In the 1990's, country music star Garth Brooks had a single titled, "Thunder Rolls." Although the song was about the disasters of love, the title is the perfect way to describe Bristol.
There is nowhere to hide when trouble strikes, as the close racing puts everyone at risk. Hot tempers soon follow, with some so called "discussions" turning into confrontations.
Who could forget Kevin Harvick leaping off pit wall right into the face of Greg Biffle, or Ward Burton showing his displeasure of Dale Earnhardt Jr. by throwing his foot shields at his window.
Then there's Jimmie Johnson who decided to tell Robby Gordon, "You're number one" without opening his mouth.
It's the Bristol Motor Speedway, it's Thunder Valley, and it's the reason over 160,000 people surround this 0.533-mile oval. Every race has something new, something exciting, and something that will leave the fans wanting more.
Tonight, we have 43 drivers ready to tackle the high backs. Out front is Johnson, who won at Bristol in the spring. He has been in a downward spiral the last month, as bad runs, bad luck, and unfortunate circumstances have taken him down in the point standings. However, he has the best view of everyone when the green flag drops. But the question remains: can he keep his car there?
So far, this entire week has been the Kyle Busch show. He won the caution-plagued Truck Race on Wednesday night. Last night, he and Brad Keselowski had an intense battle out front.
It was Busch taking the win after "dumping" Keselowski into the wall. After the race, he told the media: "He does it to everyone else. Why can't I do it to him?"
Tonight he goes for the trifecta. No driver has ever won the Truck, Nationwide, and Sprint Cup races at one track in one weekend. Busch had this same opportunity at Texas last year, only to run out of fuel in the late laps.
If there was ever a track that he can get the job done, Bristol is that track.
But there's plenty of hungry drivers that want to prevent that from happening. Guys named Gordon, Edwards, Earnhardt, and others are craving a win. They will put everything on the line tonight, and will go all out for that checkered flag.
NASCAR Countdown will start tonight's activities at 7 p.m. on ABC. Alan Bestwick, Rusty Wallace, Brad Daugherty, and Ray Evernham will host the preview show.
Then, at 7:30, the Irwin Tools Night Race will be ready to roll as Marty Reid, Andy Petree, and Dale Jarrett have the call in the booth.
CHECKERED FLAG: It is a complete sweep for Kyle Busch as he wins the Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol. Reutimann finishes second, and McMurray comes all the way from two pit road penalties to finish third.
Jeff Gordon clinches his spot in the 2010 Chase for the Cup with his 11th-place finish.
Lap 500: WHITE FLAG-Busch in front.
Lap 496: Good battle for fourth between Bowyer and Kahne, as Bowyer has a 100 point advantage on Martin in 13th.
Busch is saying the track bar mount or may have a flat tire. Firmly in hand.
Lap 493: Busch is beginning to get close to Keselowski, but looks like no retribution will happen tonight.
Lap 487: Earnhardt Jr. falls back to 13th, last car on the lead lap. Say's he's just holding onto the car, as it is wicked loose.
Lap 482: Under 20 laps to go, and it's over a two-second advantage for Busch. Unless we get a caution, this race appears to be in the bag for the No. 18.
Lap 467: Only 13 cars on the lead lap, with the first car one lap down being the points leader, Kevin Harvick.
Lap 462: It's down to 39 laps to go, and it's unclear as to whether the fireworks are going to happen in this race.
But, anything can happen.
Lap 429: LEAD CHANGE-Reutimann gets loose and it allows Busch to get to the inside and retake the top spot.
Lap 414: RESTART-Reutimann brings the field to green, and is holding off Busch at every challenge.
Behind them, McMurray and Bowyer battle for position. Kahne also is now in the mix.
Lap 409: CAUTION No. 7-Debris on the track. Pit stops have been done, but damage is noticed on the No. 18 at the right-front corner. Was going to come in, but faked and stayed out.
Lap 404: Majority of the field has come in for service, and it's currently Reutimann at the front via him being the first car coming in for service.
Lap 390: LEAD CHANGE-McMurray goes to the front using the high line.
Lap 384: Kasey Kahne slows on the track, as yet another right-front tire goes down.
Lap 375: McMurray is closing in on the lead as the lead is down to less than a second. Busch lost a lot of time as he got caught up behind Keselowski.
No contact this time.
Lap 353: Matt Kenseth hits pit road for a two-tire stop. Looks like another right-front issue.
Lap 325: Johnson set to come back onto the track after repairs. He is listed in 35th, and will probably end up ninth in the standings after this weekend.
Lap 312: Busch's lead is now 1.5 seconds over Reutimann. Clint Bowyer is running third after using strategy early to gain positions.
He currently has a firm grasp on the 12th spot in the points, the last spot in the Chase.
Lap 268: RESTART-Busch gets another great jump, Montoya has a huge tire rub.
Johnson's team discovered a cracked oil cooler, causing them to head to the hauler for repairs.
Lap 265: Denny Hamlin goes behind the wall, as he's complaining of a vibration in the shifter. Johnson also goes behind the wall, and he's heading to the truck.
Montoya shows the damage to the left-front, evident he got into him.
Lap 262: Johnson was running with Montoya, and the two get together. Looks like the No. 42 hooked him, and Johnson is the one at the bad end.
Johnson on the radio: "I gave him room, what the hell?!"
Lap 261: RESTART/CAUTION No. 6-Busch gets a great run.but the action came from behind.
Johnson was running with Montoya, and the two get together. Looks like the No. 42 hooked him, and the No. 48 is the one at the bad end.
Lap 258: Edwards leaves pit road with a missing lug nut, must come back in to put a new one on.
Lap 253: CAUTION No. 5-Bobby Labonte blows his right-front tire. The harder tire Goodyear brought this weekend is creating a little havoc, as that's now four that have gone just in the first half.
Lots of cars have scrapes on the right side of the cars, including Johnson and Juan Pablo Montoya. Many cars complaining of being loose, get adjustments on pit stops.
Busch beats Johnson off pit road to hold the lead.
Lap 243: While leading by 2.5 seconds, Busch now records his 1,000th career lap led at Bristol.
Lap 241: Both Reutimann and Edwards are challenging Johnson for the second spot.
Lap 236: Good recovery for McMurray as he's running 12th, and that's after two pit road penalties.
Gordon still on the move, almost in the top-five. He can clinch his spot in the Chase depending on his finish tonight.
Lap 200: RESTART/LEAD CHANGE-Johnson brings the field to green, but is caught three-wide entering turn 3 and is the meat in a Toyota sandwich.
Busch goes to the lead, and David Reutimann goes to second. Johnson now is in third and trying to come back.
Lap 196: LEAD CHANGE-Johnson takes the lead on pit road, but keeps the spot coming out as he barely beats the No. 18 to the line.
Lap 192: CAUTION No. 4-Scott Speed has his right-front tire go down, gets into the wall out of turn 2. He was only a few lengths in front of the leader.
Lap 172: LEAD CHANGE-The high side is the way to go for Kyle Busch as he puts the No. 18 out front for the first time.
This could be the night that the trifecta is completed.
Lap 167: All four Hendrick cars are in the top-12. Johnson has been dominating the race to this point, leading all but two laps.
Both Gordon and Junior have moved up to the front, as Gordon is ninth and Junior is 12th. Martin is in 11th, which means a great turnaround for the entire organization from last week.
Lap 141: RESTART-Field is rolling again with Johnson out front, however Kyle Busch is right there.
Lap 136: CAUTION No. 3-Regan Smith blows the right-front tire, gets into the wall. A shock lying on the track gets run over by Denny Hamlin.
Hamlin does enter pit road to get service and check the car.
Lap 132: RESTART-Johnson uses the outside line to bring the field to green, but behind him now is the No. 18 of Kyle Busch.
Lap 127: CAUTION No. 2-David Ragan spins into the wall in the No. 6 Ford after contact with A.J. Allmendinger.
Regan Smith also spins entering turn 3, but Stewart has damage on the back, a result as Tony Raines couldn't check up in time because of the caution.
Lap 100: With one-fifth of the race in, Johnson looks extremely tough. Could be a bad omen if his momentum continues tonight.
Lap 87: Lead for Johnson is a half second, but Stewart appears fast on the bottom
Lap 63: LEAD CHANGE-Johnson goes back to the front.
Lap 62: RESTART/LEAD CHANGE-Johnson in the lead from the outside, but it is Stewart taking the lead at the line.
Lap 56: CAUTION No. 1-David Gilliland gets into the wall in turn 4. Pit stops do not shake up the field much as Johnson and Stewart exit first and second. Jamie McMurray slides through his stall, loses several spots.
Clint Bowyer gambles and goes with two tires early, gaining 12 spots. That strategy will work now at this track.
Lap 42: Jeff Gordon is making the move forward as he cracks the top-20. This car he's running will not run anymore this year. Could mean he'll sacrifice the car if need be tonight.
Lap 13: Johnson is already in traffic, giving Tony Stewart a chance to catch him.
Lap 10: Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski get alongside each other early, but give each other room. It's early, things could change.
Lap 1: Jimmie Johnson leads the first lap.
7:49 PM: We are green.
7:41 PM: Delwyn Thorton gives the command.
7:32 PM: The children from tonight's starting grid, both drivers and pit crews, sing the National Anthem.
7:31 PM: Invocation by Ruth Graham.
7:20 PM: The ESPN team discuss the "boys will be boys" idea that has been reintroduced this year. Is it good for the sport, or could NASCAR be walking a very fine line on this idea?
Bristol could bring out the devil in many drivers tonight.
7:00 PM: NASCAR Countdown begins with a talk about Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch from last night's Nationwide race. Meanwhile, driver introductions include drivers coming out to their own theme music.
Busch comes out to a roar of boos, says "You guys are so loving. I am ready to win it again."
Keselowski comes out and says "Kyle Busch is an ass." The crowd goes insane. Could set the stage for tonight's race.
6:44 PM: There is a 30 percent chance of rain in the forecast for tonight's race. Current conditions are partly cloudy and the temperature is 77 degrees. However, with dew points in the low 70's, it will be rather muggy for everyone at the track.
The low for tonight's race will be 71 degrees, so expect a warm and sticky concrete surface for the teams to race on.
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