The Final Word – With all the rain and challenges at Bristol, the only guy missing was Jeff Probst

Bristol. Just about the only thing missing was Jeff Probst and his Tribal Council as this turned into a game of survival. With the rains that delayed the start, the rains that stopped it again and again, the day race that ran into night became a reality show of its own.

Take Kevin Harvick, for instance. He led 186 of the eventual 511 laps, but at Lap 310 he slid into a wrecked David Ragan and he found himself voted off the island in 38th place. If not Harv, then it was Kurt Busch in a dominant car. With eight to go, he took the brunt of it when Jeff Gordon got into Carl Edwards. Busch at least managed a 15th for his troubles.

Then there was the case of Team Penske. You know you needed a hidden immunity idol when things go down the outdoor commode during the opening credits. Brad Keselowski wobbled and that allowed teammate Joey Logano to put out both their torches. Thirty-fifth and beyond was their fate.

Do you want more examples? After the Penske wreck on the 19th lap, it rained some more. In that time, Denny Hamlin’s stiff neck got worse and when they restarted 18-year-old Erik Jones found himself racing a Cup car for the very first time, ending up 26th.

How good was Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s car? We will never know, as a flat tire took him off the lead lap early, never to be seen again. At least he got 16th when it was all over. As for Austin Dillon, the extra laps before the final re-start ran him out of gas, but even with that he finished 10th.

After a final caution, they needed a green-white-checker, but rain even delayed that, hence those extra caution laps before the fall of the final green. Matt Kenseth got a fine re-start to take a race he was not all that noticeable in, but the victory shows up just fine in the standings. After no wins last season, his 32nd career triumph had to be sweet no matter how he got it. Jimmie Johnson’s car did not look that pretty, but he came back to slip by Gordon for second while Jeff rebounded from a flat that had him down early to grab third. In short, these boys survived. Nobody thrived.

Some folks play the game and slip in under the radar. Tony Stewart was sixth Sunday night, but that was a gift for to a guy who was 15th best at best. Danica Patrick was ninth. Another gift. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was fourth, the best gift of all. Despite that good fortune, Roush-Fenway entries are still coming up short. Trevor Bayne was 28th, Greg Biffle 30th.

Ryan Newman, fifth at Bristol, got 25 points back from his appeal over Tiregate. He still is missing his crew chief and two other team members due to suspension, and Richard Childress will continue his quest for their early return with a further appeal.

It meant jack squat to see Logano win the Saturday XFINITY race at Bristol. Having Daniel Suarez (23 year old from Mexico), Chris Buescher (22), Erik Jones (18), Ty Dillon (23) and Chase Elliott (19) take the next five spots meant everything.

Sunday we had the day long 2015 Food City 500 In Support of Steve Byrnes. For the NASCAR family, the broadcaster and his fight against cancer, is what truly is meaningful. We have tallied the vote, the tribe has spoken, we want you back just as soon as you are able, Steve.

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.


  1. “With eight to go, he took the brunt of it when Jeff Gordon got into Carl Edwards. ”

    Please watch a replay. Gordon and Edwards never touched. Nobody “got into” anybody.


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