|Chaotic night at Charlotte shakes up Chase|
October 16, 2005 (Concord, NC)
By Linda Przygodski - Motorsport.com
It was survival of the fittest at Lowe's Motor Speedway Saturday night for the UAW-GM Quality 500. When it comes down to the final lap at Homestead-Miami Speedway five races from now, the tire tribulations of this race will be the hot topic as Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, and Rusty Wallace all lost valuable points due to massive failures.
1. Tony Stewart: Finished 25th, ties with Jimmie Johnson for points lead After the caution on lap 62, Stewart thought pit road was closed and did not pit with the leaders. The mistake dropped him to 35th on the restart. He was able to get back to the front of the field by lap 161.
His luck ran out on lap 216 when he cut a right rear tire and hit the wall. He fell seven laps down.
"It was the most screwed up night I have ever seen," said an angry Stewart. "All I want to do is go home right now; I don't care about anything else."
1. Jimmie Johnson: Winner, ties with Tony Stewart for points lead
Johnson was forced to start at the rear of the field after the engine had to be changed on the No. 48 Chevrolet. He had worked his way back up to the top five when battery issues bit the Johnson.
He had to switch to his backup battery and fell to the 10th spot. Johnson pitted on lap 243 but fell victim to a flat tire shortly after while the field was still under caution causing him to restart 29th.
Johnson took two-tires on pit stops at lap 306 to get back up to third. He battled in the races closing laps to win the event.
"Man what a night," said Johnson. "It just goes with my motto about the championship 'if it is meant to be it is meant to be'."
3. Greg Biffle: Finished 3rd (-11)
The No. 16 Ford took the lead after service stops on lap 94 but his Ford 'was too loose to drive' sending him back to sixth by lap 104. Stayed in the top-ten the rest of the night and managed to race his way to a third place result.
"You know it was kind of a different night," said Biffle. "It was the first kind of racing I have done like this. Kind of like restrictor plate racing where you just kind of hang out and wait. I was only running the car at 75- 80%, man it was fast out there."
4. Ryan Newman: Finished 7th (-17)
Tire problems on lap 24 forced Newman in to the pits for a green flag stop which trapped the No. 12 Dodge a lap down. Newman got the 'lucky dog' on lap 35 and regained status on the lead lap.
By lap 250, Newman had found his way back to the lead of the race. He dropped back a bit in the races end finishing seventh.
"I babied it a lot," said Newman of his car. "It was really disappointing, the tire situation and the racetrack. I don't have a whole lot of nice things to say about that, but we salvaged a good day after having some bad things go on."
5. Mark Martin: Finished 5th (-51)
Quiet, uneventful night for Martin.
"We had a great race," said Martin. "I guess fifth is a great finish, but we are still a little bit disappointed. It was a great car and a great effort though and I am proud of my guys."
6. Carl Edwards: Finished 10th (-54)
Good, clean run for the No. 99 Ford.
"To make it into the top-10 was OK," commented Edwards. "We had a better car that that. We were just too tight and we kept destroying the tires."
7. Rusty Wallace: Finished 24th (-92)
The No. 2 Dodge got a right rear front tire on lap 210 forcing him to pit road under green. To add to his difficulties he was too fast entering pit road and received a stop-and-go penalty from NASCAR.
Made up his lap but had to make an unscheduled green flag pit stop on lap 296 falling back another two laps.
He fell two laps down and then wrecked on lap 329 causing the 14th caution.
"I just lost it," said Wallace. "I had a loose tire, a flat tire, and loose lug nuts. Bad night."
8. Jeremy Mayfield: Finished 11th (-115)
The No. 19 Dodge changed an engine and had to start at the rear of the field. He was able to stay out of any real trouble and grab 11th place.
"It was a good day," Mayfield said. "I didn't have a really good car but we came home where it counted there in the end."
9. Matt Kenseth: Finished 26th (-124)
Kenseth suffered a right front tire failure on lap 62 that caused extensive sheet metal damage on the No. 17 Ford. Kenseth fell several laps down. He got back on the track but had another right front flat tire on lap 74 forcing him into the garage for repairs.
He returned to competition ten laps down.
10. Kurt Busch: Finished 2nd (-142)
Consistent even run for the No. 97 Ford team.
"We did what we needed to do and I thought it turned out well," Busch summed up his night. "I just came up a bit short on Jimmie Johnson."
ON THE BUBBLE:
11. Elliott Sadler sits 11th points ahead of 12th (Kevin Harvick) Sadler led the most laps but a flat tire ruined his night and trapped him in a 27th place finish. Luckily, the two cars he is battling 11th place for (Harvick and Jamie McMurray) also had troubles.
"It was a wild night," said Sadler. "This was by far the best car I've had in seven years of racing in the Nextel Cup series."