2010 Sylvania 300
|Race 27 of 36 in the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season
|Date||September 19, 2010|
|Location||New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Loudon, New Hampshire|
|Course||Permanent racing facility
1.058 mi (1.702 km)
|Distance||300 laps, 317.4 mi (510.805 km)|
|Weather||Temperatures up to 75.9 °F (24.4 °C); wind speeds up to 5.1 miles per hour (8.2 km/h)|
|Average speed||106.77 miles per hour (171.83 km/h)|
|Driver||Brad Keselowski||Penske Racing|
|Most laps led|
|Driver||Clint Bowyer||Richard Childress Racing|
||Richard Childress Racing|
|Television in the United States|
|Announcers||Marty Reid, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree|
The 2010 Sylvania 300 was a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stock car race held on September 19, 2010, at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. The 300 lap race was the twenty-seventh in the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, as well as the first race in the ten-race Chase for the Sprint Cup, which ends the season. Clint Bowyer, of the Richard Childress Racing team, won the race, with Denny Hamlin finishing second, and Jamie McMurray third.
Pole position driver Brad Keselowski maintained his lead in the first lap, but in the second lap Tony Stewart pulled ahead. Chase for the Sprint Cup participants Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, and Hamlin were in the top ten for most of the race, but in the closing laps all of them suffered spins or other problems. Hamlin was the only one to recover and finish in the top five. With two laps remaining, Tony Stewart was leading the race when he ran out of fuel, giving the lead to Bowyer, who also led the most laps in the race with 176. There were eight cautions and twenty-three lead changes among eight different drivers during the race.
The race was Clint Bowyer's first win in the 2010 season, and the third of his career. The result advanced Bowyer to second in the Drivers' Championship, thirty-five points behind Hamlin and ten ahead of Kevin Harvick, but because of a penalty three days after the race, he fell to twelfth in the standings. Chevrolet maintained its lead in the Manufacturers' Championship, thirty-two points ahead of Toyota and seventy-four ahead of Ford, with nine races remaining in the season. A total of 95,000 people attended the race, while 3.68 million watched it on television.
The track, New Hampshire Motor Speedway, is one of ten intermediate tracks to hold NASCAR races, the others being Atlanta Motor Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Chicagoland Speedway, and Darlington Raceway as well as Homestead Miami Speedway, Kansas Speedway, Kentucky Speedway, Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and Texas Motor Speedway. The standard track at New Hampshire Motor Speedway is a four-turn oval track, 1.6 miles (2.6 km) long. The track's turns are banked at two to seven degrees, while the front stretch, the finish line, and the back stretch are banked at one degree.
Before the race, Denny Hamlin led the Drivers' Championship with 5,060 points, with Jimmie Johnson in second place with 5,050. Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch were tied for third place with 5,030 points, and Kyle's older brother Kurt Busch had 5020 points. Tony Stewart with 5,010 points was tied with Greg Biffle, as Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, and Jeff Burton rounded out the top ten with 5,000 points each. In the parallel Chase for the Sprint Cup, Matt Kenseth and Clint Bowyer both started with their points total reset to 5,000. In the Manufacturers' Championship, Chevrolet was leading with 188 points, twenty-nine points ahead of their rival Toyota. Ford, with 120 points, was fifteen points ahead of Dodge in the battle for third place. Mark Martin was the race's defending champion.
Some competitors in the 2010 Chase for the Sprint Cup were optimistic about their chances of winning the championship. Greg Biffle said he thought he, Jeff Burton or Tony Stewart were "capable of winning it". Jimmie Johnson, who already had eighteen previous wins in the Chase, observed that "those 10 races in the Chase is its own world. The people act and react differently under pressure, and for the last four years we have done a great job in that environment." Denny Hamlin commented, "Reliability is the only thing we need to work on. It's taken us out of the last three Chases, not being reliable. You have to have it to be the champion." Ray Evernham also opined on Hamlin, "I think Denny knows that he has the talent to win the championship. I think that he's got focus right now and a good, veteran crew chief in Mike Ford. If Toyota gives him the speed, he could be a threat."
Practice and qualifying
Three practice sessions were held before the Sunday race—one on Friday, and two on Saturday. The first session lasted 90 minutes, and the second 50 minutes. The third and final session lasted 60 minutes. During the first practice session, Tony Stewart, for the Stewart Haas Racing team, was quickest ahead of Carl Edwards in second and Marcos Ambrose in third. A. J. Allmendinger was scored fourth, and Kyle Busch managed fifth. David Ragan, Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski, Greg Biffle, and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top ten quickest drivers in the session.
Forty-five cars were entered for qualifying, but only forty-three could race because of NASCAR's qualifying procedure. Brad Keselowski clinched his first pole position in the Sprint Cup Series, with a time of 28.515. He was joined on the front row of the grid by Clint Bowyer. Tony Stewart qualified third, Jamie McMurray took fourth, and Juan Pablo Montoya started fifth. Jimmie Johnson, one of the drivers in the Chase for the Sprint Cup, qualified twenty-fifth, while Kevin Harvick was scored twenty-seventh. The two drivers that failed to qualify for the race were Jeff Green and Johnny Sauter. Once qualifying concluded Keselowski said, "I felt I got a shot at the pole before I qualified but you never really know. When I ran the lap I knew I gave up a little bit of time right in the middle of both corners but I had a plan going into it and stuck to it and it worked. I’m really proud of that lap."
On Saturday morning, Stewart was quickest in the second practice session, ahead of Sam Hornish, Jr. in second, and Jamie McMurray in third. Ryan Newman was fourth quickest, and Clint Bowyer took fifth. Kurt Busch, after a penalty for using extra tires, managed sixth. Mark Martin, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, and Juan Montoya followed in the top ten. Of the other drivers in the Chase, Denny Hamlin was scored sixteenth fastest, while Kevin Harvick was scored twenty-fourth. During the third and final practice session, Jamie McMurray, with a fastest time of 29.059, was quickest. Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson followed in second and third with times of 29.177 and 29.184 seconds. Tony Stewart was fourth fastest, ahead of Juan Montoya and Clint Bowyer. Denny Hamlin was scored seventh, Kasey Kahne eighth, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. ninth, and David Reutimann managed tenth. Other Chase drivers were farther down the scoring list, including Kyle Busch in twenty-first and Matt Kenseth in thirtieth.
The race, the twenty-seventh of a total of thirty-six in the season, began at 1:00 p.m. EDT and was televised live in the United States on ESPN. Before the race, weather conditions were partly cloudy with the air temperature around 70 °F (21 °C). Jonathan DeFelice, president of St. Anselm College in Goffstown, New Hampshire, began pre-race ceremonies with the invocation. Anthony Gargiula performed the national anthem, and Mark Corcoran, VP of Industrial and Commercial Sales for Sylvania, gave the command for drivers to start their engines. On the pace laps, two drivers had to move to the rear of the grid; David Gilliland because of an engine change, and Andy Lally because of a transmission change.
Brad Keselowski retained his pole position lead into the first corner, with Clint Bowyer behind him. One lap later, Tony Stewart passed Keselowski to become the new race leader. On the third lap, Juan Pablo Montoya gained second position. By lap 8, Stewart had a lead of over one second. After starting the race in twelfth, Kurt Busch had moved up to ninth position by lap 9. Paul Menard, who started in eighth, fell to eleventh position by lap 12. After losing two positions early, Bowyer had moved back up into third position after passing Keselowski. After nineteen laps, Jimmie Johnson had moved up eight positions to seventeenth, and Kevin Harvick had moved up seven positions to twentieth.
Earnhardt, who began the race in thirty-second, had moved up ten positions to twenty-second by lap 22. Two laps later, Bowyer passed Montoya for second position. Scott Speed spun sideways and collided with the wall four laps later, causing the first caution of the race. On lap 28, Robby Gordon was in the lead by one lap, delaying his pit stop until lap 29. Once the race resumed, Bowyer was the leader followed by McMurray in second. McMurray led the next lap, but Bowyer reclaimed the lead on lap 32. Three laps later, Kyle Busch, in seventh place, collided with the wall, but escaped with minor damage. A collision involving Marcos Ambrose and Menard occurred on lap 39 and prompted the second caution.
Most drivers stayed on the track during the caution, allowing Bowyer to remain the leader on the restart. On lap 48, Michael McDowell drove to the garage because of engine problems. Five laps later, Bowyer led the race, with McMurray 1.3 seconds behind him. Landon Cassill went to the garage due to failing brakes on lap 56. Johnson moved into sixth, as Carl Edwards passed McMurray for second five laps later. By lap 64, Bowyer's lead was over 3.5 seconds. Two laps later, Allmendinger moved into fifth, as Jeff Gordon moved into fourteenth position. Paul Menard, who started eighth, had fallen to twenty-second position by lap 75.
Four laps later, Jimmie Johnson passed Brad Keselowski to claim fifth position. On the 81st lap, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. moved into seventh after passing David Reutimann and Tony Stewart. Two laps later, Kurt Busch, followed by Jeff Burton, passed Reutimann for ninth and tenth. During lap 90, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. passed Keselowski for sixth, as Johnson claimed fourth from McMurray. After 93 laps, Bowyer's lead was over five seconds. Two laps later, green flag pit stops began, as Montoya was the first to pit. On lap 98, Carl Edwards became the new leader after Bowyer came in. One lap later, Kurt Busch, became the new leader, followed by Jeff Gordon and Robby Gordon. On lap 102, Bowyer reclaimed the lead, as the previous leaders pitted. Bobby Labonte and Casey Mears were unable to continue the race after their pit stops.
On lap 113, Jeff Burton moved up to sixth, as Jeff Gordon passed Dale Earnhardt, Jr. for eleventh. A. J. Allmendinger fell to twenty-fifth after pit stops due to running out of fuel. Three laps later, both Jeff Gordon and Earnhardt, Jr. had passed Reutimann for tenth and eleventh. By lap 120, Bowyer had a four second lead over Edwards. Four laps later, Kevin Harvick passed Montoya for fourteenth. On lap 132, Kurt Busch, then Denny Hamlin, passed Keselowski for seventh and eighth positions. Eight laps later, Ryan Newman passed Greg Biffle. On lap 147, Bowyer's lead of over seven seconds was reduced to nothing when the pace car moved on track. During the caution, which was caused by debris, most of the leaders made pit stops. Bowyer led on the restart.
On lap 153, Kyle Busch moved into tenth position after passing Jeff Gordon. Seven laps later, Jeff Burton claimed fourth. On the 162nd lap, Ryan Newman moved up to eleventh, as Keselowski fell to twelfth. After 170 laps, Clint Bowyer had already led the race for 134 of them. Two laps later, Jeff Gordon passed Kyle Busch to move into ninth, as Tony Stewart passed Jeff Burton for fourth. On lap 177, Juan Montoya passed Kyle Busch for tenth position. Afterward, Kyle Busch fell to twelfth after being passed by Ryan Newman. By lap 192, Bowyer had a 3.5 second lead over McMurray. One lap later, Montoya passed Kurt Busch for ninth. On lap 199, Kevin Harvick moved into fifteenth position. Two laps later, Denny Hamlin passed Jeff Burton to gain fifth.
On lap 206, Mark Martin's car suffered a flat tire and the fourth caution was given. Bowyer led on the restart, but one lap later Tony Stewart overtook him. On lap 213, Denny Hamlin spun sideways, prompting the fifth caution. Hamlin fell from fourth to twenty-second position, but did not receive major damage. Stewart led on the restart, as Jeff Gordon claimed second from Bowyer. By lap 221, there was a sixth caution as Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson, and Kyle Busch all spun sideways. After the accident Johnson fell to twenty-fourth, as Stewart again led on the restart. Five laps later, Matt Kenseth spun, causing the seventh caution. Stewart led the drivers back to the green flag, but McMurray became the leader one lap later.
On lap 241, the safety car came out for the eighth and final caution, after Joey Logano collided with the outside wall. McMurray led on the restart, but Stewart reclaimed the lead on lap 247. Seven laps later, Johnson made a pit stop because of a loose wheel. By lap 257, Stewart had a lead of over one second. Five laps later, Denny Hamlin claimed sixth from Harvick. During the 263rd lap, Bowyer passed McMurray for second. Four laps later, Ryan Newman passed Kyle Busch for tenth position. After 269 laps, Stewart lead was over Bowyer was 1.6 seconds. Six laps later, Hamlin moved into fifth position after passing Dale Earnhardt, Jr. During lap 290, Hamlin passed McMurry for third. With two laps remaining, Tony Stewart and Jeff Burton ran out of fuel, returning the lead to Bowyer. Bowyer maintained the lead to win his first race of the 2010 season. Hamlin finished second, ahead of McMurray in third and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in fourth. Kevin Harvick clinched the fifth position, after starting twenty-seventh.
Clint Bowyer appeared in victory lane after his victory lap to start celebrating his first win of the season, in front of a crowd of 95,000 people. After winning the race, he said, "I was really going to push him across. But I didn't know what to do, so I just went to celebrate."
Tony Stewart took his last minute loss of the race with good humor, "We went down swinging. I think I ran me out of fuel." In the subsequent press conference, Denny Hamlin said, "First thing I asked is how many cars on the lead lap, because I wanted to see how bad our day was going to be. I set a goal (of) top 15, and then it was top eight and then top six and, 'Holy cow, we can win this thing.' We just made a heck of a charge at the end." Clint Bowyer was understandably delighted with his victory: "[Crew chief] Shane [Wilson] built a brand new race car and we came here and we were fast right off the truck, and everybody had a lot of confidence, a pep in their step. And we showed it from the time we unloaded to qualifying, practice, we were one of the fastest cars here. That’s what it takes to run at this level, to be a part of that Chase, if we can go and continue to have as much fun as we did this weekend. I know it’s the key, I know it is to my success."
Jimmie Johnson was candid about his performance: "We had a decent car and ran in the top five and top 10 but just didn't end up finishing there." Kevin Harvick was somewhat more upbeat; "We didn't have a great day. We didn't have a great weekend, honestly, and (fifth) says a lot about this team. If we keep doing that on our bad days, we will be in good shape." The race result left Denny Hamlin leading the Driver's Championship with 5,230 points. Clint Bowyer, who finished first, moved to second on 5,195, ten points ahead of Kevin Harvick and twenty-seven ahead of Kyle Busch. In the Manufacturers' Championship, Chevrolet maintained their lead with 197 points. Toyota remained second with 165 points. Ford followed with 123 points, fourteen points ahead of Dodge in fourth. 3.68 million people watched the race on television.
Three days after the race, two teams were given penalties: Richard Childress Racing for Bowyer's car, and Whitney Motorsports for Michael McDowell's car. Richard Childress Racing's penalty, for unauthorised alterations to the rear bodywork of Bowyer's car, included a $150,000 fine for Shane Wilson (Bowyer's crew chief), a six race suspension of Wilson, and both Childress and Bowyer lost 150 owner and driver points. Richard Childress Racing's car chief, Chad Haney, was given probation until December 31, 2010, and suspended from NASCAR until December 3, 2010. Whitney Motorsports' penalty was for engine exhaust valves that did not meet NASCAR's weight requirements. The penalties for that included a $50,000 fine and six race suspension for Jeremy Lafaver, and both Michael McDowell and Dusty Whitney lost 50 driver and owner points.
Asked if he thought Bowyer could still win the championship after this setback, Tony Stewart said, "It's possible for sure. The biggest thing is going to be going to the race track and having that stress of not having his crew chief, not having his car chief and those are two key people on a race weekend ... I can promise you that Childress has the resources to cover this ... it's definitely possible, but everyone else is going to have to have trouble." Bowyer did not lose the victory title for the race itself; NASCAR vice president of competition, Robin Pemberton, commented, "We don't consider taking away the win. If you ask some, they would consider a 150-point penalty with only nine races to go in the Chase a pretty hefty penalty."
Standings after the race
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