Drop the flag on any NASCAR Cup level race and it’s not surprising to find four Chevrolets in the top 10.
Though the rise of Toyota and more recently Ford have tempered the Bowtie Brigade’s dominance, names like Johnson, Elliott, Larson and McMurray usually populate the final top 10.
Last night, though, after race filled with on-track fireworks, five Chevy Underdogs ran from 20-somthing starting spots to claim spots in the top 10.
Paul Menard, 3rd, started 24th
Michael McDowell, 4th, started 23rd
Ryan Newman, 5th, started 22nd
AJ Allmendinger, 8th, started 27th
Chris Buescher, 10th, started 29th
Other than McDowell, who ran in the top 10 all night and was second when the white flag fell, the Chevy Underdogs either fought their way through the pack or benefited from the carnage in front of them to move up.
Ryan Newman, who went from 10th to 5th on the event’s green, white-checker two-lap final shootout semi-reluctantly credited luck.
“I don’t want to say we got lucky,” he said. “But we got lucky. We rode around in the back for most of the race and it played out between everybody but Austin. It was a little bit of luck, but it was calculated and it was good enough for a top-five tonight.”
McDowell had a shot at race winner Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. on the last lap, but was overcome by a fast moving draft that included Clint Bowyer (who finished 2nd) and Menard.
“Coming to the white, I thought I might have had a shot at it,” McDowell said. “But Ricky and I were just too far out and those cars behind us had a big run.”
Allmendinger also had a chance to win, starting in the second row for the final restart, behind co-Chevy Underdog Ty Dillon.
“On that first restart I had a big push there on David,” Allmendinger said. “(I) thought we were going to get clear that second restart, but I couldn’t get to Ty’s bumper as good as I wanted to. I was going to shoot the gap, and Ty went high and the 38 went low and I got pinned in the middle and lost our chance to win.”
“Big Push” is a phrase that might describe the whole evening for the Chevy Underdogs. Each of them returns to the shop with a respectable result and a great story.