Still feeling the effects of crashing during a recent practice run, Brad Keselowski once again surprised his competitors and the crowd at Bristol on Saturday night in taking the checkers at the grueling 500 lap event.
While he had run fairly well during the hot long venue, Keselowski’s Dodge managed to get out ahead of long time leader Jeff Gordon after a few great pit stops and stayed out front while Gordon frustratingly tried to pass runner-up Martin Truex Jr.
The night started with Ryan Newman on the pole, but the Stewart-Haas driver led only the first four laps while Gordon jumped out front for the first of many laps on the night.
Keselowski took a turn out front as did Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson.
As these drivers were fighting for the lead, Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin, Paul Menard, Clint Bowyer, Greg Biffle and Kurt Busch were struggling just to stay on the lead lap, earnestly looking for some kind of decent finish to elevate their standings or shot at a spot in the Chase.
Stewart wound up 28, Biffle 31, Menard 30, Bowyer 26, with only Hamlin recovering from an earlier wreck to salvage a seventh place finish.
With only two weeks remaining before the Chase members are decided, the big clock is ticking and for some, the grains of sand are running out.
Those drivers not sleeping well with worries would include Stewart, Bowyer, Hamlin and Dale Earnhardt Jr, all on a very slippery slope.
Keselowski’s latest win puts him in the No. 1 wildcard spot, especially with three wins and who would think that the Penske driver would have notched three wins by now especially with a broken foot.
Points leader Kyle Busch tangled with the wall slightly, but enough to keep him out of the top ten, but good enough to stay atop the standings, now tied with Johnson.
Carl Edwards never did dial his car in to optimum standards, but was good enough to earn a ninth place finish, which keeps him in fourth place in the standings.
Nationwide - Kyle Busch managed to barely hold off teammate Joey Logano at the stripe to earn his 50 career win in the Nationwide series.
Others in the top five included Bowyer, Edwards and Aric Almirola.
The rest of the event was fairly ho-hum with 32 cars finishing on the lead lap while the Cup invaders ran away with the gold.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr finished 11, yet good enough to stay on top of the points with Elliott Sadler only five markers back and Reed Sorensen 10 in arrears.
The special Wednesday night edition of truck racing at Bristol saw Kevin Harvick take the trophy after Parker Kliggerman took out Mark Martin within a handful of laps remaining. Other potential winners Kyle Busch and Sadler tangled mid-race, ending any shot at a win.
Johnny Sauter was a close second followed by Todd Bodine, James Buescher and Timothy Peters.
Sauter leads the points, but only by seven more than Buescher and 15 more than Peters.
Open Wheel News - The Indy Car series traveled out West to Fontana, California for an Infineon road racing venue. The Penske boys, Will Power, Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe swept the top three spots in qualifying, and went on to record the same top three finishing for the first time since 1994.
Ganassi boys Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon rounded off the top five. Franchitti still sits out front, but now by only 26 over Power.
Danica Patrick started in 25 place and finished a dismal, never-a-factor 21.
Across the pond, the Formula One series was racing in Belgium where Sebastien Vettel once again took the pole and the win, this time over teammate Mark Webber and Jenson Button.
Vettel still maintains a very comfortable points lead over Webber.
From Rumorville - The worst kept secret in NASCAR was finally put to rest this past week, when Danica Patrick announced her leaving Indy Cars for a full-time gig in Nationwide action under the Junior Motorsports banner. In addition, the diminutive GoDaddy driver will pilot around 10 events in Cup under Stewart-Haas directions and may still compete in the 2012 Indy 500.
Do I think she has the talent to do well in either? No, I don’t. How many 105 pound drivers (male or female) have ever done well in either division? Answer…..zero. She has gotten this far in racing because of a pretty face and marketability.
That’s it for this week. Next week, RWR will review the racing results from Atlanta where all three top NASCAR divisions will compete along with more racing action from around the globe.