The Final Word – Bristol was one heck of a race…if you were able to see it

Rain. That was the theme of the cool, overcast, and often wet event at Bristol last Sunday. Rain delayed things, then stopped it all together for two hours as we sat on lap 125 of 500 for a spell.  Often in the past, we have seen the guys who are leading near the start of the race just happen to be the same dudes there at the end. This was not one of those races.

Carl Edwards was nowhere to be seen early, but he emerged in the second half to lead 78 laps en route to his 22nd career Cup victory. It was like a Talladega night as some unexpected names finished near the front. Ricky Stenhouse Jr and Aric Almirola rounded up the podium finishers, while Tony Stewart had his best result since his return from surgery, followed by Marcos Ambrose.  It was not how we thought this might end.

For example, Matt Kenseth led the most laps, but it was an up and down day for him. He led early, but when Timmy Hill ran him over he found himself back in 30th.  He eventually worked his way back to the front again, only to fade over the final hundred laps to wind up 13th.

That was one better than Brad Keselowski, he appeared done with about fifty left after he thundered into Jamie McMurray. It is tough to stop in oil, and after Kevin Harvick’s engine let go, there was lots to be found. Harvick once again had a good car, a horrid result (39th), and a lot of flames.

Jimmie Johnson’s hopes unraveled. Literally. When you take a baseball apart, you go through a ton of string before you get to the rubber center. For Jimmie Johnson’s front right tire, you had a ribbon of rubber before getting to the cords. That flat took Six Time off the lead lap before the red flag and he never quite got back into a position to matter, winding up 19th a couple of laps down.

Them Busch boys usually do well at Bristol, and for the first part of the race they were up there. The next thing you know they are battling Junior and Danica for the lucky dog.  I would say that was a sign of the Apocalypse, then I remembered who the Grand Marshal is slated to be in California. No, THAT was the true sign. Junior had tire issues, not once but twice, and then he was…Gonzo. Kurt kept flirting with getting that lucky dog, but instead got the fence with his right rear with about a hundred to go.  That dropped him into Unhappyland (35th) with the likes of his brother (29th), Junior (24th), and the power steering challenged Joey Logano (20th).  Patrick finished 18th.

So, TSN booted the race to FOX, who sent it to FOX 1, and for a lot of us, that was the end of the visual component of the race. Why does NASCAR allow race coverage to wind up in spots where a lot of folks get shut out?  My guess is it is due to NASCAR really not giving a damn about you. If they did, you would be looked after. Pretty simple, really.  I moved my Sirius out from the house to the car as it proved a real pain trying to secure a signal. I loaned my car to my sons to drive to college Sunday afternoon. Adios the audio component.  Thank God for the Internet and my ability to read.

Weird race. We had a battery fall out of a car, tossing toilet paper everywhere, then a mystery caution at the end when the lights just started flashing after someone accidently leaned against the button.  It would seem your butt can do more than just make phone calls.

So Kyle Busch wins Saturday’s Nationwide race, his 65th career win in the juniors, his 2nd of the season, and his 7th at this particular track. As he won, he is the only Cup guy who mattered. Regan Smith finished 10th as he leads the series by a point over eighth place finisher Trevor Bayne. Ty Dillon was the best finisher amongst series regulars, as his sixth place finish Saturday leaves him eight points out of top spot. Dear ESPN, these are the drivers you should have been interviewing, not fawning all over the Cup dudes like doe eyed gals at a high school dance.  Pretty damn pathetic, to be honest with you.

In the end, Bristol lived up to its billing. Too bad about the rain, the long delay, and the lack of television coverage for many. Other than that, it was darn near perfect. This upcoming weekend, they are off to  Fontana, California.  Kyle Busch won there last year. Hell, he won the Nationwide race in 2013 as well, his sixth time kicking the stuffings out of the underfunded and under-experienced on the west coast.  While Harvick (2011), Edwards (2008), Kasey Kahne (fall 2006), and Greg Biffle (spring 2005) have won there in recent memory, it is just as likely the man on top next week will have a name like Tony, Jimmie, Matt…or Kyle.  Of the other 11 Cup events run there over the past nine years, all were claimed by one from that quartet.  

All eight of the above named are currently sitting in a Sweet 16 spot to make the Chase, with the exception of Tony Stewart. He is 20 points out though, as Harvick demonstrates,  points do not matter as long as one has a victory to their credit.







  Brad Keselowski





  Dale Earnhardt, Jr.





  Carl Edwards





  Kevin Harvick





  Jeff Gordon





  Jimmie Johnson





  Joey Logano





  Denny Hamlin





  Matt Kenseth





  Ryan Newman





  Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.





  Kasey Kahne





  Greg Biffle





  Austin Dillon





  Kyle Busch





  Marcos Ambrose




The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of

Ron Thornton
Ron Thornton
A former radio and television broadcaster, newspaper columnist, Little League baseball coach, Ron Thornton has been following NASCAR on this site since 2004. While his focus may have changed over recent years, he continues to make periodic appearances only when he has something to say. That makes him a rather unique journalist.


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