Racin’ with Russ—Denny Hamlin walked away Saturday night with his third checkers of the season after taking the lead from Carl Edwards late in the race, essentially locking him into this year’s Chase.
Track owner Bruton Smith spent a million dollars to revamp the current Bristol Motor Speedway in an effort to put the excitement and butts back in what were empty seats.
I’d say that his efforts were not in vain as Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup race action and crowd could attest.
The race fans said that the races were boring since the big repaving in 2007, and the thousands of baron seats and a bad economy backed that concept up.
Smith felt that changing the upper lanes banking would force the cars to run the bottom of the track and create more action. Well, there was more action, but not at the bottom of the track. The drivers quickly realized, after about a hundred laps, that there was an upper groove being created as more and more rubber was being laid down.
Drivers were able to "rim ride" the high side of the track, carry a strong momentum, diamond the corners and ‘slide job’ each other to advance their position.
They were able to do these things, but not without a number of bumps and bruises along the way—just ask Tony Stewart or his teammate Ryan Newman (he was turned around early by Juan Montoya).
The race was supposed to start with a qualifying lineup, but it was canceled and as a result, a surprising Casey Mears was put on the pole. He did manage to lead a fair number of opening laps, yet the single team car faded deep in the pack by race's end.
Joey Logano led quite a few laps, as did Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne and late in the race, Carl Edwards.
Edwards and crew rolled the dice with a gas gamble that did not pan out and ran out of the go-juice within a handful of laps remaining.
Hamlin had run the Ford driver down, rubbed a bit and went on to lead many of the top runners as Edwards’ tires and gas situation faded rapidly at the end. Hamlin’s latest win is the Virginia driver’s 20th career mark and marked the 200th for the famed No. 11 in NASCAR competition.
Crossing the line close to Hamlin were the cars of Johnson, Gordon, Brian Vickers and Marcos Ambrose.
Numerous wrecks dotted the race with the most notable between the cars of Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth. They both squeezed each other off of turn four and sent each other into the inside wall.
Tony’s inner hothead returned as evidenced by his throwing his helmet full force at the hood of Kenseth's car minutes later.
Danica Patrick started her fourth cup race dead last, ran close to 20th and was punted out of the event by Regan Smith, netting a 29th place finish. Her displeasure was shown as she shook her finger at Smith.
Is Joey Logano a good fit for the Penske No. 22?
Greg Biffle, Jimmy Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr sit atop the points and are also locked into this year’s Chase.
The Friday night show at Bristol for the NNS group saw plenty of action and a preview of what might occur for Saturday night’s cup race.
Kevin Harvick led with the most laps, but Joey Logano led four times, totaled 81 laps out front and led the final circuit to take his sixth win of the year.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon and points leader Elliott Sadler capped the top five.
Dillon did not make any friends on this race night, especially after stuffing fellow drivers Trevor Bayne and Justin Allgaier. He is rapidly gaining a rough reputation, akin to that of a legend driving the black No. 3. All that I can say is what goes around, comes around.
Danica Patrick started 34th and managed to dodge much of the carnage to notch a ninth place finish. She remains 10th in points, yet seven-and-a-half races worth of points behind at 325.
Sadler is 19 ahead of Stenhouse Jr.
Camping World Trucks
This mid-week NASCAR event was all Timothy Peters. The Virginia driver took the pole and led every lap en route to his third win of the season. Rounding out the top five were the trucks of Parker Kligerman, Ross Chastain, Joey Coulter and Brendan Gaughan.
The latest win extends Peters points lead over James Buescher and a few more over Ty Dillon.
In what might be among NASCAR’s worst kept secrets, Roger Penske did make a comment that Joey Logano could be one of the candidates to take over the driving duties of the No. 22 Cup car for next season and beyond. (ESPN.com)
I think it would be a great fit. How about you? Drop me a line.
That’s it for this week. Next week, RWR will review the NASCAR action from Atlanta Motor Speedway along with more racing news from around the globe.