Race Rewind: Looking back at the Quicken Loans 400

jutter@charlotteobserver.comJune 16, 2013 

Observations

• The biggest controversy after Sunday's race appeared to be Carl Edwards and his team upset that Roush Fenway Racing teammate Greg Biffle wouldn't slow on the track while he was leading the race to help clean debris from the front of Edwards' car. If this happened early in the race I could perhaps understand it but it was with 35 laps remaining and Biffle in contention for the race victory. Biffle should in no way need to apologize for not helping his teammate in this instance. In fact, it was silly for Edwards and his team to even suggest it to begin with.

• It is already clear how strong an organization Hendrick Motorsports is, but on Sunday when all four of its teams clearly had a chance to challenge for the win and all four ended up with problems, it really opened the door to a vastly different list of challengers for the win. Race fans of other teams surely enjoyed that change of fortunes at Hendrick's expense.

• Road courses have produced some wild races in recent seasons, particularly since NASCAR implemented the double-file restart rule. It will be interesting to see if the new generation Cup car - which has been faster at most tracks - alters that style of racing any as the series heads to Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway next weekend.

Notebook

Harvick on the move: Kevin Harvick improved his impressive run of late, finishing second Sunday to race-winner Greg Biffle. He has not finished worse than ninth in the past five races and has moved from 12th to fourth in the series standings.

Harvick was running third late in the race when Jimmie Johnson hit the wall trying to run leader Greg Biffle down, which allowed Harvick to move into second.

"It's just one of those days where you had to survive. You had to try to keep your track position the best that you could. You had to manage tires and get them on the car because people were having a lot of trouble," Harvick said.

"So, it's definitely one of those races where you had to manage numerous amounts of things to keep yourself in it."

Fast but no finish: For the second week in a row Kasey Kahne had a fast car and was considered a contender for the race only to see his chances quickly disappear in the race.

While leading the race on Lap 104, Kahne's right-front tire blew out and he slammed hard into the wall in Turn 2, bringing an end to his race. Last weekend at Pocono, Kahne was forced to the garage at the start because of a broken U joint that had to be replaced.

"I had no indication. We were just cruising," said Kahne, who dropped to 12th in points. "I knew it was going to be a battle with Jimmie (Johnson) today. He's fast and I thought we were really good."

Gordon frustration builds: Jeff Gordon had hopes of earning a good finish or even a win on Sunday but instead ended up crashing out for the second time in four races.

Gordon got collected in a wreck on Lap 7 when Bobby Labonte spun in front of him. Gordon finished

"I'm a pretty patient person, but it's testing my frustration level and my confidence that is the biggest thing. We all know how big confidence is in this sport, any sport really, Gordon said. "I don't want to see the team get down and I don't want to see myself get down."

Stewart moves into Top 10: It was just a month or so ago many wondered if Tony Stewart would qualify for the Chase. After his fifth place finish on Sunday, Stewart has now moved into the Top 10 in points for the first time this season.

Stewart hasn't finished worse than seventh in his last four races and gained 11 spots in the series standings during that span.

5 key moments

1 . Hendrick Motorsports' bad day started early when Jeff Gordon got knocked out of contention after getting caught up in a wreck on Lap 7.

2 . While leading the race, Kasey Kahne blew a tire and slammed into the wall on Lap 104, bringing an early send to his day.

3. Dale Earnhardt Jr., who led the second-most laps Sunday, saw his chance at a win disappear when his engine blew up after 131 laps.

4. Greg Biffle moved into the lead on Lap Lap 169 and looked like he would have to fight off Jimmie Johnson for the win until Johnson had a flat tire and hit the wall with three laps remaining.

5. Biffle held off Kevin Harvick for his first win of the season and the 1,000th NASCAR victory for Ford Motor Co.

Next race

Toyota/Save Mart 350

Where: Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway

When: 3 p.m. ET Sunday

TV: TNT

Radio: Performance Racing Network

Last year’s winner: Clint Bowyer



Utter: 704-358-5113; Twitter: @jim_utter

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