Welcome race fans! The NASCAR Banking 500 brought to you by Bank of America is the 31st race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and the fifth race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Weather was a factor on Thursday. Practice for Sprint Cup and NASCAR Nationwide Series were shortened, but they managed to get qualifying in on Thursday night.
Jimmy Johnson qualified on the pole with a speed of 192.376, setting a new track record. The 48 team was also the fastest in both practices. 5 Mark Martin starts second. This race is the only race in the Chase held on Saturday night under the stars.
71 this race is Mike Bliss, who also raced in the Nationwide race Friday night. 02 is David Gilliland in an extra Joe Gibbs Racing car. 21 is Bill Elliott, running a partial schedule. He got in on speed. 08 is former Champion Terry Labonte, who had to use his provisional to get into the race. 36 Michael McDowell, 09 Sterling Marlin, 66 Dave Blaney and 37 Travis Kvapil failed to qualify.
47 Marcos Ambrose is the in-race reporter. Brian France, Theresa Earnhardt, Richard Petty and Junior Johnson started the engines. If you’ll recall, this past Wednesday, the first five inductees to the NASCAR Hall of Fame were decided upon. The five were Bill France, Sr. and Jr., Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt and Junior Johnson. (See previous post) Thus they started the race. The race is 334 laps for 500 miles on this 1.5 mile track, at Lowes Motor Speedway in Concord, NC.During the pre-race festivities the blowers were out drying the track. But they got underway on time.
So, here we go! 5 Mark Martin leads the first lap. The first caution comes out on lap three when 77 Sam Hornish, Jr. bottoms out with sparks flying and spins out. Luckily, no one gets into him. 5 chooses the outside for the restart. 48 Johnson takes the lead. 18 Kyle Busch, in pink for breast cancer awareness month, tries to get by 25 Brad Keselowski, but can’t do it.
The second caution comes out again for 77 who slides into pit road. He comes out ahead of the pace car with right rear damage, but stays on the lead lap. 48 chooses the inside and stays in the lead. 39 Ryan Newman and 9 Kasey Kahne battle side by side for third. 20 Joey Logano joins in, but 9 pulls away. 20 and 42 Juan Pablo Montoya (in a blue Lysol car) battle for sixth, but 42 can’t get by. 20 finally gets by 39 after racing side by side for several laps. There is precipitation in the area. 39 and 11 Denny Hamlin battle for sixth. 17 Matt Kenseth gets into the battle.
The third caution comes out for rain. It’s just a drizzle, and they stay on the track. When they pit, 17 takes two tires to lead the race. 20 follows 9 onto pit road, gets too close and slides past his pit stall. They have to back him up. 55 Michael Waltrip stays on the track to lead a lap, then pits. 08 T. Labonte stays out to lead, and pits just before the Green Flag. 17 and 48 battle for the lead. 48 gets loose and 17 stays in the lead. 5 and 48 battle for second. 83 Brian Vickers and 9 race side by side. 48 takes the lead.
39 in a Transformers car with Optimus Prime on the hood battles 24 Jeff Gordon in another Transformers car with Mega Tron on his hood. 11 gets by 17 for third. 11 takes the lead while the broadcasters show us 07 Casey Mears and 42 battling. The Transformers cars are racing each other hard. 18 and 48 battle, with 18 getting by. 42 drives around 48. 42 flies by 18. 48 gets by 18. 07 and 42 battle and 18 goes between them to take the position.
17 starts Green Flag Pitting. 39 fumbles the lug nuts. And 17 is back in the lead after all the pitting. 48 and 18 battle, with 48 getting by. 42 drives by 18, with 18 nearly getting into the wall. The fourth caution comes out for 18 getting sideways in front of 9. 7 Robby Gordon is the Lucky Dog and gets back on the lead lap. 24 takes two tires to lead. Five cars get waved around before the Green Flag. 5 and 42 battle. 88 dale Earnhardt, Jr. is slowing down with transmission problems. 6 David Ragan pushes 42 past 5. 11 and 16 Greg Biffle battle for second, with 16 getting by. 11 gets back by 16. At the restart, 42 gets into 33 Clint Bowyer and 5 gets into 42 with 83 also having damage. 83 comes into the pits to fix the car. 42 falls way back. 5 has a hole in his nose. 33 can live with back bumper damage. 9 and 17 battle for fifth, with 9 taking the spot. 9 gets by 16 for fourth. 42 goes a lap down. 2 Kurt Busch gets by 1 Martin Truex, Jr. for ninth. 5 is falling back. 42 is way too loose and many cars drive by him.
The fifth caution comes out for 42 spinning into the pits. He was to be the Lucky Dog, but he caused the caution. Instead, he looses two laps. 42 comes back into the pits to put a red Target quarter panel on the car. 11 comes out of the pits first to lead, and chooses the outside. 24 takes the lead. 17 gets by 11 for second. 33 a black car with Count Chocula on the hood, 47 and 6 David Ragan are three wide, and 47 tucks in behind 6.
The sixth caution comes out when the Target patch falls off 42. 02 David Gilliland gets the free pass and stays on the lead lap. In the pits, the 5 team is using a blow torch on the nose patch. 11 drops a valve and has to head to the garage. 17 comes out of the pits first and chooses the inside. 24, in third pushes 17. 2 and 9 both get around 33 in the middle. 99 Carl Edwards is pitting with a loose wheel. 24 and 9 battle for third, with 9 getting by.
48, leading, has trash on the grill. 9 gets by 48, to take the lead but pulls away before the trash can fly off. 48 gets behind lapped car, 42 to get the trash off. 00 David Reutimann pits with a vibration. 31 Jeff Burton drives around 14 Tony Stewart. 18, 1 and 48 start Green Flag Pitting once again, with 9 leading. 2 leads when 9 pits. After it all, 9 is back in the lead. 08 and 7 were too fast.
48 gets by 17 for second during the commercial. 2 and 20 get by 24. 2 and 20 battle for fifth. 16 is fighting leader 9 to stay on the lead lap. The seventh caution caution comes out when 13 Max Papis blows the engine. 12 David Stremme had gotten by 5, and is the first car a lap down. 16 stayed ahead of the leader and stays on the lead lap. 48 chooses the inside for the restart. 17 dives below 24 and they battle for third. 24 takes the spot.
The eighth caution comes out when 02 gets loose and gets hard into the wall. 5 Mark Martin is the Lucky Dog, and back on the lead lap. There is a quickie pit stop, where all cars may pit at the same time. The leaders stay out. The ninth caution comes out when 99 blows up, dropping fluid on the track, with 31 laps to go. 24 got by 9 for second. 25 and 20 battle with 25 taking the spot. 9 gets by 17 for third. They are racing four wide! 12, 16, 39 were three wide. 14 makes it four wide. 39 backs off.
The tenth caution comes out when 12 gets into the wall and into 16, who spins into the grass. 48 and 24 battle for the lead. 48 gets loose, but saves it. 24 takes the lead. 9 goes by 17 for third. 48 and 24 battle for the lead. 9 goes by 24 on the top for second. 17 gets by 24 for third. 33 and 20 battle for fifth. 9 and 17 battle for second. 17 finally gets by. 20 and 24 battle for fifth, with 24 keeping the position.
And 48 Jimmy Johnson wins the NASCAR Banking 500. This race is the last one with Lowes as the sponsor of the track. And Jimmy wins with Lowes on his hood. No winner of this race has gone on to win the Championship. Let’s see of Jimmy can be the first and claim his fourth Title in a row!
Brought to you by Sheila Hawley