A green-white-checker finish saw Denny Hamlin grab the lead and hold off Jeff Gordon to take his series leading fourth win of the season.
The latest “new” Bristol is still not the Bristol of old. But between the buzz, the wrecks and a decent crowd, the August night race resembled its former self for the first time since the pre-Chase era.
Jimmie Johnson had the dominant car once Mark Martin was speared by the pit wall opening in a scary, mid-race crash. But as J.J. was strolling to what would have been his series-leading fourth victory, a valve spring failed with less than 15 miles left to run. That handed Greg Biffle Christmas in August, gift-wrapping him a second victory after a green-white-checkered finish and a pesky push from Michigan native Brad Keselowski.
This one wasn’t over until the checkered flag was thrown. Wow.
Jimmie Johnson, who had dominated the race, had his car get out from under him on the final restart and collected second-place Matt Kenseth. From there, it was on.
Michael Waltrip Racing had a coming out party at Sonoma. The organization led 86 of the 112 laps with Clint Bowyer doing the majority of the work with 71 of those 86 laps. The race went two extra circuits thanks to a late-race spin but Bowyer held off charges from Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart over the last two spins around the road course to notch his sixth victory of his career and third in the history of MWR.
Junior wins again and all is sweetness and light around the globe. In fact I predict tomorrow we’ll see Romney and Obama sharing a single root beer float with two straws at the local Rexall and deciding the election by thumb wrestling. I predict the Iranians will give up their nuclear ambitions, North Korea will schedule democratic elections, the stock market will rise 5000 points and the Carpenters “Close To You” will soar back to the top of the Billboard charts. (For you non-88 fans, pssst, I agree, the end of the race was about as boring as it gets.)