Parks Race Reactions: Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol

Dustin ParksAnalyst IAugust 22, 2010

BRISTOL, TN - AUGUST 21:  Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Doublemint Toyota, poses in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 21, 2010 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
John Harrelson/Getty Images

The cliche is to "expect the unexpected." At Bristol, that is normally a way of life.

Anything can happen when it comes to this track, whether it happens on the racing surface, or on pit road following the checkered flag.

However, in a surprising twist, the night race at Bristol only had fireworks going off in the air. A new result for a track known for confrontations and angry drivers. But, despite that fact, there was some great racing for the entire 500 laps.

So, here are my race reactions for all the action in the Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol.

The one thing I will say about Bristol is that the one thing the track officials know how to have fun. There is no other track that drivers enter to their own theme music. It's almost as if they turn into WWE or TNA stars when greeting the fans.

Sure, the Budweiser Shootout has the competing drivers come out on stage all at once, but that's nothing compared to what Bristol does.

I have yet to visit this great track, but then again getting a seat there is practically impossible. That's always expected when it is the most popular track on the circuit. Even when the Nationwide race was held the night before, the crowd was phenomenal.

Every race at this track is an adventure, and once again the stars of NASCAR didn't disappoint. Like the saying goes, it's Bristol baby.

The race itself had two drivers be the class of the field. Unfortunately both drivers ended at opposite ends of the spectrum.

The first two-thirds of the race belonged to Jimmie Johnson. Started on the pole, had the best pit stall, and had the most dominant car.

But, as quickly as it looked like his night was going to be prosperous, he end up at the bottom of the barrel. His run-in alongside Juan Pablo Montoya ended with his No. 48 car in the outside wall entering turn 3.

At the time, Johnson had a right to be frustrated, as he thought he was clear of the No. 42. Maybe he felt that Montoya was the guilty party by turning him.

But, I'm sure by now he has seen the replay and saw that no one was at fault. Even Montoya felt bad about what happened as his crew told Johnson after the race.

Still, it appears that the momentum Johnson had the last few years entering the Chase is nowhere to be found. Has his "golden horseshoe" disappeared, or is it hiding?

In my opinion, I believe it is gone, and the rest of the field is ready to pounce.

The other driver who was at the front was Kyle Busch. The big difference is that when this night ended, he had many reasons to be jubilant.

On Wednesday night, Busch took his own team to victory lane in the Camping World Truck Series. On Friday, in the Nationwide Series race, after a huge battle with Brad Keselowski that ended with a spin to the outside wall, Busch went to victory lane a second time.

Finally, on Saturday night, the No. 18 Doublemint Toyota got to the front before the halfway point. At that point, every fan, media member and driver knew that it was going to be hard to beat Busch.

Busch got the lead for the final time on lap 429, and no other driver had anything for him.

After missing out on sweeping an entire NASCAR weekend, Busch finished the trifecta in winning the Irwin Tools Night Race. He deserved to take every bow after grabbing that checkered flag, and the boos from the crowd were almost encouragement. After the "dumping" of Keselowski in the Nationwide race, even more fans decided to hate the guy known as "Rowdy."

But, I think he got some more fans, and above everything else, more respect from his competitors. There's no question that Busch is a great driver, and by sweeping this past weekend's races, he has taken a giant step forward.

Thankfully, the Sprint Cup Series has a week off, so maybe then the competition can figure out a way to beat Busch.

Whether they can or not is probably uncertain.


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