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Kyle Busch! In a 1-2-3 Toyota finish. And what to make of another Montoya-Newman run-in?

  Jeff Gordon (24) is in deep trouble here. The racing over the last hour was wild (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern


   Kyle Busch upstaged teammate and hometown favorite Denny Hamlin to win Saturday night's Richmond 400 – the Matthew & Daniel Hansen 400 – in a fuel mileage finish.  
   Busch ran the last 107 laps on a tank of fuel, right on the edge. And he ran out of gas while doing a victory burnout.
   "We just got through traffic a little better than Denny and got the win," Busch said.
    "I learned from Denny here last fall, I won't say what, but he probably knows. Once we got out and had to go through traffic, traffic really fell our way.
    "The new tire Goodyear brought here made it difficult for all the teams, but we made the best of it."
   "I really thought those guys would run out of gas," fifth-place finisher Carl Edwards said. "I thought we had the right strategy."
   At least Edwards remains atop the Sprint Cup standings as the stock car tour heads this week to Darlington, S.C.
   Busch's crew chief, Dave Rogers, kept on his driver to save fuel down the stretch.

     Kyle Busch, after his second Sprint Cup tour win of the spring, salutes the Richmond crowd (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   Hamlin needed a good finish after a rough start to the season.
   "It was very important to have a smooth race," Hamlin said. "We were really equal, but we just got beat.
    "Still, this is what we needed to get this team back on track. We're going to get back in the top-10. Hey, it's my best finish of the season...and you can't be angry at second."

   With about 150 laps to go, things turned wild. Up till then, the race had been fairly tame.
   Well, except for that Juan Pablo Montoya-Ryan Newman run-in.
   Newman and Montoya have a history that goes back to 2006 at Homestead. And this time they were at each other again. First Newman appeared to squeeze Montoya into a tight spot, and Montoya banged the wall, then needing repairs that cost him two laps. Later Montoya ran into the back of Newman and spun him. Newman managed to stay off the wall.
   Newman went straight to the NASCAR hauler after the race "to see how they're going to handle it. I just want it to be handled fair. I know he ran up on me (first) off two and clipped him, but I'm not going to dump myself into the wall. But for him to retaliate the way he did didn't show much class."
    Montoya himself after the race waved off any interviews.
    Hamlin put that incident into perspective: "Every time you see Montoya wrecked, you know what's coming. But, gosh, you can't just go crash someone every time something happens like that. People make mistakes. And things like that (retaliating) make it that much harder to make the chase."

     Ryan Newman: not a bit happy with Juan Pablo Montoya. (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

    One of the hardest hits of the night was Jeff Gordon's, driver's side into the inside concrete wall, where there is no Safer barrier soft wall.
    "I wish they had a Safer barrier there," Gordon said. "I seem to be able to find the ones without the Safer barrier.
    "It knocked the wind out of me. Man, I hit a ton…and hit right on the corner where you don't want to hit. It definitely got my attention. It rang my bell
    "I was hoping that I spun quick enough that I wasn't going to spin to the inside wall. And then I hit really, really hard."
     The crash came on a night when Gordon had a potentially winning car, one of the top-four on the track.  
    "I don't know if we had a car capable of winning, but we were certainly going to give it a heck of a try," Gordon said.
    "With 100 to go, and everyone was just getting so impatient, you had to dive in there three-wide. I don't know what happened behind me but somebody shot up and got my left rear and around we went.
    "Any time you have cars that stay out (while others stop for fresh tires), and cars that take two (tires), cars that take four, they are going to be diving in there taking it three-wide. I was having to do it too. I'm sure not blaming anybody else (for the incident). Just kind of the circumstances when we're like that."
   The night was a great one for Kasey Kahne and the Red Bull team, which is in the market for a driver to replace Kahne for 2012. Kahne, on 'loan' from Rick Hendrick, is in effective serving as a salesman for the Red Bull team in its search. And Kahne, despite last week's knee surgery, was in the thick of the battle all night, in his best performance of the season. And teammate Brian Vickers was up front part of the race too.
   However Jimmie Johnson and teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. were never factors in the race, surprisingly.
   And Kurt Busch, who got caught up in several aggravating incidents, was perhaps the angriest driver during the three-hour race, ripping team owner Roger Penske and the team for what he considered less than competitive equipment. Busch used some rather harsh language in making his point. Penske was not here for the race; the Indy-car tour is running in Brazil.

              Results of Saturday night's Richmond 400 -- the Matthew & Daniel Hansen 400


    Hot Saturday night action in Richmond, particularly for Juan Pablo Montoya and Ryan Newman (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

Roger Penske fielding an

Roger Penske fielding an uncompetitive stock car? Who does Kurt Busch think he is, Bobby Allison circa 1976?

Typical short track - long on crashes, long on stupid drivers, short on good clean passing up front other than Martin Truex's three-abreast surge.

Some of the established stars

Some of the established stars seem to work on a one way street. It's alright for me to bump you but not the other way around. Newman has no problem running hard and if that means dumping another driver, so be it. Yet he runs to the trailer when it happens to him. I am still trying to figure out how Kenseth got away jumping up a lane and chopping off Reuttiman on a restart when his teammate was penalized for doing the same thing at daytona. Then he drives like an idiot and wrecks a bunch of cars shortly after that. Kurt Busch was running around playing bumper cars all night. On the plus side, I can't stand Harvick but he drove hard but clean the entire race. He seems to have figured out that if you rough someone up now, expect to get payback. And that can sure hurt your Chase chances. Ask Kyle how his late season feud with Reuttiman worked out for him in last years Chase.

One of the downsides I've noticed with the Chase format is that some drivers feel that because they were/are Chase participants they are owed certain rights. "I am a Chaser.... Move over for me"

And with the new Chase and Points format it's going to look like the wild wild west after the All-Star break.

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