Race Capsule: Logano thwarts Harvick in classic night Bristol duel
Our prayers are with Justin Wilson and his family and friends after his serious injuries in the IndyCar Series race at Pocono Raceway.
Flag to flag: Saturday's 500-lap Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway went without much of the carnage
Denny Hamlin (3rd) started from the pole and led 54 laps in the early going. But he wasn't a match for his teammates. Kyle Busch (8th) was the man to beat, just as he was when he won Friday's Xfinity Series race. He led a race-high 192
With problems plaguing JGR's drivers, Joey Logano took the lead for the first time on lap 225 and continuously
Logano easily reclaimed the lead, but didn't hold it easily, as a fast-charging Kevin Harvick (2nd) kept closing in as Logano battled lap traffic. Logano would back off early in the corner, float high, and then get hard back into the throttle. But Harvick's approach saw him charge deep into the corner and right up to Logano, then back off, then hit the gas later than the No. 22 car. Harvick kept closing on Logano's rear bumper and one time Logano cut low across the track to dodge a lap car and almost hit the nose of Harvick's No. 4. The battle between two drivers with a history seemed like it could play out in
As the laps counted up, Logano slowly creeped away, but never too far. Harvick tried desperately to overtake him and kept coming up short in the center of the turns - classic short track action. Then in the final corner, Harvick surged high to make a last ditch effort, but Logano took the checkered flag in the Bristol night race for the second-straight year and won for the second time in three races.
The Chase standings amongst winless drivers did not change really and that group of drivers is in great shape in the next two weeks to cruise into NASCAR's playoffs, barring a driver outside the top 15 in points doesn't catch a win at Darlington and Richmond. Clint Bowyer (5th) was a top 10 car much of the
Jeff Gordon (20th) was strong much of the
The top 10 at Bristol were Logano, Harvick, Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson (stayed in top 10 much of the night, but never a factor), Bowyer, Keselowski, Edwards, Ky. Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr. (came back from being a lap down, after pitting under green), and Ryan Newman (another quiet top 10 - just like 2014).
This Bristol race lacked conflict and big
RaceTweet: "Sliced Bread" Logano slices through traffic to keep Harvick at bay and win Bristol. And no, they didn't fight later.
Handsome Boy Modeling School Stud of the Race: Joey Logano led the most laps and won, but that wasn't the only
North Korean Missile Dud: Matt Kenseth - The only unmentioned effort in the JGR camp is Kenseth's. The spring Bristol winner and winner of two of the last three Cup races started 13th and lost an engine on lap 110, finishing 42nd. Some people lost some NASCAR fantasy points there (not me, for once).
Never Fear, Underdog is Here: Justin Allgaier - Allgaier's
Ghost Driver: Kasey Kahne - His 16th-place finish was another
You Can Comeback, But You Can't Stay Here: Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. - All pitted or lost track position and laps for various reasons and drove around some really good cars back into the top 10 and in a race that didn't see many yellow flags until the late stages.
Wheel of Misfortune: Kyle Larson - After being fast all weekend in both the NXS (where he finished 2nd Friday) and NSCS cars, Larson cut tires twice Saturday night and hit the wall. The second wreck sent Larson packing, out of the race in 41st place. He will need to win a race to make the Chase in his slumping sophomore season.
Jimmie Johnson Golden Horseshoe: Clint Bowyer - Bowyer got spun after his teammate Ragan spun across his nose. There is little room to spin and not hit something at Bristol and the cars bounding down on the No. 15 machine, all bunched up just laps after a restart, could have easily caused him damage and hurt him in the points. But Bowyer escaped unscathed and then notched a top 5. That is a big shot in the arm for Michael Waltrip Racing in its last season.
Head-Scratcher Crown of Thorns: The MWR closure - Bad news broke last week for Michael Waltrip Racing, as the team announced it would not run next season. Co-owner Rob Kauffman is taking his majority-stake in the team and will invest in Chip Ganassi Racing. That makes sense, as he wants to back a winning team (though CGR does not statistically run much better than MWR). Kauffman also said in a Friday press conference that he looks forward to not having to worry about the day-to-day operations of a race team, like he does at MWR.
But here's what makes little sense. Kauffman said that he invested too much of his own money in MWR for the team to run as poorly as it has. The thing is, for the most part, MWR's cars have been fully-funded, and certainly were this season. So if the sponsors are there, why is Kauffman having to sink so much money into a team. This likely means that something somewhere was mismanaged. Whether that be personnel or finances, something here just adds up in a weird way.
Also lost in the fold of the bad news is the future of David Ragan and Aaron's from the No. 55 team. Bowyer is certainly the lead driver of MWR and the bigger star, but Ragan and Aaron's have been much more of an afterthought in the entire discussion. Where they end up is a big question for the 2015 Silly Season as well.
And if all the infrastructure is there, couldn't Waltrip try and keep the team open? They do have sponsors (at the very least, 5-Hour Energy and Aaron's has been a 15-year MWR partner). There is more to this than we know. Maybe neither Kauffman or Waltrip wanted the hassle anymore. Other teams have stayed open in more dire times, for sure.
Georgia on My Mind: As noted, David Ragan ran in the top 5 or top 10 (and started 3rd) all evening at Bristol. But Jimmie Johnson swung to Ragan's outside just after a lap 368 restart. Bowyer looked low under Ragan and the trio entered a turn three-wide. Johnson cut low, forcing Ragan across Bowyer's nose and into the wall. Ragan took the No. 55 to the garage for radiator repairs and finished 40th. Reed Sorenson failed to make the race for Premium Motorsports.
Friday's race was not too bad for the Georgia gang. Chase Elliott started 10th and finished 7th, his second 7th-place run in three races. He gained some points on leader Chris Buescher (who dominated the late part of the race until running out of fuel on the last restart), but lost some to Ty Dillon. Elliott trails Buescher by 23 points and Dillon by four in the standings.
Brandon Jones finished 13th solidly in the Richard Childress Racing No. 33. Ryan Sieg was 16th and John Wes Townley got in a wreck and was 23rd.
The Wednesday night Camping World Truck Series race was won by Ryan Blaney, but Jones stayed in the high running the whole time, even restarting 2nd on the final restart. He finished 5th. John Wes Townley was 11th and sits 8th in points. Wendell Chavous and Korbin Forrister were 22nd and 23rd, many laps down.