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Race 7: Pep Boys Auto 500

Jimmie Johnson started from the front due to qualifying being washed out by rain. He led early and things were looking good for him until lap 89, when he made a green flag pit stop. He got caught speeding on pit road and had to serve a penalty. After serving the penality, he was one lap down running in 30th. On lap 130, he got the free pass when Kasey Kahne spun and brought out the caution. By lap 230, he was up to 13th. On the final caution at lap 313, Johnson made a pit stop to take four tires. Johnson restarted 11th on lap 317. Over the final eight laps, Johnson passed eight cars to finish second.

Carl Edwards led early, taking the lead from Jimmie Johnson on lap 20, and again on lap 45. Edwards ran at or near the front all day. He had minor issues with Johnson on pit road, as Edwards would pull forward in his pit box, while Johnson would pull in and leave his right rear wheel out of the box, which is legal. Edwards had to cut harder to get out and wouldn’t beat Johnson off the pits. Edwards’ crew cheif Bob Osborne was also not pleased with the team’s pit stops and he voiced his displeasure. On lap 289, Edwards made contact with Dale Earnhardt Jr on pit road, but he did not suffer damage. On a restart on lap 309, Denny Hamlin led Edwards to the green. Edwards was right on his back bumper. Hamlin spun his tires, and Edwards was able to get to the inside and make the pass for the lead. On the final restart on lap 317, Edwards checked out and won the race by 2.684 seconds.

Greg Biffle had a somewhat uneventful day. He ran in the top 10 early, but lost a lap and ran in the teens. On lap 210, he got the free pass. He drove to a quiet 10th place finish.

Jeff Burton started up near the front, but by lap 75 he had dropped to 18th place. On lap 113, he was penalized for speeding off pit road. By lap 160, he was up to 16th. On lap 259, Burton was running 17th one lap down. He had a tire rub. On lap 289, he go the free pass. On lap 302, Dave Blaney was slowing and Burton moved to the inside of Blaney. The two made contact, sending Blaney spinning. Burton and Reed Sorenson both got into Blaney’s spinning car and Juan Pablo Montoya got into the back of Sorenson. the contact sent Sorenson down into Burton, turning Burton into the outside wall. Then Burton slid down the track and made contact with Montoya. He finished 18th.

Kevin Harvick started in sixth, but quickly dropped to 12th in the first 17 laps. By lap 75, he was 17th. He managed to finish 13th.

Jeff Gordon ran in the top 5 for the early part of the race, and ran near the front for the rest of it. Gordon finished 9th.

Clint Bowyer started near the front but quickly dropped, much like teammate Kevin Harvick. By lap 60, he fell to 23rd position. He reported that the car was too loose. By lap 250, he was up to 19th position. On lap 298, while he was leaving pit road, he made contact with Juan Pablo Montoya, who was having a great run. Bowyer finished 20th.

After starting eigth, Tony Stewart fell to 21st position by lap 30. By lap 160, Stewart was running 18th, but by lap 270 he was down to 20th. He finished 17th.

Matt Kenseth had perhaps his best car in the Chase and took the lead on lap 89 when Carl Edwards pitted under green. The next lap, Kenseth pitted giving the lead to Dale Earnhardt Jr. He took the lead again on lap 112, and again on lap 133, and again on lap 221. He lost the lead on lap 254, when he lost the race off pit road. All told, Kenseth led 128 laps and finished fourth.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. had a strong car early and ran near the front all day. He took the lead on lap 90, when Matt Kenseth pitted. He gave up the lead on the next lap to pit. On lap 134, Jr pitted under caution. His crew did not get the windshield tear-off off when he stopped, but it blew off without issues when the field took the green. On lap 196, he made slight contact with the wall but was able to continue with no problems. On lap 289, as Jr was leaving pit road, he hit Kurt Busch on the right side, then bounced off Busch and hit Edwards on the left. On the final restart, Jr was running sixth. Over the next eight laps, Jr dropped to 11th where he finished. He said that the hit on pit road knocked the toe out.

Denny Hamlin had a very quiet early part of the race. He reported a vibration but managed to make it into pit road on lap 86. On lap 255, Hamlin used a quick pit stop to win the race of pit road, taking the lead. By lap 275, he had a nearly two second lead on Matt Kenseth. On the second to last restart, Hmlin led Carl Edwards to the green. Hamlin spun his tires twice, allowing Edwards to take the lead on the inside. In the closing laps, Edwards was pulling away from Hamlin, while Jimmie Johnson was coming to the front in a hurry. On the final lap, Hamlin got a little loose and Johnson took second place from him on the outside. Hamlin finished third.

Kyle Busch had a quiet day and stayed out of trouble. He ran near the front for most of the day. He complained of a loose racecar early, and the team made major changes to it. He quietly finished fifth. The team had its rear end housing confiscated by NASCAR. The housing will be taken to NASCAR’s Research & Development center to check its measurements.