Could someone remind us all where we were racing this week? Three-wide at the start, a long green-flag run in the middle, multiple cautions, and then fuel mileage to decide a winner.
Were we racing at New Hampshire or were we at Michigan?
The Sylvania 300 certainly offered every kind of racing we have seen all season. From the drop of the green flag, it was as though the teams decided to just let loose and go for everything they had. Many of the Chase contenders had a day of nightmares.
Jimmie Johnson had a few incidents on the track, including a spin with Kyle Busch, and then a loose wheel. He would not recover from having to come to pit road, coming home a disappointing 25th. The finish dropped the four-time defending champion from second to seventh in the standings.
At the same time, some teams had trouble early but were able to recover nicely. Kevin Harvick struggled all race long to the point where he was badgering the crew.
Yet, when the time came to go, he went hard and brought home a top-five.
Denny Hamlin had to recover from a spin, thanks to contact from Carl Edwards, and was able to drive all the way to a runner-up finish. That would be enough to keep him in the points lead at race's end.
But, the man of the hour is Clint Bowyer. He ran up front all afternoon, leading the most laps and looking to make a statement. But, carburetor problems early hampered him on restarts as he would give up the lead to Tony Stewart and Jamie McMurray after the green waved again.
Late in the race, as the teams began trying to save fuel, everyone at the front was concerned that they would run out. No one more than Stewart and Bowyer, as they both came in on lap 208 to top off. It was a matter of who could save enough, or who will run out first.
Coming to the white flag, we got the answer.
Stewart's No. 14 went dry and Bowyer swung wide to take the lead, but had to make sure he didn't have any issues when he came around the final time.
He would not and took the checkered flag for his first win of the season at the same track he got his first ever victory in NASCAR Sprint Cup competition.
Stewart, he would coast the final lap around New Hampshire and be credited with a 24th-place run.
Bowyer's victory was correctly picked by two of our creatures. At the same time, all but three had finishes in the top-10. It was a very impressive day for everyone.
Here is how our creatures fared once the checkered flag flew in the Sylvania 300:
Dustin Parks (5,235) Clint Bowyer WON (5)
James Broomhead (5,210) Denny Hamlin finished second (4)
Christopher Leone (5,210) Denny Hamlin finished second (4)
Rob Tiongson (5,205) Clint Bowyer WON (2)
Alan Wade (5,165) Kevin Harvick finished fifth (1)
Patti Rodisch (5,142) Ryan Newman finished eighth (0)
Kara Martin (5,118) Jimmie Johnson finished 25th (3)
Misan Ayuka (5,116) Tony Stewart finished 24th (2)
Kyle Brandt (5,116) Tony Stewart finished 24th (2)
Billy Fellin (5,030) NO PICK SENT (3)
NEXT RACE-We now go from the "Magic Mile" to the "Monster Mile."
The track changes completely as the racing surface goes from asphalt to concrete. The banking goes from a barely noticeable seven degrees to a very evil 24 degrees. More than anything else, the racing becomes tighter and more aggressive.
Next Sunday, it is the Dover International Speedway that plays host to race No. 2 in the 2010 Chase for the Sprint Cup.
Creatures, please e-mail me your picks for the AAA 400 by Thursday, September 23, by 7 p.m. ET.
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