NASCAR Pepsi 500 in-race update through 400 miles
The lack of incidents forced the second green flag stops between laps 158 and 162. Jimmie Johnson gave up his lead on lap 161 but was able to get it back in just a few laps.
Johnson just continued the dominate as the race plodded to its conclusion. A caution came out on lap 186, again for alleged debris. The race was green flagged after lap 189. There have been a total of 17 caution laps so far.
But on the restart the race finally had its first incident and it was at the front of the field. Denny Hamlin was ahead when the flag dropped but drifted down the track and into the way of Juan Pablo Montoya. Hamlin then spun out in front of the grandstand eventually hitting the front of his car against the pit wall. Hamlin took the car back to the garage with the hope of getting back on the track.
It left a familiar scene at the front of the field with Montoya in first and Johnson in second.
Hamlin's spin out gave the crowd a much-needed bit of action allowing them to come to their feet. Hamlin took responsibility for the incident calling it "a rookie mistake."
"I thought I was clear, and I misjudged it," Hamlin said. "I got to apologize to my team. they deserve better than that. They got me out front; it was a bad mistake."
So, after the restart it was business as usual. Johnson quickly built a half-second lead over Montoya as the race headed to the 400-mile mark.
The storylines after 400 miles:
- See 300 mile storylines (Montoya vs. Johnson).
- First big incident of the race (Hamlin spinning out).
- Junior still hanging in there in eighth.
The Top 10 after 200 laps: 1. Johnson; 2. Montoya; 3. Martin; 4. Jeff Gordon; 5. Kurt Busch; 6. Mears; 7. Harvick; 8. Junior; 9. Kasey Kahne; 10. Matt Kenseth.
-- John Cherwa