NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race

NASCAR Presents the Crash-Boom-Bang 500 [Cup Series Live Thread]

8/27/11 in NASCAR   |   kramer   |   11004 respect

Hello out there in FanIQ Land!  Tonight, the weekend under the lights concludes at the World's Fastest Half-Mile.  It's the Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.  This has been one of the hardest tickets to get in NASCAR since Eisenhower was President (okay, Bristol hasn't even been around that long) because...THIS IS BRISTOL, BABY!  Former crew chief and current FOX and TNT broadcaster Larry McReynolds says it best, check your feelings in at the hotel, because if you bring them to the track with you, they WILL get hurt.  We'll see 500 laps around this .533 mile bullring.  We saw it already Wednesday night in the truck race when Kyle Busch tried to slide up in front of Elliott Sadler, but wasn't quite clear.  He got turned into the wall, then waited for Sadler to come back around and spun him out.  What will we see in 500 laps tonight?

This place is very unique.  It's a short track, but it's one of the highest banked tracks on the NASCAR circuit, with the progressive banking being 24 to 30 degrees.  It's also the only track left that still uses the back pit road.

The Rocketman, Ryan Newman, captured the pole.  Would you believe this is Ryan's first pole of the season?!  It's true, but it's career pole #47.  He leads the field to the green flag along side 2008 Bristol Night winner, "Concrete" Carl Edwards.  Take a look at the rest of the starting lineup.  Talk about crazy qualifying, while Newman has the pole, you'll see his owner and teammate Tony Stewart is starting 42nd!  I'm sure Smoke would love to see another 1-2 finish like he and Ryan had at Loudon in July, but backwards with Stewart in victory lane.

This is the final stretch before Chase time, and there are a few drivers who desperately need a good finish, and a win would be even better.  Denny Hamlin has 1 victory, and a second one would get him in with the Wild Card, he starts 20th.  Tony Stewart missed the Chase in 2006, and is very much in danger of missing it again if he doesn't win or at least get a top 5 tonight.  He has his work cut out for him though.  Clint Bowyer always seems to be able to race his way into the Chase, and he starts 16th.  Greg Biffle also needs a win, and he starts the best of any of the guys who don't currently hold the WC position.  the Biff starts 14th.

What about first-time winners?  We've seen 5 alone this year, the most I can ever remember seeing in a single season, and including tonight we still have 13 races to go in 2011.  Here's the kicker, they've all won the biggest races of the year.  Trevor Bayne became the youngest winner of the Daytona 500, giving himself a 20th birthday present he will never forget.  Then Regan Smith, who shot himself in the foot passing below the line at Talladega a few years ago, won the Southern 500 at Darlington, first driver since Lake Speed in 1988 to win his first race at the Lady in Black.  David Ragan, who muffed his shot to win the Daytona 500, won on 4th of July weekend at Daytona.  Then just a few weeks later, Paul Menard won the Brickyard 400.  Just 2 weeks ago, the Tasmanian Devil, Marcos Ambrose, won at Watkins Glen after coming so close in road races so many times already.

There has also been a fair share of champions who won for the first time at Bristol, such as Kurt Busch, Rusty Wallace, and Dale Earnhardt.  Ernie Irvan also won this race for his first back in 1990.  Speaking of the Busch Brothers, they've owned this track over the last 9 years, keep an eye on them.  So who wins this mess?  I'm tempted to go with one of the Busch Brothers, but I'm not.

My Pick: Matt Kenseth
He never qualifies well, so when he does the rest of the field needs to watch out.  Kenseth starts 3rd.  Last time he started this well in this race, he sat on the pole in the night race and led over 400 laps en route to a one-man show that really hasn't been seen since at Bristol.

Dark Horse: Brad Keselowski
Brad all but has a Wild Card spot wrapped up for the Chase.  All he's out for now is wins, as he's the only driver outside the top 20 with 2 wins.  He's almost won a couple of others as well.  This is his 2nd full season, and he's getting better with experience for sure.  I'd keep an eye on him not just tonight when he rolls off 8th, but for the rest of the season as he may be a dark horse in the championship stretch.

Who's your pick and dark horse?  Will Harvick and Shrub hit wit's end tonight?  Who will be at each other's throats at the end of this race if they're not?

Join in the fun, share your opinions, tell us about the race.  This is your official open race thread, LET'S GO RACING!
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8/27/11   |   kramer   |   11004 respect

Keselowski wins his 3rd of the year, and solidifies his place in the Chase.  He may not be  WC though, as he now sits just 21 points out of 10th behind Stewart with 2 races to go.  If he makes it in and Bowyer or Stewart don't get a victory, that puts it up for grabs between Menard, Ambrose, and Ragan.

8/27/11   |   kramer   |   11004 respect

Smash goes the #5, Mark Martin is done for the night.

8/27/11   |   kramer   |   11004 respect

Reutimann done blowed up.  Behind him, Menard gets into Hamlin sending both through the spin cycle, both of them kept it off the wall and kept going though.  Hamlin is another who can ill afford a bad finish.

8/27/11   |   kramer   |   11004 respect

RCR is SOL tonight.

8/27/11   |   kramer   |   11004 respect

Tony Stewart and Clint Bowyer both went a lap down early.  Greg Biffle made a green flag pit stop and lost 2 laps, made a pit stop under the next caution and got a speeding ticket.  The guys trying to race into the Chase without a win aren't making it easy for themselves tonight.  Although Denny Hamlin is moving towards the front.