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NASCAR At Charlotte 2012: Clint Bowyer Wins Bank of America 500

Clint Bowyer stretched his fuel over the final 56 laps to win the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It is Bowyer's third victory of the 2012 campaign and the eighth of his Sprint Cup career. Denny Hamlin finished second.

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Clint Bowyer wins Bank of America 500

Clint Bowyer stretched his fuel over the final 56 laps to win the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It is Bowyer's third victory of the 2012 campaign and the eighth of his Sprint Cup career. Denny Hamlin finished second to cut into Brad Keselowski's point lead.

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Keselowski runs dry, Hamlin could capitalize

In a stunning turn of events, race and point leader Brad Keselowski ran out of gas on the 275th of 334 laps in the Bank of America 500. He coasted his Dodge to pit lane, where it took 22 seconds to get the serviced and then re-fired. The potential disaster dropped Keselowski to 14th in the running order once the cycle of pit stops concluded.

The field is on wildly-varying pit strategies, but most of them will require another pit stop if the race does not see another caution flag. One of the drivers who can make it on fuel is Denny Hamlin, who pitted 54 laps from the conclusion. Another is Clint Bowyer who ran 56 laps on his previous stint before pitting with the same number of laps remaining in the race.

Greg Biffle leads the way but he will certainly have to pit. Ditto Kyle Busch, Mark Martin, and Carl Edwards (having his best run perhaps all season). Bowyer runs fifth and the first car with a realistic shot of stretching the gas tank to the end of the race. Kasey Kahne, Joey Logano, and Martin Truex Jr. are all on cycles that will need another pit stop, while Hamlin can likely make it and Jimmie Johnson ran out of gas as he hit pit road.

A caution flag would throw all this strategy out of the window and allow everyone to pit and make it to the end of the race on fuel, but the race has been clean and green most of the evening after having three cautions in the opening 41 circuits.

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Fuel mileage in play at Charlotte

With 70 laps remaining in the Bank of America 500, everyone's favorite pair of words have entered into radio chatter across all the teams: "Save fuel."

Oh joy, here we go again.

The goal is to be able to reach a window in which the drivers could make their final pit stop, then go from there without stopping again. Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin both made caution-flag pit stops to top-off their fuel tanks, while leader Brad Keselowski has been attempting to save fuel on the track.

Fuel strategy has played a role in all but the second race of the Chase at Loudon. In the opener in Chicago, Denny Hamlin ran shy of gas on the very last lap and dropped from the top-10 to 16th. Hamlin and a dominant Kyle Busch both had to pit late at Dover, while Keselowski stretched his gas to win that one. Last week in Talladega some teams topped off their fuel tanks under a late caution in anticipation of multiple green-white-checkered attempts (there was only one, marred by the 25-car melee in the last turn).

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Keselowski leads with 200 laps complete

Brad Keselowski overhauled Greg Biffle shortly after the most recent restart, and the Sprint Cup point leader holds the lead in the Bank of America 500 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway with 200 laps complete. Keselowski, who entered the race with a 14-point edge on Jimmie Johnson, has led the most laps on the night and counting.

Denny Hamlin - third in the points battle entering the night - holds second ahead of his teammate Kyle Busch, Biffle - the polesitter - and Mark Martin. Clint Bowyer holds sixth-place, followed by Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards, and Tony Stewart.

The night has featured more of the cat-and-mouse strategy games between Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe and the five-time champs Johnson and Chad Knaus. Keselowski's team has seemed to have the upper hand more often than not lately, and they so so right now as well. Knaus called for two tires during the most-recent pit stop under caution, and Johnson dropped like a rock from the lead to seventh-place. Keselowski, meanwhile, shows the way.

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Denny Hamlin takes lead at 200-mile mark

It took him 200 miles to do it, but Denny Hamlin has his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota out front in the Bank of America 500 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Hamlin, who started seventh but has run in the top-five virtually all night, assumed the lead during the just-completed cycle of pit stops. Jimmie Johnson, who had been leading, stayed out several extra laps - a fuel mileage play. Those laps on old tires compared to the fresh rubber for Hamlin and Brad Keselowski allowed them to overhaul his Chevy as he exited pit road.

Johnson has retaken second-place, with Keselowski holding third. Kasey Kahne holds fourth, meaning the top-four in the standings hold the top-four spots on the track as well. Polesitter Greg Biffle rounds out the top-five. Kyle Busch holds sixth ahead of Mark Martin, Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, and Carl Edwards.

One of the stories of the weekend has been A.J. Allmendinger's return to the Sprint Cup Series for the first time since his July suspension for failing a drug test. Allmendinger is enjoying a quietly solid evening in 21st, one lap off the pace in his Phoenix Racing Chevrolet. Former Phoenix driver Kurt Busch - in his first race for Furniture Row Racing - is three spots better in 18th.

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Smith blows engine after 61 laps at Charlotte.

Regan Smith's first night as Dale Earnhardt Jr's substitute driver was a short one - only 61 laps - but it was impressive while he was on the Charlotte Motor Speedway in the Bank of America 500.

Smith had driven the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet into the top-10 and was holding down the tenth spot when his engine popped as he raced towards the first turn. He got the car off the track before fluid could warrant a caution flag and coasted to the garage area, where will remain parked for the night.

Jimmie Johnson holds the lead after championship rival Brad Keselowski hit pit road for a scheduled stop. Keselowski stopped about 15 laps prior to Johnson, second-place Denny Hamlin (third in the standings), and the other front-running drivers. Keselowski and Johnson nearly collided as the Blue Deuce hit pit road, but a miss is as good as a mile in big-time stock car racing.

Kasey Kahne holds down the third position, followed by Kevin Harvick and Mark Martin. Polesitter Greg Biffle runs sixth, with Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer, and Carl Edwards completing the top-10.

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Two early cautions at Bank of America 500

The Bank of America 500 is fewer than 20 laps old, and already a pair of cautions have flown at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

First, Matt Kenseth cut a tire on his No. 17 Roush-Fenway Racing Ford and spun in turn four. He kept the car off the wall, but he lost lap in the process.

Then, on the restart from that accident, the field stacked up near the middle of the pack, causing a melee that damaged, among others, Jeff Burton, Tony Stewart, and Unadilla's David Ragan.

Greg Biffle has led all but two laps, those led by second-place starter Mark Martin. The pair of former Roush-Fenway drivers raced door to door for nearly five straight laps before Biffle finally cleared Martin off the fourth turn on that fifth circuit and pulled away to hold the lead.

Bowyer assumed second-place from his Michael Waltrip Racing teammate, with Martin holding third. Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson round out the early top-five runners.

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NASCAR played Russian Roulette at Charlotte in '05

The 2005 running of Saturday's event, the Bank of America 500 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, reigns as one of NASCAR's most-miserable evenings. Tire failures were abound in what turned into a high-speed game of Russian Roulette.

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TV, radio, info for Bank of America 500

Charlotte is the site for Saturday night's Bank of America 500, which can be seen live on ABC.

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McMurray shocked racing world at Charlotte in 2002

Jamie McMurray was largely unknown when Chip Ganassi tabbed him to substitute for the injured Sterling Marlin in October 2002. He became an overnight sensation a decade ago Saturday with his win at Charlotte in just his second-career start.

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Biffle, Martin on front row

Greg Biffle starts on the front line with Mark Martin at tonight's Bank of America 500 from Charlotte Motor Speedway

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Should NASCAR ramp up driver checks after crashes?

After Dale Earnhardt Jr revealed he was not required by NASCAR to get checked out after last weekend's last lap crash at Talladega, NASCAR should consider requiring drivers to head to the medical center no matter what.

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Kyle Petty: Renaissance Man, Role Model

From winning eight Sprint Cup races to cutting country music tracks to spearheading two of NASCAR's best-known charitable causes, beloved former driver and current TV analyst Kyle Petty has done - and seen - it all.

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Biffle breaks track record, wins Charlotte pole

Greg Biffle won his third pole of the 2012 season Thursday, claiming the top spot for Saturday evening's Bank of America 500 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Biffle broke the old track record in the process. Mark Martin will share the front row.

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. injured, will miss two races

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will miss this weekend's Bank of America 500 at the Charlotte Motor Speeedway and next week's event at the Kansas Speedway after being diagnosed with a concussion. NASCAR's most popular driver suffered the injury in the massive 25-car accident on the last lap of Sunday's event at the Talladega Superspeedway.

Regan Smith will drive the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in place of Earnhardt. Smith became available following the Talladega race, his last in Furniture Row Racing's No. 78 Chevrolet. He was originally slated to take over the No. 51 Phoenix Racing Chevrolet, vacated by Kurt Busch who replaced him in the No. 78 car starting this weekend.

Earnhardt, who turned 38 Wednesday, had not missed a race since competing in the 1999 season finale at the Atlanta Motor Speedway and joining the Sprint Cup Series full time the following season. He previously suffered a concussion in a crash at the Auto Club Speedway in April 2002 and hid the injury from NASCAR officials. It finally came to light that fall. He was injured again in a wreck at Dover the following September.

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NASCAR returns to Charlotte this weekend

The Chase for the Sprint Cup continues Saturday when Charlotte Motor Speedway hosts the Bank of America 500, the only night race on the Chase schedule.

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NASCAR goes home for Charlotte weekend.

NASCAR's Sprint Cup and Nationwide divisions will be in action this weekend at the Charlotte Motor Speedway, near the headquarters for most teams. Matt Kenseth is the defending champ of the Bank of America 500, while Kasey Kahne won at CMS in May.

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