Race: Irwin Tools Night Race
Winner: Brad Keselowski
What happened: Good pit work put Brad Keselowski in second place on the last restart, was able to pass Martin Truex, Jr. and cruse to a 0.951 second win over Truex.
History: This was Brad’s first win at Bristol, third win of the year, and fourth for his career.
Points: Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson are tied for first, Kyle getting the lead because he has more wins this year than Jimmie. Matt Kenseth jumped from fifth to third, 32 points back.
Is Brad Keselowski for real? Kansas I could see him winning that sort of a race, fuel mileage and not really in contention most of the race. In essence stealing one from everyone else. That wasn’t too far of a stretch for his second and maybe third or final career win. Then he goes out and busts up his ankle, so I’m thinking this kid is done for the year. No way does he drive any better with his broken ankle, because with a good one he wasn’t impressing. And we have Pocono happen where he drove up through the field and got a no questions (rain shortened, fuel mileage, etc) victory that makes you go “hmm…ok, maybe he’s good.” He’s had a second place and then a third place finish after that race on a road course and intermediate track. We come to Bristol and he ends up winning, and again, not one he had to steal. He got his car out front when it counted and motored to the win. I debated with Greg on this, at what point do we change him from Jamie McMurray dreamer to week in week out contender? I think I will keep judgment out until at least next year. Drivers can have “magical” seasons, but then drop off the face of the earth so to speak. Using my boy Ryan Newman as an example, he won eight times in 2003, so you’re thinking he’ll do that every year. Then he sort of dropped off the face of the earth, and has honestly taken until this year to be a week in week out contender once again.Martin Truex, Jr. finally gets a good result, which is fantastic to that team and the whole Michael Waltrip Racing organization. Although I find him mildly annoying on Twitter (up there with Kenny Wallace and Kyle Petty, who I read and ask myself “why do I keep following you?”) I do like Michael Waltrip as an owner, driver (took a long time), and person in NASCAR. I want to see him succeed, if not for himself, but for sponsors like NAPA and Aaron’s who have back him for a long time. I’m big on rewarding those who have patients and faith in teams and drivers. Hopefully for Truex, NAPA, and Toyota this team is turning the corner.
While he can’t be too happy with third place, Jeff Gordon ran a solid race all night. He led a race his 206 laps, but couldn’t find a way around Truex at the end to get up and contend with Keselowski. If he can keep rattling off these types of runs, with a win here and there, I think he can use the momentum for a strong bid for his fifth championship.
Chase hopefuls Greg Biffle (31st) and Clint Bowyer (26th) did nothing to help themselves get into the Chase. Both drivers need wins or to out run Tony Stewart (28) for 10th place. Neither did any of that Saturday night when Stewart gave them an opening by being junk all weekend. I didn’t see the beginning of the race, so not sure what Biffle’s deal was. But I will say this about Bowyer, he’s admitted talk over 2012 and further has been effecting him. I really think it is coming to a head here real soon. This team cannot get on track, and we’re not sure if it is just a simple funk, or worries over sponsorship, or worries over if Bowyer is leaving. I read a good article over the weekend that Richard Petty Motorsports is hot on Bowyer’s door begging him to come to their team. Richard Childress and Bowyer are saying all the right things, that they want to work out a deal and stay together. But like in the Carl Edwards saga, why is it taking so long if everyone is supposedly on the same page. Edwards ended up staying, even with that, but let it be noted he was off to Joe Gibbs Racing before a last pitch by Ford and Roush-Fenway Racing. If I was a betting man (which my bookie can confirm, I am) I would say Bowyer has a new home in 2012. I’ll be curious to see if Childress keeps the 33 car running, Brian Vickers is out there, or just shuts it down if no sponsorship can be found.
Another driver who seemed like a Chase pretender is Denny Hamlin who managed a seventh place finish. His interview after the race was very telling, explaining he drove about 90% the whole race because going 100% hurt him like at Michigan. That’s a definite sign of maturity, that he can learn to pick and choose his battles. Get into the Chase anyway you can then go all guns blazing once you get there, because it doesn’t make sense to try so hard and miss. Then you know you’ll get on a roll and do good once you’re out.
Picks to win:
Jimmie Johnson – 4th
Matt Kenseth– 6th
Kyle Busch – 14th
Kurt Busch – 17th
Greg Biffle – 31st
My picks did not perform all that well on Saturday night. Johnson came through with a solid race as well as Matt Kenseth, who should have finished higher had he not raced away his car with Gordon and Johnson. Kyle Busch did at least what I said, won the Nationwide race, but late contact with the wall relegated him mid-pack. Didn’t hear much from Kurt Busch during the race, except for two speeding penalties, if not for those I still think that’s about where he’d finish. Then there is Biffle, who needed a good run, on paper should have had a good run, then came out and laid a big turn on the Bristol high banks.
Start ‘N’ Park Trophy:
Pick: Jeff Green – DNQ
Winner: Robby Gordon, 10 laps, out because of “brakes”
Maybe I had too much faith in Jeff Green for making the race, or maybe he had one too many KOMA Unwinds before qualifying. Either way he never even made the race, so I’m thinking I might have to wait on this pick until qualifying is over. Although, Robby Gordon got last place and publicly stated unless he found more funding, he’d start and park the rest of the year. I assume that Robby himself will take some races off and put Johnny Sauter or Scott Wimmer in the car. Now I’m torn, this makes Robby an attractive pick for the rest of the year.
|1||8||2||Brad Keselowski||Miller Lite||Dodge||500||$291,883||Running||89||47|
|2||27||56||Martin Truex Jr||NAPA Auto Parts||Toyota||500||$223,550||Running||5||43|
|3||4||24||Jeff Gordon||Drive To End Hunger||Chevrolet||500||$202,986||Running||206||43|
|4||13||48||Jimmie Johnson||Lowe’s / Kobalt Tools||Chevrolet||500||$186,161||Running||76||41|
|5||6||1||Jamie McMurray||Bass Pro Shops – Tracker Boats||Chevrolet||500||$158,064||Running||2||40|
|6||3||17||Matt Kenseth||Crown Royal||Ford||500||$158,861||Running||110||39|
|7||20||11||Denny Hamlin||FedEx Express||Toyota||500||$154,250||Running||0||37|
|8||1||39||Ryan Newman||Bass Pro Shops / RealTree||Chevrolet||500||$157,600||Running||4||37|
|11||25||4||Kasey Kahne||Red Bull||Toyota||500||$126,233||Running||0||33|
|12||18||43||AJ Allmendinger||Best Buy||Ford||500||$138,411||Running||0||32|
|13||9||20||Joey Logano||The Home Depot||Toyota||500||$109,475||Running||2||32|
|16||22||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr||Amp Energy/Bristol 50th Anniversary/National Guard||Chevrolet||500||$106,150||Running||0||28|
|18||12||78||Regan Smith||Furniture Row||Chevrolet||500||$123,270||Running||0||26|
|19||19||42||Juan Pablo Montoya||Target||Chevrolet||500||$133,833||Running||0||25|
|21||26||83||Brian Vickers||Red Bull||Toyota||499||$122,214||Running||0||23|
|22||15||29||Kevin Harvick||RealTree / Bad Boy Buggies||Chevrolet||499||$140,786||Running||0||22|
|25||38||71||Andy Lally||Interstate Moving Services||Ford||498||$102,500||Running||0||19|
|26||16||33||Clint Bowyer||Hamburger Helper||Chevrolet||498||$132,608||Running||0||18|
|28||42||14||Tony Stewart||Bass Pro Shops / Office Depot||Chevrolet||497||$137,828||Running||0||16|
|29||40||51||Mike Bliss||Phoenix Construction / “Thank A Teacher Today”||Chevrolet||497||$102,968||Running||0||0|
|30||7||27||Paul Menard||Sylvania / Menards||Chevrolet||496||$98,675||Running||0||14|
|31||14||16||Greg Biffle||Roush Fenway Racing||Ford||496||$105,065||Running||0||13|
|33||41||32||Terry Labonte||C & J Energy||Ford||494||$99,842||Running||0||11|
|34||30||47||Bobby Labonte||Bush’s Baked Beans||Toyota||471||$113,055||Ignition||0||10|
|35||35||36||Dave Blaney||Golden Corral||Chevrolet||457||$86,575||Engine||0||9|
|36||34||00||David Reutimann||Aaron’s Freedom Ride Dream Machine||Toyota||430||$114,373||Running||0||8|
|37||33||38||Travis Kvapil||Long John Silver’s||Ford||371||$86,330||Running||0||0|
|38||5||5||Mark Martin||Farmers Insurance / GoDaddy.com||Chevrolet||363||$94,220||Accident||0||6|
|39||32||66||Michael McDowell||HP Racing LLC||Toyota||49||$86,110||Electrical||0||5|
|40||28||87||Joe Nemechek||AM/FM Energy-Wood & Pellet Stoves||Toyota||42||$85,975||Brakes||0||0|
|41||43||60||Mike Skinner||Big Red||Toyota||28||$85,750||Brakes||0||0|
|42||36||46||Scott Speed||Green Stuff Absorbent||Ford||28||$85,635||Brakes||0||0|
|43||39||7||Robby Gordon||Speed Energy||Dodge||10||$85,960||Brakes||0||1|