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Lap-by-Lap: Charlotte

October 14, 2012, ,

Lap 334 -- CHECKERED FLAG: Clint Bowyer is able to hold off a hard-charging Denny Hamlin for the win. Jimmie Johnson takes third to Brad Keselowski's 11th to pick up substantial ground in the title battle.

Lap 333 -- The gap between first and second is now half a second.

Lap 331 -- Denny Hamlin is going to catch Clint Bowyer ... if he doesn't run out of gas first.

Lap 328 -- Denny Hamlin is now just 6/10ths of a second behind leader Clint Bowyer.

Lap 327 -- Denny Hamlin is closing in on Clint Bowyer. Is he faster, or is Bowyer saving gas?

Lap 325 -- Jimmie Johnson is in third place, 6.5 seconds behind leader Clint Bowyer.

Lap 324 -- Ten laps to go.

Lap 322 -- Clint Bowyer leads Denny Hamlin by 1.4 seconds.

Lap 320 -- Chad Knaus tells Jimmie Johnson that he has to slow down a tenth of a second a lap to save fuel.

Lap 318 -- Everybody's stopped who needs to stop ... maybe. The top five are Clint Bowyer, Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Greg Biffle and Kyle Busch. Brad Keselowski is in 11th place, one lap down.

Lap 316 -- Kevin Harvick and Jeff Gordon stop.

Lap 315 -- Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth are pitting.

Lap 313 -- Clint Bowyer is now the leader. Remember ... he might be able to go the rest of the way. He's 2.3 seconds ahead of second-place Denny Hamlin.

Lap 312 -- Carl Edwards takes fuel and two tires.

Lap 311 -- Brad Keselowski makes his stop.

Lap 310 -- Greg Biffle drops out of the lead to pit. Kasey Kahne is also in.

Lap 309 -- Kyle Busch and Mark Martin are pitting.

Lap 307 -- The top five are Greg Biffle, Kyle Busch, Mark Martin, Clint Bowyer and Carl Edwards.

Lap 305 -- Brad Keselowski is still back in 12th place, 13.2 seconds behind leader Greg Biffle.

Lap 304 -- Thirty laps to go.

Lap 302 -- Sam Hornish Jr. is on pit road.

Lap 300 -- Kyle Busch hasn't been able to pick up any significant ground on leader Greg Biffle.

Lap 299 -- Clint Bowyer, in fourth place right now, may be able to make it the rest of the way without stopping.

Lap 298 -- Denny Hamlin moves around Kasey Kahne for sixth place.

Lap 296 -- Mark Martin is in third place.

Lap 295 -- Greg Biffle leads Kyle Busch by 1.5 seconds.

Lap 293 -- Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin are also trying to save a lap or two on fuel to make it the rest of the way. Brad Keselowski is four laps short!

Lap 291 -- Jimmie Johnson is in ninth place, Brad Keselowski in 12th.

Lap 289 -- Brad Keselowski is really trying to conserve fuel. He's in 12th place.

Lap 286 -- There are 16 cars on the lead lap. Greg Biffle is told that he can't make it the rest of the way without stopping.

Lap 284 -- Fifty laps to go. Greg Biffle leads Kyle Busch by half a second.

Lap 282 -- Former leader Brad Keselowski is in 13th place, 14.2 seconds off the lead.

Lap 281 -- After the round of stops, the leaders are Greg Biffle, Kyle Busch, Mark Martin, Carl Edwards and Kasey Kahne.

Lap 280 -- Denny Hamlin had assumed the race lead, but he's now on pit road.

Lap 279 -- Jimmie Johnson might be out of gas, too! He's shaking his Chevrolet back and forth as he enters pit road.

Lap 278 -- Clint Bowyer gives up the point to make his pit stop.

Lap 276 -- Brad Keselowski finally makes it to pit road. Wow. What a turn of events.

Lap 275 -- Leader Brad Keselowski is off the pace big time on the backstretch! He's out of gas! Clint Bowyer flashes by for the lead going into Turn 3.

Lap 274 -- Ryan Newman and Matt Kenseth are in their pit stalls.

Lap 273 - Kevin Harvick is pitting.

Lap 271 -- Carl Edwards gives up second place to get service.

Lap 270 -- Jeff Gordon is on pit road.

Lap 269 -- A.J. Allmendinger is stopping.

Lap 268 -- Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch are making their stops.

Lap 267 -- Greg Biffle is pitting. Much of the debris on the front of Brad Keselowski's car has been cleared.

Lap 266 -- Tony Stewart and Marcos Ambrose are on pit road. Stewart doesn't get the greatest of stops.

Lap 264 -- Carl Edwards has moved around Kyle Busch for second place. Mark Martin and Sam Hornish Jr. pit.

Lap 260 -- If the debris on Brad Keselowski's car is hurting its performance, it's not showing! He leads second-place Kyle Busch by 1.1 seconds.

Lap 259 -- Martin Truex Jr. drops onto pit road.

Lap 257 -- Denny Hamlin goes by Mark Martin for sixth place.

Lap 256 -- Kevin Harvick, in 14th place, says that his car is "just junk."

Lap 254 -- Denny Hamlin is in seventh place, Jimmie Johnson in eighth. They stopped for gas just before the end of the last caution.

Lap 250 -- Brad Keselowski isn't close to catching lapped traffic, so he's not had a chance to clear the front of his car. So far, it doesn't seem to be an issue.

Lap 248 -- Kyle Busch is about 8/10ths of a second behind Brad Keselowski.

Lap 246 -- Brad Keselowski has been told to start thinking about saving fuel.

Lap 244 -- Kyle Busch is closing fast on Brad Keselowski, who still has some debris on the nose of his car.

Lap 243 -- Brad Keselowski leads Kyle Busch by 1.2 seconds.

Lap 241 -- The top five are Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and Clint Bowyer.

Lap 238 -- Leader Brad Keselowski has picked up a fairly sizable piece of debris on the nose of his car.

Lap 237 -- Kyle Busch now trails Brad Keselowski by 1.5 seconds.

Lap 235 -- Tony Stewart, beat-up race car and all, is up to seventh place.

Lap 234 -- One hundred laps to go.

Lap 233 -- Denny Hamlin has moved up to eighth since the caution, while Jimmie Johnson is two spots back.

Lap 231 -- Brad Keselowski has put more than 7/10ths of a second on second-place Kyle Busch.

Lap 229 -- Kyle Busch and Greg Biffle are single file in second and third, right behind leader Brad Keselowski.

Lap 228 -- GREEN FLAG: The leaders are Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Greg Biffle, Mark Martin and Carl Edwards. Denny Hamlin starts tenth and Jimmie Johnson 11th. Keselowski clears for the lead in Turns 1 and 2.

Lap 227 -- Will the teams that stopped be able to make it the rest of the way on one more stop? That's what they're hoping!

Lap 226 -- Matt Kenseth, who got the free pass on this caution, is on pit road.

Lap 225 -- Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne, Sam Hornish Jr. and Aric Almirola are pitting under the caution.

Lap 223 -- YELLOW FLAG: There's debris on the frontstretch. This is the fifth caution of the race.

Lap 223 -- Clint Bowyer completes the cycle of stops to make his stop.

Lap 222 -- Brad Keselowski gives up the top spot to pit.

Lap 221 -- Denny Hamlin drops into pit lane.

Lap 220 -- Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon and Carl Edwards stop. Gordon will be penalized for speeding on pit road!

Lap 219 -- Jimmie Johnson, Greg Biffle, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth and Aric Almirola make their stops.

Lap 218 -- Joey Logano, Kurt Busch and Kyle Busch pit.

Lap 217 -- Kevin Harvick and Mark Martin are on pit road.

Lap 216 -- Expect the leaders to pit in another four laps or so.

Lap 215 -- Martin Truex Jr. is pitting.

Lap 212 -- If the race ended right now (which it's not going to!!!), Brad Keselowski would lead Jimmie Johnson by 23 points in the standings.

Lap 210 -- Third-place Kyle Busch is about 5.4 seconds off leader Brad Keselowski's pace.

Lap 208 -- Denny Hamlin might be closing a little bit on leader Brad Keselowski.

Lap 206 -- ESPN's Rusty Wallace says that Saturday's race is a make-or-break night when it comes to Jimmie Johnson's title hopes. Interesting!

Lap 204 -- The top five are Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Greg Biffle and Mark Martin.

Lap 202 -- Kyle Busch is in third, about four seconds off leader Brad Keselowski's pace.

Lap 200 -- Denny Hamlin has dropped to about 8/10ths of a second behind leader Brad Keselowski.

Lap 199 -- Jimmie Johnson is in sixth place, but he appears to be fighting his car. A great camera angle showed his hands sawing back and forth as he charged off Turn 4.

Lap 196 -- Leader Brad Keselowski has just one top-10 finish in six previous Cup starts at Charlotte. He finished fifth here in the spring.

Lap 193 -- Wow. Tony Stewart is working on Kevin Harvick to make it into the top 10.

Lap 192 -- Brad Keselowski has scooted out to a lead of about half a second over Denny Hamlin.

Lap 189 -- Denny Hamlin goes to the high side in Turns 1 and 2, trying to find a way past Brad Keselowski. Kyle Busch goes by Greg Biffle for third place.

Lap 186 -- Brad Keselowski hasn't been able to shake second-place Denny Hamlin.

Lap 182 -- A fan's recent Facebook post featured an image of Kyle Busch's face superimposed on Superman's body. While you're coming to grips with that image, he's running in fourth place!

Lap 180 -- Greg Biffle wiggles a bit off Turn 2, allowing Brad Keselowski to get a run on him for the point.

Lap 178 -- There's about a car length between leaders Greg Biffle, Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin.

Lap 176 -- The two-tire call isn't working for Jimmie Johnson. He's dropped all the way back to seventh place.

Lap 174 -- Greg Biffle clears Brad Keselowski for the lead in Turn 4.

Lap 173 -- GREEN FLAG: The leaders on the restart are Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Greg Biffle and Kyle Busch. Biffle charges three wide to the outside of Johnson and Hamlin, and Johnson back out in Turns 1 and 2. Biffle leads the lap.

Lap 172 -- One to go!

Lap 168 -- The leaders are pitting. This will put Brad Keselowski on the same cycle of stops with the frontrunners. Jimmie Johnson takes just two tires!

Lap 167 -- Teams are being given an extra person to go over the wall for the windshield and driver.

Lap 166 -- YELLOW FLAG: There's debris going into Turn 1. This is the fourth caution of the race.

Lap 165 -- The front two cars are about three seconds ahead of third-place Brad Keselowski.

Lap 162 -- Jimmie Johnson caught Denny Hamlin while they were in traffic, but he's dropped back a car length or two after clearing the lapped cars.

Lap 159 -- The leaders are in heavy traffic. Watch out!

Lap 157 -- Jimmie Johnson is there!

Lap 155 -- Jimmie Johnson has closed to within several car lengths of leader Denny Hamlin.

Lap 153 -- Tony Stewart is a driver's driver. He's running 12th with a car that has most definitely seen its better days!

Lap 151 -- Denny Hamlin leads Jimmie Johnson by about 1.7 seconds.

Lap 150 -- The top five are Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski, Kasey Kahne and Greg Biffle.

Lap 147 -- Marcos Ambrose, who'd done everything BUT crash in the last few laps while trying to hang onto his car, goes to the garage.

Lap 145 -- Jimmie Johnson has moved away from third-place Brad Keselowski to the tune of about two seconds.

Lap 143 -- Marcos Ambrose has scraped the wall in Turn 2. There's no caution.

Lap 141 -- That didn't take long. Jimmie Johnson gets a run on Brad Keselowski for second place coming off Turn 2.

Lap 140 -- Denny Hamlin leads Brad Keselowski by two seconds, and third-place Jimmie Johnson by 2.5.

Lap 137 -- After the round of green-flag stops is completed, the top five are Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne and Greg Biffle.

Lap 134 -- Jimmie Johnson gives up the point to pit.

Lap 133 -- Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman and Juan Montoya drop into the pits.

Lap 132 -- Tony Stewart, Sam Hornish Jr., Trevor Bayne, Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth are pitting.

Lap 131 -- Denny Hamlin brings his Toyota to pit road.

Lap 130 -- Mark Martin, Martin Truex Jr., Casey Mears and Kurt Busch pit.

Lap 129 -- Greg Biffle and Kevin Harvick are on pit road.

Lap 128 -- Kasey Kahne, Clint Bowyer and Aric Almirola are pitting.

Lap 127 -- Brad Keselowski's pit stop moves Kasey Kahne to third, Kyle Busch to fourth and Greg Biffle to fifth.

Lap 125 -- Brad Keselowski has to drop out of third place to bring his Dodge to pit road.

Lap 123 -- The top five are Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch.

Lap 121 -- Carl Edwards has made it into the top 10. Hey, after the season he's had, every little bit counts!

Lap 119 -- Jimmie Johnson has six wins here at Charlotte, but none since 2009.

Lap 117 -- Denny Hamlin has erased about half a second off Jimmie Johnson's cushion.

Lap 116 -- NASCAR was checking the track for debris, but it appears to be clear.

Lap 114 -- Kyle Busch is now in fifth.

Lap 113 -- Michael Waltrip Racing is having a decent night with cars in seventh, ninth and tenth.

Lap 111 -- The top-five cars are separated by 11.2 seconds.

Lap 109 -- Despite driving a heavily damaged car, Tony Stewart has picked his way up to 14th place.

Lap 108 -- Jimmie Johnson has extended his lead over second place to 1.9 seconds.

Lap 106 -- Denny Hamlin takes second from Brad Keselowski between Turns 3 and 4.

Lap 105 -- Brad Keselowski is right behind the lapped cars of Juan Montoya and A.J. Allmendinger, which allows Denny Hamlin to close hard on his bumper.

Lap 103 -- Denny Hamlin is tracking Brad Keselowski down for second place.

Lap 102 -- Jimmie Johnson has powered out to a one-second lead over Brad Keselowski.

Lap 99 -- Brad Keselowski is still hustling, but he probably should get back in synch with the leaders on pit stops to be in contention.

Lap 97 -- Jimmie Johnson dives under Brad Keselowski for the lead between Turns 3 and 4.

Lap 96 -- Smoke is being reported on the right side of Bobby Labonte's car.

Lap 95 -- Jimmie Johnson is visibly faster than Brad Keselowski at this point. The lead is down to one second.

Lap 93 -- Brad Keselowski is now just two seconds in front of a charging Jimmie Johnson.

Lap 91 -- Jimmie Johnson is closing hard on Brad Keselowski, but will he use his fresher tires up by the time he gets to the leader?

Lap 89 -- Remember, leader Brad Keselowski is out of synch on his stops. He's got a 3.7-second lead over Jimmie Johnson, and that's dropped by about a second in the last few laps.

Lap 87 -- After the cycle of stops, the top five in the running order are Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne and Kevin Harvick.

Lap 85 -- Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart are stopping.

Lap 84 -- Jimmie Johnson, Jamie McMurray, Sam Hornish Jr. and others make their stops.

Lap 83 -- Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman, Joey Logano, Aric Almirola, Denny Hamlin and others are pitting.

Lap 82 -- Kevin Harvick, Greg Biffle and Casey Mears pit.

Lap 81 -- Teammates Mark Martin and Clint Bowyer are on pit road.

Lap 80 -- Kasey Kahne is pitting.

Lap 79 -- Kyle Busch is up to seventh place.

Lap 77 -- Carl Edwards is in 10th place.

Lap 76 -- The top five are now Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne, Kevin Harvick and Mark Martin.

Lap 75 -- Jimmie Johnson is now the leader, 1.9 seconds ahead of second-place Denny Hamlin.

Lap 74 -- Brad Keselowski gives up the lead to drop onto pit road. Marcos Ambrose is also pitting. He's very nearly pounded by Jimmie Johnson as he slows at the entrance to pit road.

Lap 71 -- Kasey Kahne goes by Kevin Harvick for fourth place.

Lap 70 -- The leaders are about to hit a heavy pack of traffic.

Lap 69 -- ESPN reports that Brad Keselowski should be pitting somewhere between Laps 73 and 76.

Lap 67 -- Brad Keselowski has a mirror full of Jimmie Johnson, who tries to dive low in Turns 3 and 4 for the race lead.'

Lap 65 -- Regan Smith is being pushed to the garage. The track is clear, according to NASCAR inspectors stationed around the facility.

Lap 64 -- NASCAR is checking the track for fluid from Regan Smith's Chevrolet.

Lap 62 -- Regan Smith's car is smoking. Noooooooo!

Lap 61 -- Jimmie Johnson still hasn't been able to get close enough to Brad Keselowski to make a move for the lead.

Lap 57 -- Kyle Busch has been up and down like a yo-yo Saturday night. He was up to fourth, then dropped out of the top 10 and now he's back up to ninth.

Lap 56 -- Third-place Denny Hamlin is also moving into position to challenge for one of the top-two spots!

Lap 55 -- Jimmie Johnson has closed even more on Brad Keselowski.

Lap 53 -- It's going to be a long night for Jeff Burton, who's back on pit road.

Lap 52 -- Regan Smith has eased into the top 10.

Lap 51 -- Jimmie Johnson has closed to within a few car lengths of Brad Keselowski.

Lap 50 -- Second-place Jimmie Johnson is about 7/10ths of a second behind race leader and points leader Brad Keselowski.

Lap 47 -- Marcos Ambrose has dropped to fourth in the last couple of laps. Jimmie Johnson is now second, Kevin Harvick third.

Lap 46 -- The field is about to catch the damaged car of David Ragan.

Lap 44 -- Although his car sustained damage in the earlier restart pileup, Marcos Ambrose is your leader. Well ... he was before Brad Keselowski grabs the top spot in Turns 1 and 2.

Lap 42 -- GREEN FLAG: Brad Keselowski, Marcos Ambrose, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick and Mark Martin are the leaders on the restart. Ambrose roars into the lead in Turns 1 and 2.

Lap 40 -- Paul Menard and Matt Kenseth are on pit road. Brad Keselowski and Marcos Ambrose did not come in this time by.

Lap 38 -- The leaders are pitting.

Lap 36 -- YELLOW FLAG: If Paul Menard's Chevrolet didn't have damage on the right side before, it does now. He's slapped the wall.

Lap 35 -- It's a really cool sight to see Charlotte's start-finish line in pink, honoring breast cancer survivors and those lost to the disease.

Lap 33 -- The top five are Greg Biffle, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch.

Lap 32 -- The smoke that had been reported coming from Kyle Busch's car isn't an issue. He's in fourth place, 2.2 seconds behind leader Greg Biffle.

Lap 30 -- Greg Biffle's lead over Denny Hamlin stands at about 9/10ths of a second.

Lap 28 -- Regan Smith, driving in relief of Dale Earnhardt Jr., is running in 14th place.

Lap 27 -- NASCAR is checking out potential damage on the right side of Paul Menard's car.

Lap 25 -- Bobby Labonte drops onto pit road, evidently with a flat tire.

Lap 23 -- Denny Hamlin moved to second on the restart, Martin Truex Jr. to third.

Lap 22 -- GREEN FLAG: Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Mark Martin, Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson are the leaders on the restart. Biffle is clear for the lead before he gets to the starter's stand, and he has a huge lead on the backstretch.

Lap 19 -- One to go.

Lap 18 -- The nose of Tony Stewart's car is beat up, big time.

Lap 17 -- Those involved in the mishap, plus a couple of others, are back in the pits.

Lap 16 -- Jeff Burton, David Ragan and Tony Stewart are pitting.

Lap 15 -- YELLOW FLAG: Jeff Burton and David Ragan crashed on the frontstretch as the green was coming out. Tony Stewart also gets some damage in the chain-reaction mishap.

Lap 15 -- GREEN FLAG: Greg Biffle, Mark Martin, Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr. are the leaders on the restart.

Lap 14 -- Sam Hornish Jr., Brad Keselowski, Marcos Ambrose, Jeff Burton, Casey Mears, Juan Montoya and Tony Stewart are pitting.

Lap 12 -- YELLOW FLAG: Matt Kenseth spins in Turn 4.

Lap 11 -- There's a ton of trash on the grille of Greg Biffle's Ford!

Lap 10 -- Mark Martin has settled into second place. He's making the 850th start of his Cup career here. His first Charlotte Cup start came back in May 1982.

Lap 7 -- There's been a report of smoke coming from Kyle Busch's Toyota. He's in seventh place at the moment.

Lap 5 -- Greg Biffle finally clears Mark Martin for the lead coming off Turn 4.

Lap 4 -- Remarkably, Mark Martin and Greg Biffle are still door to door going for the top spot.

Lap 2 -- Greg Biffle and Mark Martin are still going after each other. Clint Bowyer is just behind Martin on the low side.

Lap 1 -- GREEN FLAG: The race gets under way at 7:51 p.m. ET. Mark Martin and Greg Biffle are side by side on the front row the entire first lap.

7:49 p.m. ET -- One to go!

7:45 p.m. ET -- The field is beginning to roll off pit road. The race should go green the third time by the starter's stand!

7:40 p.m. ET -- Dan Nevins, executive vice president of the Wound Warrior Project and a retired staff sergeant in the United States Army, gives the command to fire engines.

7:34 p.m. ET -- Dove Award-winning gospel group NewSong sings the national anthem.

7:33 p.m. ET -- The presentation of colors is handled by Air Force ROTC Detachment 592 from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Mike Novak, president and CEO of the K-LOVE Radio Network, gives the invocation.

7:28 p.m. ET -- Five minutes until the invocation and national anthem.

7:22 p.m. ET -- NASCAR is conducting its weekly radio check. Loud and clear, tower!

7:14 p.m. ET -- As hard as it is to see Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the sidelines, how cool would it be to see Regan Smith win during his fill-in stint here at Charlotte?

7:10 p.m. ET -- The gang's all here on ABC! Sit back, relax and enjoy 500 miles of hard-core Saturday night racing under the lights!

7:06 p.m. ET -- A college football game is running a little bit long, delaying ABC's pre-race coverage.

6:55 p.m. ET -- Driver introductions are starting here at Charlotte, where pre-race shows have always been legendary!

12:35 p.m. ET -- Joe Nemechek, Josh Wise, Scott Riggs and Cole Whitt failed to qualify for the race.

12:30 p.m. ET -- Greg Biffle is on the pole for the Bank of America 500 with a sizzling-hot lap of 193.708 mph. Mark Martin, Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson are second through fifth, while Martin Truex Jr., Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Kasey Kahne round out the top 10.