There have been several non-full-time drivers visiting Victory Lane this season in the Nationwide Series, but only one of them doesn't have a Sprint Cup ride. At Bristol Motor Speedway, Ryan Blaney continued his rise to stardom in NASCAR with a late win over Kyle Busch.
The 20-year-old only led seven laps during the event, but he made the most of his opportunity. In just his 24th race at the Nationwide level, Blaney earned his second win and 17th top-10 finish on the short track.
As for the man just behind him, Kyle Busch was none too pleased with the final result. After leading 161 laps during the event, Busch had a poor restart and was never able to chase down Blaney.
Busch voiced his frustration over the finish, per Jay Pennell of Fox Sports:
Everybody always tries to hold back to the inside and they try to time a run so that when the leader goes, they have momentum on the leader. I'm trying to maintain regular speed and those guys are falling back, falling back. Then I try to fall back and they fall back more. …
It's stupid. NASCAR doesn't police it. So everybody keeps jacking around on it, and one these days I'm going to lock all four (tires) down and stack the whole field up.
The Sprint Cup driver would then follow that up by wrecking and getting called out by his crew chief, per Bob Pockrass of Sporting News. Needless to say, it wasn't Busch's weekend.
While neither of the top-two drivers were racing for points, the man just behind them maintained his lead. Chase Elliott finished third and is still narrowly ahead of teammate Regan Smith by 13 points in the standings.
Before the Great Clips 300 gets underway in Atlanta, here's a look at the schedule, standings and full preview for the race.
Great Clips 300 Information
Where: Atlanta Motor Speedway, Hampton, Georgia
When: Saturday, Aug. 30, 7:30 p.m. ET
Live Stream: WatchESPN
|Pos.||Driver||Points||Wins||Top 5||Top 10|
Following Blaney's win, the young driver will not be returning to the track in Atlanta. Busch, on the other hand, will be involved in the race along with a bevy of other Sprint Cup drivers.
Those entries include drivers such as Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano and Kyle Larson. While there will be several notable drivers in the field, one team has been dominant on the track over the last week, as NASCAR on ESPN points out:
Who will win the race in Atlanta?
With Logano looking for another victory heading into the weekend, he could continue the trend for the team on Saturday.
The Nationwide race will serve as a tuneup for the Sprint Cup drivers, but the championship contenders are looking to distance themselves as well. One in particular is Elliott, who has yet to race at a track where he hasn't looked comfortable behind the wheel.
Just 18 years old, the son of Bill Elliott has remained atop the standings for several weeks now. Despite early issues at Bristol, the rookie found a way back to the top of the leaderboard to lead 59 laps.
Pockrass and Elliot Mabe, Elliott's PR representative, tweeted about the JR Motorsports driver's day:
Chase Elliott hit wall earlier. Now leads. #nascar— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) August 23, 2014
He wasn't able to pull out the win, but Elliott came away with more respect for his driving ability. Now the driver returns back to a track he's comfortable with near home, as he noted following the race:
Wild night under the lights! We'll take it though. Lookin forward to goin HOME this week!!! #di9— Chase Elliott (@chaseelliott) August 23, 2014
Elliott's teammate Smith might be just behind him in the standings, but he didn't leave Bristol happy.
Despite a top-five finish, he was not pleased with Ty Dillon on the track. The young driver battled with Smith throughout the night, eventually finishing narrowly ahead of him for fourth behind Elliott.
Smith spoke about Dillon's driving style after the race, per Pennell:
I just felt for the entire race, there were three or four times tonight he ran me in the fence off of Turn 4. Everyone else out there seems to be able give room, and he doesn't. That last one could have ended our night. I explained that to him. He said he got tight, and that seems to always be the excuse. When you get tight, you usually lift off the gas pedal. Next time I run over him, I'm going to get tight, too.
The two exchanged words on pit road, which might boil over to Atlanta as the two drivers continue to remain near the top of the standings.
Currently, both are in the top three behind Elliott in the points race. Each driver has plenty to fight for following a phenomenal summer thus far, so expect this to be a battle to watch every week on the track.
As the season nears the final stretch, the intrigue will only continue to build moving forward. Whether it's the points race or star power from the Sprint Cup drivers, there will be plenty of reasons to watch the Nationwide race in Atlanta.
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