RICHMOND, Va. – Clint Bowyer earned his first Sprint Cup Series victory of the season.
The question is whether anyone noticed.
A handful of exciting storylines developed throughout Saturday night's Dan Lowry 400 only to see each and every one cut short by wild series of events in the final 20 laps that helped Bowyer pull out the victory at Richmond International Raceway.
First, pole-winner Denny Hamlin completely dominated most of the race only to lose the lead with 20 laps left as a slow leak developed in his right-front tire.
Then, Dale Earnhardt Jr., mired in a career-long 71-race winless streak took the lead and appeared ready to end the victory drought at the track where he last won. Then he hit the wall after contact with Kyle Busch with three laps remaining.
Right before the caution was displayed for Earnhardt Jr.'s wreck, Bowyer had scooted around Busch to take the lead. He held off Busch and Mark Martin on a two-lap overtime to capture the win.
"We knew we had that all day, didn't we?" Bowyer said jokingly over his team radio as he drove around the track toward Victory Lane.
Hamlin still led 366 laps Saturday, breaking the record held by his childhood hero Bill Elliott of the most laps led in a 400-lap race at the track under its current three-fourth-mile configuration.
Hamlin broke out to an early lead, dominating the first 66 laps until the first caution, caused by Johnny Sauter's wreck in Turn 4. All of the lead-lap cars pitted for tires and fuel, with Hamlin continuing to hold the lead on the restart on Lap 73.
The race was slowed again on Lap 129 for a debris caution. Again, all lead-lap cars pitted for fuel and tires, and again Hamlin restarted out front.
Juan Pablo Montoya spun on Lap 140 to bring out the race's third caution. Jeff Gordon, who had to start the race from the rear because of a change made to his car after qualifying, got back on the lead lap during the caution.
Only a few drivers farther back in the pack elected to pit and Hamlin led on the restart on Lap 145.
Regan Smith and A.J. Allmendinger spun on Lap 205, which brought out the fourth caution of the race. All the lead-lap cars except for Allmendinger pitted for tires and gas, with Allmendinger staying out to collect five points for leading a lap. It was the first lap Hamlin had not led.
The race was slowed again on Lap 220 when Brian Vickers and Paul Menard wrecked. Hamlin continued his hold on the top spot on the restart on Lap 227, with Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Busch right behind him.
The race took a wild turn on Lap 230, when a 12-car wreck erupted in Turn 3 that collected points leader Jeff Burton, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Newman, Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards and seven others.
It took a nearly 22-minute red flag to clean up the debris and when the race restarted on Lap 236, Hamlin remained out front, followed by Kyle Busch, Martin, Martin Truex Jr. and Greg Biffle.
With less than 45 laps remaining, Michael Waltrip was parked by NASCAR officials for retaliating against Casey Mears after their two cars got together on the track.