of Kasey Kahne in fifth.
During qualifying, forty-seven cars were entered, but only forty-three were able because of NASCAR's qualifying procedure. Carl Edwards clinched his sixth career pole position, with a time of 21.133 seconds. He was joined on the front row of the grid by Montoya. A. J. Allmendinger qualified third, Clint Bowyer took fourth, and Reutimann started fifth. The five drivers that failed to qualify for the race were Terry Labonte, Michael McDowell, Todd Bodine, Scott Riggs, and Brian Keselowski. However, Terry Labonte replaced Mike Bliss during the race.
Following the qualifying session, Edwards stated, "There's really no pressure. It's just go out and have fun, try not to run into Clint Bowyer or any of those guys that have a lot on the line. I think the key for us is to just go out and win a race. While the pressure's off, you can go out and you can take risks and race harder and sometimes you get a chance to perform really well. That's just what we need to start the Chase." Then, Burton, who started fourth, said, "I believe it is in our best interest to turn it up and be on kill when this race starts."
The race, the twenty-sixth out of a total of thirty-six in the season, began at 7:30 pm EDT and was televised live in the United States on ABC. Before the race, conditions were sunny with a temperature of 82 °F (28 °C). Chaplain Rick Jenkins, began pre-race ceremonies, by giving the invocation. Next, Synthia Seymour performed the national anthem, and Harry Wyatt III gave the command for drivers to start their engines. On the pace laps, Mattias Ekstrom moved to the rear on the grid, after changing his engine. Terry Labonte also had to fall from their original starting position to the rear, after he replace Mike Bliss for the race.
Carl Edwards retained his pole position lead into the first corner, followed by Juan Pablo Montoya in the second position. After two laps of racing, Brad Keselowski had moved up two positions into sixth on the grid. Two laps later, A. J. Allmendinger passed Montoya to claim the second position, but on lap seven, Montoya reclaimed the second position from Allmendinger. Jimmie Johnson, after nine laps, had moved from his starting position of eleventh to seventh. By lap 12, Edwards had a 1.31 second lead over Montoya. Two laps later, Johnson moved into the fifth position, as he passed David Reutimann. After starting twelfth, Matt Kenseth had moved into the tenth position by lap 21.
Four laps later, Kyle Busch, who started thirtieth, had moved up to twenty-fifth. On lap 27, Jamie McMurray moved into nineteenth, passing Mark Martin, as Montoya was catching Edwards. Tony Stewart moved into the ninth position, after passing Paul Menard. After starting twenty-first, Kurt Busch had moved to eleventh by lap 35. Nine laps later, Clint Bowyer passed Allmendinger, as Johnson passed moved into the third position. On lap 50, Johnson passed Montoya for second. Then, one lap later, he claimed the first position after passing Edwards. On lap 55, Reutimann had a flat tire, which prompted the first caution to be given. All the drivers on the lead lap made their pit stops, as Edwards reclaimed the lead on pit road.
On lap 62, Edwards, followed by Johnson was first and second on the restart. Two laps later, Bowyer claimed second away from Johnson, as Stewart moved into the fourth position. Afterward, Stewart emerged in the third position, as Johnson fell to fourth. Kurt Busch had moved into the seventh position by lap 76. Fifteen laps after the restart, Edwards had a 1.11 second lead over Bowyer. On lap 80, Johnson reclaimed third, from Stewart, as McMurray moved into thirteenth, after passing Menard. Ten laps later, Denny Hamlin moved into the fifth position. After starting twenty-fifth, Jeff Burton had moved to twelfth by lap 95. Then, on lap 100, Bowyer passed Edwards to become the leader.
Hamlin, then moved into the second position, after passing Johnson and Edwards, by lap 107. Three laps later, Hamlin became the new leader. On lap 119, Kurt Busch moved into the ninth position. Eleven laps after Hamlin claimed the lead, he had a lead of 2.1 seconds over Bowyer. On lap 125, Johnson reclaimed the third position. Two laps later, Burton moved into eleventh. On lap 135, Hamlin managed a lead of 3.3 seconds. After starting thirty-third, Kyle Busch had moved into the tenth position by lap 137. Eight laps later, the second caution was given because of the debris from Terry Labonte's collision with the wall. Hamlin remained the leader during pit stops.
Hamlin led going in the first corner on the restart, but Johnson, who restarted third, emerged in the first position two laps later. Hamlin, then reclaimed the lead a lap later. On lap 158, Allmendinger fell to fourth, as Bowyer passed him. Five laps later, Bowyer claimed second away from Johnson. On lap 72, Kyle Busch moved into the seventh position, as Bowyer passed Hamlin for the lead. Six laps later, Kyle Busch passed Montoya to move to the sixth position. Afterward, Hamlin reclaimed the lead from Bowyer. On lap 180, Kyle Busch moved into the fifth position. Hamlin, on lap 181, fell to second, as Bowyer and him battle for the lead. Nineteen laps later, Hamlin battled Bowyer to become the leader. On lap 203, Johnson moved into the second position, after passing Bowyer.
Ten laps later, Hamlin had a lead of 1.2 seconds over Johnson. On lap 216, Kevin Harvick moved to the eighth position, as Ryan Newman moved into ninth. On lap 226, light rain showers arrived, prompting NASCAR to give the third caution. All the leaders, except Jeff Burton pitted on lap 228. Ten laps later, he gave up the lead to Hamlin because of pitting. Hamlin led during the restart, as Bowyer moved into second. On lap 249, Newman passed Stewart for the eighth position. Nine laps later, Kyle Busch moved into the fourth position. On lap 270, Allmendinger fell to the sixth position, as Joey Logano passed Marcos Ambrose for twelfth.
On lap 273, Kenseth reported to his crew, that he is having car handling problems. Eight laps later, Logano moved into ninth, after passing Stewart. By lap 285, Newman had caught Allmendinger for sixth. Fifteen laps later, Logano moved into the seventh position. On lap 306, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who was four laps behind the leader, came to pit road. By lap 309, Hamlin had a 1.3 second lead over Bowyer. Hamlin had increased his lead from 1.3 seconds to 2.21 in only eight laps. On lap 320, Montoya came to pit road, as green flag pit stops began. On lap 328, Montoya passed Hamlin for the first position, as Hamlin came to pit road. Four laps later, Hamlin reclaimed the lead, ahead of Montoya, Bowyer, Johnson and, Kyle Busch in the top five positions.
On lap 336, Montoya fell to the third position, as Kyle Busch moved into second. On lap 345, Logano moved into the sixth position. By lap 350, Montoya had fallen to the fourth position. After 359 laps, there were only eighteen cars on the same lap as the leader. On lap 366, Logano had caught Montoya in the sixth position, but he would pass him until four laps later. On lap 380, Johnson was 2.5 seconds behind Hamlin, in third. With twenty laps remaining, Hamlin had a lead of 1.2 seconds over Kyle Busch. Denny Hamlin crossed the line to win the race, over a second ahead of second place Kyle Busch, in front of a crowd of 95,000 people. Johnson maintained third while Logano and Ambrose finished fourth and fifth.
|This section requires expansion. (September 2010)|
The race result left Denny Hamlin leading the Driver's Championship with 5,060 points, after he one his sixth race of the 2010 season. Jimmie Johnson, who finished third, was second on 5,050, twenty points ahead of Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, and Kurt Busch. Tony Stewart, who was tied with Greg Biffle, followed in sixth, ten points ahead of Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, and Jeff Burton. Matt Kenseth and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top twelve in points. In the Manufacturers' Championship, Chevrolet maintained their lead with 188 points. Toyota remained second with 159 points. Ford followed with 120 points, fifteen points ahead of Dodge in fourth. 5.288 million people watched the race on television.
Standings after the race
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