Rewinding the tape on Saturday night’s wild one at Richmond International Raceway:
UP – Richard Childress Racing
Three teams in the top five in points? That's good any way you put it.
UP – NASCAR
Good, quick calls on parking Michael Waltrip for retaliating on the track and penalizing Denny Hamlin for intentionally causing a caution.
UP – Travis Kvapil
Not garnering much attention, but he continues to find his way into the top 20.
Denny Hamlin said parking his car on the track after his flat tire, which drew a penalty from NASCAR for intentionally causing a caution, was no big deal. He said he wasn't going to win the race anyway.
In reality, the caution helped set into motion the circumstances that resulted in Dale Earnhardt Jr. being involved in a wreck and Clint Bowyer claiming a win.
Had Hamlin simply headed to pit road, no caution would have been displayed and Earnhardt Jr. likely would have extended his lead.
Would it have guaranteed Earnhardt Jr. a win? No. But a caution did guarantee Kyle Busch a spot on his rear bumper on the restart.
Richmond International Raceway's streak of consecutive sell-outs of its Cup races, which dates to 1992, appeared in jeopardy entering the weekend as tickets were still available.
When a news release was circulated Saturday afternoon proclaiming the race sold out, it was met with much skepticism.
Yet when the race started, it was hard to see any empty seats.
The prerace flyover by the Blue Angels was both impressive and scary. It was also brilliantly timed. Bravo.
Busch won't change driving style
Kyle Busch said he would not be a true race car driver if he changed his driving style based on who he was competing against.
Busch was already hearing it from fans of Dale Earnhardt Jr. after the two wrecked while racing for the lead on Lap 398. And the displeasure is likely only to grow.
"I mean, if I went out there on that final restart and just gave way to the No. 88 (Earnhardt Jr.), then that wouldn't be a true race car driver," Busch said. "So, you know, I had to do what I had to do to win for my team, to win for (my sponsors). You know, unfortunately circumstances happened."
Busch also received a post-race pit road visit from an angry Rick Pigeon, who works Earnhardt Jr.'s team and used to work with Busch's team when he was with Hendrick Motorsports last season.
"The fact that he came down and confronted me saying, 'Why did I do that?' thinking I did it deliberately, was beyond insane," Busch said.
Gordon rallies from the back
Jeff Gordon got off to a bad start before Saturday night's race even started.
When his team took his No. 24 Chevrolet through pre-race inspection, the engine wouldn't start, so the starter had to be replaced. However, since Richmond was an impound race, any changes made after qualifying result in loss of starting position. So Gordon had to start from the rear of the field.
He fell a lap down early, got it back and eventually made it into the top five before finishing ninth.
"From the start, to start 43rd, and go a lap down and have to get our lap back, I'm really proud of this team. That was a great battle; it was a great fight," Gordon said.
"It showed what we're made of. To come home with a top 10 was good. We didn't make a lot of gains in the points, but we didn't lose anything."
Stewart hangs on for top 5
Despite problems with his alternator, Tony Stewart was able to salvage a top-five finish from what could have been a near-disaster.
The alternator problem sapped the electrical power available in his No. 20 Chevrolet and to compensate Stewart had to spend the final 100 laps of the race without air-conditioning or brake fans. He still finished fourth.
"To be able to run the last 100 laps like that and not have brake fans, which is a huge deal here at Richmond, I think we did pretty well," Stewart said.
Quality of racing 'poor,' Newman says
Ryan Newman struggled through a difficult night and while he came away satisfied with a sixth-place finish, he doesn't think the fans did.
Newman said his team was able to make "something out of not much," in part because of a two-tire pit stop late in the race.
"I don't think this new car has been much of a race car. I'm not at all happy with the racing that we have," Newman said. "I don't think the fans are enjoying it. The racing itself is poor.
"The cars aren't made to be a mobile race car. They're made to be versatile and that's not cool, either."
Two in a row
Mark Martin earned his second consecutive top-five finish with Dale Earnhardt Inc.'s No. 8 Chevrolet team and his best finish since 2007 with his third place Saturday night.
"If we can keep running like this, we will see the (car) in Victory Lane. Tony Gibson (crew chief) and these guys just are doing a great job each and every week," said Martin.
Martin got a prime view of the battle between Busch and Earnhardt Jr.
"I could see what was happening there, but I was having to drive my own race car," the driver said. "So I can't describe it; I can't tell you exactly."
Charlotte testing starts Monday
A two-day test for Sprint Cup teams begins Monday at Lowe's Motor Speedway. At least 48 teams are expected to participate.
Testing will take place from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. both days, with breaks from noon to 1 p.m. and 5 to 6 p.m. Of the six individual sessions scheduled over the two days, teams will be permitted to test during any four of them.
Lap 207 - A.J. Allmendinger stays out while most of his rivals make pit stops so he can collect five bonus points for leading a lap. It's the only lap Denny Hamlin doesn't lead in the first 382 of the race.
Lap 383 - Hamlin develops a slow leak in his right-front tire and, as he slows, Dale Earnhardt Jr. passes him for the lead. It's the first pass for the lead on the track for the race.
Lap 391 - Hamlin's tire finally goes down and he scrubs the wall. He comes to a stop on the track before a caution is displayed, then restarts his car and heads down pit road. NASCAR penalizes him for intentionally causing a caution, which bunches the field again.
Lap 398 - While racing side-by-side for the lead in Turn 4, Earnhardt Jr. and Kyle Busch wreck. Earnhardt Jr.'s car slams the wall and Clint Bowyer passes Busch just before the caution is displayed.
Lap 410 - Bowyer holds off Busch and Mark Martin to earn the unexpected victory, his first of the season and second of his career.
Dodge Challenger 500
Where: Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday. TV: Fox Sports. Radio: Motor Racing Network. Last year’s winner: Jeff Gordon.