Martin Truex Jr. said it best, that the Bristol night race is like a “boxing match in an elevator.” He sure had this raced pegged as Saturday’s show was craziness on concrete. Was there a full moon out?
To be honest, you had to know this was going to be a wild one, with different teams employing differing strategies, in part to deal with a congested pit road. Of course, that didn’t do any favors for the guy yours truly had pegged to win the race, defending champion Brad Keselowski, who has his work cut out for him if he’s going to make the Chase. Have we ever had a defending champ miss the Chase the following season? Certainly not in recent memory. (Below- Josie, one of regular readers, points out it last happened in 2006, when tony Stewart missed it.)
Another contender who really took a hit was Kurt Busch. Here’s another driver many had tabbed to contend for a win. Unfortunately, the car itself has issues, a lousy time for that with the 2004 champ being courted by Stewart-Haas Racing. The good news for the ‘78’ team is Kurt also does well at Atlanta.
It just wasn’t a good night to be up front. Clint Bowyer got tagged while he was in the lead, Carl Edwards’ engine gave up, Bobby Labonte has having a decent run before he got caught up in trouble, and there were scores of drivers serving penalties. Martin Truex Jr.’s hopes took a hit, and Jeff Gordon just couldn’t land that elusive- and much needed win.
Oddly enough, one of those drivers penalized was Matt Kenseth. Somehow he slipped through all the mayhem to take the lead late, holding off Kasey Kahne for the win. That was one heck of a battle in the closing laps, and everyone watching had to wonder if Kahne might not lay a bumper on Kenseth. To his credit, he held off.
Kasey has it right; he could have, a lot of people wouldn’t have blamed him, but the move could have proved counterproductive. Like he said, mashing Kenseth could have wrecked them both. As it stands now, Kahne is to the good of 10th in the standings, and there’s some good tracks for himself coming up. If nothing else, it just shows Kasey Kahne is a better man the most out there- including me. I admit I would have been tempted. He lives to fight another day, and wisely keeps the big picture in mind.
What a race. It maybe wasn’t a true instant classic, but it will sure have us all taking for a while.