Nationwide at Bristol

March 19, 2011
by Lee

Crew Members working on pit road during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice at Bristol Motor Speedway --Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Thunder Valley roars to life as the stars of the Nationwide Series take to the “World’s Fastest Half Mile” for 300 laps of competition. There is some controversy for us to talk about as we await the green flag to the start of the Scotts EZ Seed 300. Tires have been an issue at the track this weekend, with a similar site that occurred at the Indianapolis Motor Speed a couple of years ago, tires are being shredded instead of rubbering in the track. Good news though, Goodyear brought in different tires for the Nationwide race, as well as the Sprint Cup race for tomorrow. This means that the drivers practiced on different tires than what they are going to race on. Now that the blender is about to be let loose, it will be interesting to see if we get some longer runs, or if yellow flags and slow speeds will be the story.

The engines have been fired and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the Blackwell Angus Beef car will lead the field to the green flag. Flanking Stenhouse will be Jason Leffler in the second starting position. The cars have barley rolled off pit road and Jennifer Jo Cobb has already taken her car behind the wall. No immediate word on what is wrong with Cobb’s car. A couple of other notable starting spots today include Kyle Busch starting 5th, Dale Earnhardt Jr. starting 11th, and Danica Patrick starting 29th. It would appear Danica was able to find her way to Bristol after earlier this year stating she did not know what state Bristol was in (at least it was something like that, but my recollection may not be exact). Competition caution at lap 25 for tire wear as well.

Green flag comes out and Stenhouse may have jumped the green flag. Stenhouse leads the first lap and the field is clean and clicking off laps about every 15 seconds. Scoring is currently down on, and as well as on the broadcast. Broadcast now has scoring on lap five. Stenhouse has rocketed out a lead of about 15 car lengths.

Ten laps into the race and there is good racing throughout the field. A lot of cars are side by side and battling for positions. Cobb is now being shown on ESPN and is not happy. Cobb states she was told ten minutes before the race that she would start and park the car. She is obviously not happy with that arrangement, and simply pulled the car into the garage area and walked away from driving the car today. A new driver is being put in the car to go on track to turn a lap to allow the car owner to collect the money for being in the race. This is a problem that NASCAR is going to need to eventually address. Today is not the day for me to comment on this, but I will address it my posting next week.

Lap 25 and we get the first caution of the day which is also a competition caution. The drivers have been clean so far with no incidents shown or mentioned on the track. NASCAR has mandated that all drivers must change right side tires on this stop. Stenhouse led them on pit road, but Earnhardt Jr. leads them off pit road.

Earnhardt Jr. takes the green with Busch next to him. Busch now passes Earnhardt Jr. and is in the clear. Stenhouse Jr. looks good as he makes up some spots early in the run and gets back to third. I would like to be able to say where everyone restarted, but with scoring down I do not have a reference point.

Caution comes out on probably lap 60 to 65 or so. Robert Richardson Jr. lost a water or oil hose and spun the car while dropping fluid all over the middle of the track. Trevor Bayne then went directly through the fluid and spun his car into the wall. Busch continues to lead as pit stops will be coming when Richardson’s car is cleaned up and moved off the under yellow pit road area of the track.

Lap 78 and Busch leads the field back to green Stenhouse Jr. along side. Busch jumps out to a five or six car lead as soon as the green is displayed. Various strategies were used under this caution. Maybe half the field stopped for work and tires on the car, while the others stayed out.

Just past 100 laps and Busch continues to lead. Based on the appearance of the track at this point, it looks like Goodyear got the tire right with its second choice. The track is starting to rubber in nicely. This does not mean the drivers like the tires, but the wear seems to better.

Lap 117 and Danica Patrick has now gone a lap down to Busch. Busch continues to click off laps at a torrent pace.

We are now 150 laps into the race and Busch continues to lead. I would give the race statistics here, but still is now showing the standings, but is not showing the statistics for the race. Only 12 cars are on the lead lap at this point of the race. The track has been green for over 75 laps now. Have to start wondering if green flag stops are going to be needed for those cars that did not stop on the last caution.

Lap 167 and Stenhouse is on pit road for a green flag stop. Other leaders who had not stopped should be in soon. Earnhardt Jr. is in for a stop as well. Carl Edwards is now in for service, and his crew is slow on the driver’s side tires. Edwards loses around three extra seconds on pit road. Justin Allgaier now has a right front down and is on pit road. He avoided the wall and this is basically a regularly scheduled stop for him.

The green flag run has now passed 100 laps, and is the longest green flag run in Nationwide Series ever at Bristol Motor Speedway. With saying that, Brad Keselowski loses a right front tire and gets into the wall. Keselowski deserves a five lap penalty for slowing down going along the front stretch. As soon as the caution was out, Keselowski sped up and got in line with the other cars. No doubt he had a problem, but the caution would not have been waved if he would have kept some speed and went into the pits. Caution came out around lap 180.

Here is the worst NASCAR commercial ever; they just showed this on ESPN:

I really thought Charlotte Motor Speedway’s marketing department was better than that.

Green flag is back out on lap 180 and Busch continues to lead the field. Kasey Kahne is now in the runner up position as the field battles. The field is jumbled at this point with some very good and close side by side racing. Carl Edwards is the middle of the mix in the hornet nest. Stenhouse is now penalized for lining up in the wrong spot for the restart. Tough break for Stenhouse, he said on the radio that NASCAR should have told him where to line up.

Lap 200 and Aric Almirola spins off of turn four and slides across the front stretch. No other cars are involved and Almirola does not hit anything. Some new tires and he will be back on his way. Jason Leffler gets the lucky dog on this caution.

Lap 203 and Busch takes off from the field again. If Busch leads 64 more laps from this point, he will have led 10,000 laps in the Nationwide Series. Lap 207 and the caution comes back out for Willie Allen scraping the wall. Allen got loose and hit Keselowski, began to go up the track and then was bumped in the rear by Danica. One of those Bristol type of wrecks, and once again in my opinion I think a caution was kind of suspect and probably not needed.

Lap 214 and the broken record continue to play as Busch jumps back to the lead when the green flies. Point leader in the Nationwide Series Reed Sorenson is out of the race with a sour engine.

Lap 230 and Busch continues to lead with Elliot Sadler in second and Kevin Harvick in third.

Sixth caution is out for Michael Annett. Annett was bumped from behind by Bayne and spun down the track and bumped the wall. Laps are winding down and aggressive racing is picking up.

ESPN misses the restart, but Busch continues to lead. Sixty laps to go now. Earnhardt Jr. was the lucky dog for the caution. Jr. stopped and got four tires and fuel for the car.

Lap 247 and the caution is out for the #7 destroying the front end of the car against the outside wall. Danica has now earned Herdanicaship back for the Nationwide Series. She was going straight on the front stretch and then moved up and bumped Ryan Truex. She then lost control and put it in the wall. In true bitch that Herdanicaship displays from time to time, she gets on the track with arms out as Truex goes by. I have to pin this one on Herdanicaship. Who knows if something happened earlier, but Herdanicaship took herself out of this race. I am sure the post race comments will be entertaining, or even the interview from the infield care center.

TV code shown for the contest today was “qualify”.

Forty four laps to go and the green comes out, but the yellow is out almost immediately again. James Buescher was spun coming off of turn two. Amazingly he did not hit anything.

Herdanicaship now complaining that she felt Truex did not give her any room and came down on the track. I still maintain that Herdanicaship is at fault in this wreck.

Forty laps to go now and the green comes back out with Busch leading.

Busch has now led 10,000+ laps in the Nationwide series. He has series leader for career laps led over Mark Martin.

Twenty five laps to go and Busch continues to lead with Kahne second and Earnhardt Jr. in third.

Ten laps to go and the same leaders are in the same positions.

Call him the King of Bristol at this point, Kyle Busch wins his fourth straight race at Bristol dating back to last year. Busch gets his 45th career Nationwide win, and does it in dominating fashion again. Kahne brings his machine home second, while Earnhardt Jr. takes home third.

Not that exciting of a race from the TV side of things today. It had its moments, and Herdanicaship made it worth the watch. I make the trip up to Bristol for the race tomorrow with my son. Enjoy the race tomorrow, and for something different, let’s hope Rowdy does not put it in victory lane on Sunday.

Tweet of the Race
@jeff_gluck Honestly, given Kyle’s success, the smart thing would be to just start calling it the Busch Series again. #NASCAR

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1 Comment

  • Dave says:

    Hooray, the princess we have been accustomed to in Indycar has finally made her appearance. I didn’t watch the race, but I will comment on a great quote from the crew chief of the driver that Danica blamed. He told his driver not to worry about it, she has never been wrong about anything in her whole life. Priceless. Oh by the way, it was her fault, it is called racing and you hit him. That is all.