How the race was won
Kahne This essentially became a two-driver race between Kasey Kahne and Jimmie Johnson. There were a few others who set the pace for a while, but the 9 and 48 were head and shoulders above – with the 9 actually being another notch above that. Johnson led off a late restart, but Kahne ran him down quickly and drove away to the win – and with the season sweep at Lowe's, he completed his very own wing on Jimmie's house.
Story of the race
The Chase race not tightening – at least not at the top.
A few key wrecks.
Give 'em credit
Points leader Jeff Burton also came up big, driving hard to get back and stay on the lead lap and then coming around after the caution to finish top-three. He gave away very few points Saturday.
Carl Edwards has four consecutive top-10s. Where was this consistency during the first 26?
What were they thinking?
NASCAR. Mistakes happen, but that pseudo-restart with safety vehicles still on the track could have been catastrophic.
J.J. Yeley. At least from Mark Martin's fans' perspective. Yeley said he was waving before preparing to pit, and there's no reason to expect that he wasn't. But still, he probably could have been lower on the track so Martin could have easily gone high to avoid him instead of severely damaging his title chances right then and there.
Busch speeds on pit road. Again. And recovers to score a good finish. Again. Imagine how good he'll be when he learns how to read a tac …
Did Tony Eury Jr. overrule Earnhardt Jr. on a late tire call? And did it cost Junior a shot at the win? Either way, hard to complain about a top-five.
Better luck next time
Martin Martin was on his way to a possible top-five finish, which would have left him comfortably second in points. As Martin himself said, it wasn't meant to be.
Speaking of Hamlin … though his team battled back nicely to salvage a 28th-place finish.
Reed Sorenson has had a rough go of it lately.
Harvick and Matt Kenseth, plus those bit by the RCR and Roush engines/transmissions.
By the way …
We asked this last week, but it still applies: Are the fuel cells too small for these races? Way too many pit stops, way too many mistakes, total lack of continuity. These tires now are fine; they can handle the longer runs. Put the fuel back in the cars.
Anyone else notice the No. 24 uniforms proclaiming "Dupont: The miracles of science" as that team's crew looked over their car's blown engine?
Grading the race
When did races at Lowe's stop featuring top-notch excitement? Oh yeah, when the repaving happened. First, the fuel cells must be bigger. Addressing the aero and grip (and speed?) issues that cause cars to so often lose control when running side-by-side is more important than manufacturing countless numbers of pit stops. Second, with so many cars being caught up in other people's incidents, plate racing doesn't seem to be alone in the sometimes-ridiculous racing category. Problem is, Lowe's has no excuse. To be fair, there was some wild action after that mid-pit cycle caution shook-up the running order (and on restarts in general), creating some late drama. And there almost was a battle to the finish, but Kahne was too strong. Johnson actually blamed the small fuel cells for preventing his No. 48 from kicking in during a long run, and indeed, with the small cells and frequent wrecks, this painfully long race never got going. The All-Star Challenge is turning into the best "Cup" race Lowe's has to offer. It shouldn't be that way. Grade: C-
From the source
Kasey Kahne: "We're still in [the title hunt] as much as anybody. I don't feel like I'm out of it at all. We can make up as many points as possible and still get back in this thing."
Mark Martin: "[The] championship is not something that was meant for me."