The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500 did not go as expected for Joe Gibbs Racing today, with Denny Hamlin leading the organization’s three-car team with a 20th-place finish, while Michael McDowell, who was filling in for Kyle Busch, finished 33rd and an engine failure left Joey Logano in 37th.
Hamlin started the No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota in the 28th position and battled handling conditions through much of the day. Hamlin, who won both races in Texas last season, slowly climbed his way back toward the front of the field over the course of the second half of the race. He appeared set to battle for a top ten finish, but the No. 11 Camry would receive damage when Brad Keselowski backed the No. 2 car into Hamlin while attempting to leave his pit stall. Both cars would have to remain in the pits and lose critical track position. Hamlin would go on to finish 20th.
Following an incident in Friday night’s Truck Series race while driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports, NASCAR made a ruling on Saturday morning that Kyle Busch would not be allowed to drive for JGR in either the Nationwide or Sprint Cup Series races scheduled over the weekend. Michael McDowell would step into the No. 18 M&Ms Toyota to replace Busch for the AAA Texas 500 today and the late driver change would result in having to start from the back of the field. McDowell would gain several spots during the early laps, but was battling loose conditions both in and out of each turn. Unfortunately for the 18 team the race would open with a long green flag run limiting the ability of Dave Rogers and the M&Ms team to make the necessary adjustments. McDowell would eventually fall two laps off the pace and with only five cautions all day long there was little opportunity to get back on the lead lap. He would go to finish the day 33rd.
Joey Logano started the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota in the 25th position and battled handling conditions throughout much of the day. With few cautions on the day there was little opportunity for The Home Depot crew to make the necessary adjustments on the No. 20 Camry. Logano would eventually fall two laps off the pace and on lap 262 his engine would blow up forcing him into the garage and out of the race. He would be left with a disappointing 37th-place finish.
Tony Stewart captured his second consecutive victory to move within just three marks of points leader Carl Edwards, who finished today in second. Meanwhile Kasey Kahne finished third, Matt Kenseth was fourth, and Greg Biffle rounded out the top five. There were only five cautions for a total of 21 laps and 23 lead changes among 10 different drivers over the course of the 334-lap race.
Busch dropped to 11th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings 100 points behind the leader Carl Edwards with just two races remaining. Meanwhile Hamlin climbed one spot into 10th and is 99 points off the pace.
Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Standings
1. Carl Edwards 2316
2. Tony Stewart (-3)
3. Kevin Harvick (-33)
4. Matt Kesenth (-38)
5. Brad Keselowski (-49)
6. Jimmie Johnson (-55)
7. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (-79)
8. Jeff Gordon (-81)
9. Kurt Busch. (-87)
10. Denny Hamlin (-99)
11. Kyle Busch (-100)
12. Ryan Newman (-103)
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will head to Phoenix next week for the ninth of 10 races in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The race will begin at 3 PM ET with live, high-definition coverage provided by ESPN beginning with its pre-race show at 2 PM ET. The race will also be broadcast live on SIRIUS Satellite Radio Channel 90 and the MRN radio network.