The Bristol night race certainly looked better than it has lately. There was a lot of passing and for the second time in his career, Kyle Busch completed the sweep, winning all three Bristol races on the weekend. Love him or hate him, it is an incredible accomplishment and proves that Kyle Busch can really wheel a car. And it’s not like the pole was handed to him. Busch started 18th so he had to pass a few cars to not only get to the front but pass the leader and stay there. And who was that leader? None other than fellow Toyota driver and future teammate Erik Jones. A week after it looked like a Furniture Row 1-2 at Michigan only to lose to the other Kyle (Larson) Erik Jones lost his lead as the track conditions changed late in the race.
Jones had held the bottom throughout the race and led a race high 260 laps. As the night wore on the upper lane became the fastest way around and Busch used that to get around Jones. Busch also made his way through lapped traffic better than. When dealing with lapped cars, when and where you catch them on the track makes all the difference in the world as Jones found out.
Kyle Busch was no slouch throughout the race winning Stage 1 and leading 156 laps overall. Matt Kenseth won Stage 2 and continued his strong showing of late to try and make the playoffs on points at the very least. His battle with Jones at the end was pretty good and showed the young star had respect for Kenseth but when it was go time, he didn’t hesitate to use his bumper in classic Bristol fashion.
Kenseth is currently in 15th place in the playoff standings, sandwiched between Chase Elliott and Jamie McMurray. His recent push has helped gain him ground, but struggling at either Darlington or Richmond could have devastating results.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr really struggled at Bristol. Bristol and Darlington are both decent tracks for him, but as with the rest of his final season, that doesn’t seem to mean much. For whatever reason, his team can’t seem to figure out the issues he is having week in and week out. Jr is solidly behind his crew chief Greg Ives, but one has to wonder if something has to change in order for him to compete for a win before the end of this season. The 88 and 48 share a garage so something is amiss for the entire organization. Kasey Kahne has his win, but he is just not running well either, even when he qualifies well.
Denny Hamlin finished third in spite of himself. Hamlin was trying to brake check his way on pit road into being able to start in a different position but his efforts never panned out and he wound up in the same lane another row back. I have a feeling NASCAR is going to be looking at that kind of behavior and have something to say about it. Stay tuned.
Trevor Bayne got himself another good finish. A fluke or are he and Roush Fenway starting to figure something out? Let’s see what happens in the next 2 races. Stenhouse has not been the recipient of whatever they have figured out as he has struggle to top 15 finishes.
In an incredible rookie battle, Erick Jones is just 37 points ahead of Daniel Suarez. Both drivers have really done well this season and will prove to be great new additions to the sport. Ty Dillon is a distant third 179 points behind Jones. Dillon has a lot of talent but he needs to be in a better ride.
Brad Keselowski had an eventful weekend with not finishing well at Bristol and announcing before the race that he was going to be shutting down his truck team at the end of 2017. It’s another blow to the truck series but Special K was losing a reported $1 million a year on his team. That’s a lot of money. Roger Penske has been counseling Special K and told him that he needs a real revenue stream to help offset those losses. Look for Keselowski New & Used Cars in a city near you. Once Special K figures out how to make money, he plans on coming back and running his own Cup team. That way, he can really lose some serious money.
With just two races left before the playoffs, Joey Logano needs to win. He will not make it in on points and to top it off, he has been struggling as of late. He started 8th and finished 13th at Bristol. While not terrible, he squandered a top 10 starting position and failed to make anything of it. It will be interesting to see if the team can turn it around and win again in 2017 even if they miss the playoffs.
Now onto Darlington where we should see another great race.