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Saturday, August 23
Bristol Motor Speedway
Edwards Gets the Win With Classic "Bump and Run" Move on Busch
By Reid Spencer, Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service
BRISTOL, Tenn. (August 23, 2008) - If NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing needs a rivalry, look no farther than Bristol Motor Speedway.
Carl Edwards suggested after Saturday night’s Sharpie 500 that a rivalry with series points leader Kyle Busch might have been born at the .533-mile short track.
“They keep talking about rivalries -- we might have one now,” Edwards said after beating Busch to the finish line by 1.969 seconds. He led the final 31 laps after executing a skillful bump-and-run to pass Busch through Turns 1 and 2 on Lap 470. From that point, Edwards pulled away for his second consecutive victory.
“That was one of those deals where I couldn’t get by him,” said Edwards, who combined with Busch to lead 499 of the 500 laps. “I had to ask myself, ‘Would he do that to me?’ And he has before, and that’s the way it goes.
“I just kind of ran into him. That’s what happened ... I have a lot of respect for the guy, and he was real fast, but we can’t give up points when they’re right there for us to take.”
Denny Hamlin ran third, followed by Kevin Harvick and Jeff Gordon, as all three drivers posted much-needed top-five finishes to solidify their positions in the top 12 in the points standings with two races left before the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field is set Sept. 6 at Richmond.
With the win, his sixth of the season and the 13th of his career, Edwards secured a position in the Chase and trimmed Busch’s bonus points margin to 30. Unhappy with the way Edwards passed him for the lead, Busch bumped Edwards’ No. 99 Ford after the checkered flag.
Edwards bumped back, and Busch’s No. 18 Toyota went spinning. To make matters worse, NASCAR summoned Busch to the sanctioning body’s transporter after the race. Busch said it made no difference that Edwards admitted bumping Busch to win the race.
“No, because he does that, and he’ll always come back and say he’s sorry,” said Busch, who finished second to Edwards for the second straight race. “He did it at Milwaukee (in the NASCAR Nationwide Series), and he’s done it a few other times. It’s just his normal fashion. That’s fine. I’ve grown to know that.
The top three finishers - Edwards (99), Busch (18) and Hamlin (11) race for position in the closing laps of the Sharpie 500...
“I tried to get him back, but I thought better of it and tried to pull down and pass him back. But I didn’t have a good enough car to stick, and Denny got to his outside, and he got by me, and then I had to battle with him (Hamlin) toward the end.”
On Lap 216, contact between the No. 5 Chevrolet of Casey Mears and the No. 55 Toyota of Michael Waltrip -- an accident Mears blamed on misinformation from his spotter -- ignited a multicar wreck in Turn 1 that had significant implications for the Chase.
Running at the front of a large pack of cars, Mears moved up the track near the entrance to Turn 1 after being cleared by his spotter, clipped the nose of Waltrip’s car and slammed into the outside wall. Unable to avoid the wreck, Clint Bowyer hit Waltrip with the right front of his Chevrolet but was able to continue. Bowyer rallied to finish seventh and move back into the top 12, 12 points ahead of 13th-place David Ragan, who finished 10th after starting 43rd in a backup car.
Kasey Kahne wasn’t as lucky (pictured above). Unable to dodge the melee in front of him, Kahne plowed into the middle of the wreck and ultimately retired from the race after attempts to repair his No. 9 Dodge proved fruitless.
“I like my spotter -- he’s a good guy -- but, man, this is ridiculous,” said Mears, who earlier in the day announced he had agreed to drive a fourth car for Richard Childress Racing next year.
“We took a bunch of cars out for no reason. I was just running along, heard, ‘Clear, clear, clear,’ and went up -- and there was someone still there. We just took out a bunch of cars for no reason -- and ourselves.”
The wreck did considerable damage to Kahne’s Chase hopes, dropping him out of the top 12. Kahne fell three spots to 14th and trails Bowyer by 56 points.
“We had a good racecar, and it’s a shame we got caught up in that mess,” said Kahne, who finished 40th. “I just saw cars wrecking in front of me, and there was nothing I could do.”
Notes: Dale Earnhardt Jr. lost a lap early because of a penalty for jumping the start of the race. He never regained the lap and finished 18th but passed teammate Jimmie Johnson for third place in the standings. Johnson tore the right front of his car after contact on Lap 26 with the Chevrolet of Sterling Marlin and finished 33rd, 18 laps down. … Edwards and Busch have run 1-2 in five races this season, with Busch finishing first at Darlington, Dover and Daytona (in July).
Complete Race Results click here
Pist-Race Point Standings click here
Race Recap - Video Slideshow click here
The Race: Sharpie 500
The Place: Bristol Motor Speedway
The Track: 0.533-mile oval
The Distance: 266.5 miles/500 laps
TV: ESPN & TSN, pre-race at 8 p.m. (AT)
Radio: PRN, SIRIUS Satellite.
2007 Winner: Carl Edwards
2007 Polesitter: Kasey Kahne
Pre-Race Schedule: Friday— Practice, noon-1:30 p.m. Qualifying, 3:40 p.m. Final Practice, 6:15-7:20 p.m. (local track time)
Year-To-Date Race Results & Driver Point Standings click here
Broadcast Times - AT*
Practice: Friday, Aug 22 (SPEED at 1 p.m.)
Qualifying: Friday, Aug 22 (SPEED at 4:30 p.m.)
Final Practice: Friday, Aug 22 (SPEED at 7 p.m.)
RaceDay: Saturday, Aug 23 (SPEED at 6 p.m.)
Pre-Race: Saturday, Aug 23 (ESPN at 8 p.m.)
Race: Saturday, Aug 23 (ESPN & TSN at 9 p.m.)
*AT is one hour ahead of ET, i.e. if it's 2 p.m./AT - it's 1 p.m./ET...
Qualifying Notes & Starting Lineup
Carl Edwards won the Pole Award for the Sharpie 500 with a lap of 15.746 seconds, 121.860 mph.
Starting Lineup click here
- This is his fourth pole in 145 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races.
- This is his first pole and 12th top-10 start in 2008.
- This is his first pole in nine races at Bristol Motor Speedway.
- David Reutimann (second) posted his third top-10 start of 2008 and his first in two races at Bristol.
- Jeff Gordon (third) posted his 26th top-10 start at Bristol. It is his 16th in 24 races this season.
- Regan Smith (fourth) was the fastest qualifying rookie.
- Kyle Petty (29th) qualified for his 50th series race at Bristol - more than any other active driver.
- Drivers that failed to qualify include: Jeff Green, Patrick Carpentier and Johnny Sauter.
- Edwards To Test Winning Momentum On Bristol’s High Banks...Carl Edwards (No. 99 Office Depot Ford) is on a hot streak, perhaps the perfect set-up for a hot August night in Bristol, Tenn.
Saturday’s Sharpie 500 — the 30th anniversary of such an event at Bristol Motor Speedway — is known simply as “the night race,” where fenders bang, nerves fray and results are crucial to those drivers vying for a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
This weekend’s action — Week 8 of the Race to the Chase, the 10-race stretch that precedes the Chase — promises to be as pivotal as ever.
Currently the series’ hottest driver, Edwards has won two of the last three races, including last weekend’s event at Michigan International Speedway. He’s also the defending champion of Saturday’s Sharpie 500 and sits second in the series standings behind leader Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M’s Toyota).
More importantly, Edwards also ranks second to Busch in Chase bonus points.
Drivers get 10 bonus points for each win in the first 26 races, and Chase seeding is done according to bonus-point totals. A total of 30 bonus points — and three races — remain until the 2008 Chase begins Sept. 14 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Busch’s series-high eight victories gives him the lead with 80 Chase bonus points. Edwards is second with five wins and 40 bonus points (his team lost 10 bonus points due to a post-race inspection infraction at Las Vegas earlier this season).
- Four Drivers Could Clinch Chase Berths At Bristol...Heading into Saturday’s Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, only one driver — standings leader Kyle Busch — has clinched a berth in the 2008 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
He did so last weekend at Michigan, also ensuring his position as the top seed with a series-high eight wins and the accompanying 10 bonus points per victory.
Others, however, may join him this week.
Four drivers can clinch Chase spots following Saturday night’s race, depending on their finishes or those of other contending drivers.
Second-place Carl Edwards leads the list. He can lose 108 points to 13th-place Clint Bowyer (No. 07 Jack Daniel’s Chevrolet) and 14th-place David Ragan (No. 6 AAA Insurance Ford), who are tied for 13th (Bowyer earns the tiebreaker with one win this season to Ragan’s none).
But regardless of what Bowyer and Ragan do, Edwards clinches if he finishes 25th or better, finishes 27th and leads at least one lap or finishes 30th and leads the most laps.
Third-place Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet) can lose 27 points to Bowyer and Ragan and still clinch. He also clinches if he finishes second or better Saturday night, finishes third and leads at least one lap or finishes fifth and leads the most laps.
Fourth-place Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet) can lose 16 points to the Bowyer/Ragan duo and clinch. But Earnhardt will clinch regardless if he wins Saturday night and leads the most laps.
Fifth-place Jeff Burton (No. 31 AT&T Mobility Chevrolet) can lose 20 points to Bowyer and Ragan and clinch. He’ll also clinch if he wins and leads the most laps, regardless of their performances.
- On The Bubble: Battle For Final Chase Spots Tightens...Last week’s action at Michigan International Speedway acted like a cement mixer for drivers in positions six through 12 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings.
With only three events remaining until the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup begins Sept. 14 at New Hampshire, points-jockeying is in full swing.
While the top five positions remained unchanged, seven others changed, some to dizzying highs and lows.
Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Toyota) and Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Budweiser Dodge) each dropped three positions thanks to DNFs (did not finish) at Michigan.
Gordon fell to ninth, Hamlin to 12th and Kahne to 11th.
Conversely, Greg Biffle and Kevin Harvick each jumped three spots thanks to top-10 Michigan finishes — Biffle to seventh and Harvick to eighth.
Matt Kenseth, who finished fifth, jumped two spots to 10th.
Nearly lost in all that movement was Tony Stewart’s quiet move to sixth, a one-spot improvement.
Intrigue also thickened just below the 12th-place cutoff for the Chase.
Clint Bowyer, a 2007 Chase participant, is 13th, followed by David Ragan in 14th.
Both drivers have identical point totals — Bowyer wins the tiebreaker, thus the 13th spot — and both trail the 12th-place Hamlin by only 26 points.
Just below is Michigan pole winner Brian Vickers (No. 83 Team Red Bull Toyota), who jumped two spots to 15th thanks to last Sunday’s seventh-place finish. He trails Bowyer and Ragan by 140 points and Hamlin by 166.
Ragan, a second-year driver for Roush Fenway Racing, and Vickers, the 2003 NASCAR Nationwide Series champion in his second year with Team Red Bull, are vying for their first Chase berths.
The bottom line?
Only 82 points separate the ninth-place Gordon from the 14th-place Ragan.
- The Night Race: A 30th Anniversary Celebration...Renowned to many fans as the toughest NASCAR Sprint Cup Series ticket, this weekend’s Sharpie 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway marks a special milestone
It’s the 30th time drivers will gather for the Saturday night race in August, an event that’s earned a place in the sport’s lore.
The first took place in August 1978, an event won by former series champion Cale Yarborough.
Forty-three drivers fighting for space on Bristol’s high-banked, half-mile usually guarantees fireworks and standings shifts.
Not surprisingly, Saturday night marks the 53rd consecutive sellout for Bristol, a venue that seats over 160,000.”
In that setting, Saturday’s crowd will attempt another historical footnote: A representative for the Guinness Book of World Records will be there to document what organizers say will be the largest fan wave in sports history.
Nestled in the mountains of the most northeastern corner of Tennessee, Bristol draws heavily from neighboring North Carolina and Virginia.
It hosted its first NASCAR Sprint Cup races in 1961 and its record books are dotted with stock-car racing’s biggest names.
Yarborough leads all drivers with nine poles at Bristol. Another former series champion, Tennessee resident Darrell Waltrip, leads all drivers with 12 victories there.
“The King” — seven-time series champion Richard Petty who celebrated his 50th anniversary in NASCAR last month — also reigns at Bristol. He leads all drivers with 26 top fives and 37 top 10s.
- Busch Brothers At Bristol: They’re Pretty Good There, An Understatement...Both Kyle Busch and Kurt Busch (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge) have excelled on the high-banked half mile. Kyle Busch won the March 2007 event, while Kurt and Jeff Gordon lead all active drivers with five wins each at Bristol.
“I learned from the very first race that you have to be around at the finish to do well at Bristol,” said Kurt Busch, who started 39th and finished 42nd in March 2001. “It really is a situation of surviving the first 400 laps – keeping the fenders on the thing and staying out of the wall. Then, if you’re in good shape after four-fifths of the race, it’s time to really get down to business during the final 100 laps.”
Kyle Busch has one win, two top fives and four top 10s in seven career starts at Bristol.
Kurt Busch has five wins, one pole, five top fives and nine top 10s in 15 career starts there.
Gordon has five wins, five poles, 12 top fives and 18 top 10s in 31 career starts there.
- Milestones...David Gilliland (No. 38 Yates Racing Ford) will make his 75th career start at Bristol. Kyle Petty (No. 45 Wells Fargo Dodge) could make his 50th career Bristol start Saturday, the most among active drivers.
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