Monday, August 25, 2008

Delayed live on type delay: Bristol

This post is late. We tried to get it published Saturday night and Sunday morning, but had no web access available. Hopefully it still has some relevance, or will be useful to those who missed the race, or just want to read about the race as viewed through The Rev's senses. Hopefully this won't happen again. There is something about Bristol that has us bouncing in anticipation of the race all day long. Saturday has been a long day waiting for the green flag. While we were waiting, we had that wonderful rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" performed by the Motorsports Racing Outreach children, something we always look forward to in the late Summer race at Bristol. Also, a new world record was broken for the biggest wave in sports. That was actually pretty exciting to watch, and seemed fitting for Bristol Motor Speedway.

Because the AM station that carries Performance Radio Network play-by-play here cuts power early on Saturday, we are unable to enhance this post with information from the radio broadcast. We are stuck with what we see or hear on television, but we will try to put you at the race the best we can.

The green flag already produced some action, as Dale Earnhardt, Jr was black flagged for passing before the start finish line. One thing we like about Jr is that he is always learning, and now he has learned that you can't do that at the start of the race.

Pole winner Carl Edwards takes the lead early, but Jeff Gordon is on a mission, as we predicted, and after thirty laps, he has gained position from third to second, and is gaining on Carl Edwards. Jimmie Johnson, however, is having terrible luck and has been to the pits twice, under green flag, and is thirteen laps down.

Already, cars are being lapped. We are seeing the kind of racing we expect from Bristol, and some of these cars already have tire donuts on their door panels.

By lap 45, Gordon and Edwards are racing hard. Gordon did lead a lap, but neither driver has been able to take a definitive lead, because Juan Pablo Montoya is racing them to stay on the lead lap. Kyle Busch, in third has caught up with them by lap 54. He takes advantage of a bump on JPM by Edwards, and passes all three cars, taking the lead. That really did look like a brilliant move. Gordon, showing a little more patience than Edwards, remains behind Montoya, and takes second place.

At lap seventy, it has been flag racing so far, and Kyle is in first, Jeff Gordon in second, Carl Edwards is third Rookie Regan Smith, Ryan Newman, and David Reutimann have been racing each other for fourth and fifth place, and by lap 80, Newman gets fourth and the 01 DEI car of Smith has taken fifth. Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart have been steadily moving forward. This is a bad place to be in traffic, as we all know, and moving toward the front is a matter of preservation.

I love this three wide at Bristol. It isn't the old Bristol, and this may be for the better. It is exciting to watch, there is a lot of beating and banging going on. Just because they can go three wide doesn't mean that it's a good thing for the drivers to do, but it is good for the fans.

On lap 98, Martin Truex Jr cuts a tire, and collects the unfortunate A.J. Allmendinger. Both cars were running in the top twenty, but this will put a damper on their hopes to gain some big points in this race. The leaders all pit.

We were busy writing and didn't see how they came off of pit road. This is where we are at a disadvantage without the radio broadcast, and we apologize to our regular readers.

At the restart on lap 104, the top five are Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman and Kevin Harvick in that order. Great pit stop for the #29 team. Jeff Burton has moved up into sixth, great job there, and wow, Jr is driving very aggressively to get his lap back. This is the kind of beating and banging we are used to at Bristol, even if it is three wide. He has a fast car, and anybody who is slower, especially Clint Bowyer, who is on the lead lap, better watch out. We have confidence at this point that he may be able to get back on the lead lap this way, if he doesn't get wrecked. Whatever the outcome, Junior is fun to watch. That is why he has always been among my five favorite drivers, among currently active drivers.

Continuing the running order, well, we would like to but it is time for another commercial interuption. Kasey Kahne is in seventh and by lap 132, Smoke has made it up to eighth place. For those who don't know about brake heat, Tim Brewer gives us a techsplanation of why the tire beads melt.

Lap 140 and Smoke is now in seventh, after being slowed a little by Bobby Labonte's lapped Dodge, but he gets around Burton with little problem. I would say Kahne is now in sixth place, but I can't see during the commercial break. We'll just assume that's where he is by now.

We have seen a lot of drivers on various missions so far, and with so many with a mission, it is surprising that the only incident bringing out a caution was the one involving Truex and Allmendinger.

Niw we are seeing that Junior's car isn't all that good. He is getting no traction from the rear wheels, but he is doing what he can, and for Dale Jr, that is a lot. Fans who aren't Dale Jr fans don't realize what this guy can do with what we think of as a "POS" car. We know he is one of the best car control guys in the business.

Stewart says his car is too tight, but still he races and takes sixth from Kasey Kahne. At this point, as the reporters are giving condition run-downs on the top twenty drivers, we wish that ESPN had the video technology TNT demonstrated at the races, because this would be a good race to see the moving camera view. With ESPN we are stuck with either the in car cameras or the stationary cameras around the track.

This is how fast things happen at Bristol. Newman has taken third from Gordon by lap 180, and Stewart has moved into fifth. Jeff Burton has gotten up to sixth. This all happened while the two sentences about video coverage.

Now Newman is challenging Edwards for second, and this is racing through lapped traffic. It looks dangerous, and again, that is Bristol--it is dangerous. To be honest, the commercials make me nervous, because I am certain we are missing something important. We did miss something important, as Jeff Burton ran into problems during the commercial and literally ran into lapped traffic, causing terminal damage to his car. You could say Stewart started a chain reaction, bumping Sterling Marlin to get him out of the way, and I will say, once again, that's typical Bristol. As it happened, the 09 had already been in trouble with the 77, and Stewart had nowhere to go. This was sad for both the 20 and the 31 car who were running so well. Especiall the 31 car which will require extensive repair.

Those who miss the "old Bristol," shouldn't have missed that. We will agree, however, that two cautions in nearly 200 laps is tame for Bristol.

We're just hoping that didn't put an end to Stewart's charge to the front. Kyle Busch comes off the pits retaining the lead, and Edwards maintains second. Again, we are forced to wait for coverage to resume before we can tell you anything else.

Busch restarts first, Newman second, Edwards third, so Newman got to finish what he started before the wreck in the pits. Edwards passes Newman after one lap of green, and Gordon has moved into fourth. Gordon takes third on lap 213. Now, on lap 217 we get the big one.. Kasey Kahne, Sam Hornish, Robby "Hard Luck" Gordon, Casey Mears, Michael Waltrip, and Clint Bowyer, were all involved. Reed Sorenson's car also received damage. It looked like the wreck started with Waltrip getting into Mears, and everybody else was in the wrong place at the wrong time. See? Racing at Bristol hasn't changed that much.

Casey Mears will be going to RCR next season, and has expressed that he is looking forward to the "laid back" atmosphere of Childress' operation. The structured style of HMS is not for him. He blames the accident on his spotter, and seems like he is in a hurry to put his Hendrick career behind him. Mears says that his spotter told him he was clear to his right, and he moved up only to hit the 55 car of Michael Waltrip. He put in a word about this kind of stuff always seems to happen to him. I know this sounds funny now, but it is possible that RCR could do for Mears what JGR has done for Kyle Busch. Just a few thoughts while we are under the red flag.

We are given the opportunity to hear the conversation over Mears' radio and his spotter did tell him he was clear. Then we hear that Mears has amazing self control over his language when he is angry. "Gosh durnit" is the strongest language he used.

Restart on lap 223, Kyle Busch leads. Edwards is second, Jeff Gordon third, Denny Hamlin fourth, and Tony Stewart fifth. Stewart seems to be running well, still and he and Hamlin are both challenging Gordon for third. This is some good racing, thank you ESPN for showing it. Hamlin bumps Gordon to get by him, then Stewart passes under Gordon, his car slides up some and bumps Gordon in the side, taking fourth. Gordon is mad. This is what we wanted to see. Love it! Bristol is definitely back! So is The Gordon. We see revenge on the horizon. We just hope we can keep our optimism and good cheer if Smoke falls victim to Gordon's Revenge. We don't really want it to happen, but it will be big if it does happen. We're still cheering for Smoke, and if Gordon does catch up with Stewart, we could see a pretty good Death Match. Oh yeah, it's 2001 and 2002 all over again!

The guys who have had a lot of patience are getting a good pay-off. Aric Almirola and Jamie McMurray are both running in the top ten. Clint Bowyer actually dodged a bullet on that big one a few laps back and is running eleventh, while Kurt Busch is running tenth. The top five are still Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin. Tony Stewart, and a very purpose and anger driven Jeff "The Gordon" Gordon. Ryan Newman and Kevin Harvick are running in sixth and seventh, or the other way around.

This race isn't pegging the Wow Meter, but the needle is staying up toward the top. Lap 281 and it looks like Dave Blaney, who was running in twelfth got caught behind an incident between two other cars, and lost control trying to evade it, hitting the inside wall head on and hard. Another victim of being in Bristol traffic.

How about that move to the flat infield by Kyle Busch to avoid the wreck. How's that for quick reactions and car control?

Uh-oh, this means that Gordon will be right behind Stewart on the restart. Hang in there Smoke, be prepared for something and try to keep control. Both drivers should have their laser sabres fired up. Okay, Gordon comes off of the pit road in third, and Stewart exits in seventh. I wonder if that might have been special strategy on the part of the 20 team to avoid disaster? Still, Stewart will have to meet The Gordon at some point if he wants to win this race. They could just be staying safe to try to finish the race with their points position intact. Just thinking out loud here.

Kyle Busch's team is flawless, and he maintains the lead. and Edwards will restart in second. This is shaping up to be a Busch-Edwards duel, which should keep the media happy.

Denny Hamlin is fourth, Kevin Harvick is fifth, and Ryan Newman is sixth. Stewart is seventh, as mentioned earlier. Clint Bowyer is eighth, Almirola is ninth, and by lap 332, David Ragan has moved into tenth. Tony Raines and David Reutimann are getting jiggy with it back in the pack, and we are getting our beatin' and bangin' fix courtesy of these two and the ESPN camera crew.

Caution for debris, knocked off of the 44 car during the aforementioned beatin' and bangin'. The leaders all pit. Again the 18 team gets Kyle out of the pits first, and Carl Edwards exits second. Great job by the much maligned 24 team as they keep The Gordon in third. Bowyer comes out in sixth, proving the 07 team is on the ball.

Wild restart behind the leaders, and the positions change before we can give the restart positions. Now Carl is challenging Kyle, and it looks like we have a good race going. Carl almost takes the lead on lap 355, but it doesn't stick. He hasn't given up yet and we are seeing some real racing for the lead. Now Carl gets the outside, and should have an advantage, but still doesn't make it stick. Lap 360, and that race is done for now, as Carl falls in behind Kyle. Good show, guys.

Speaking about a good show, Bowyer has done a great job in a car with a damaged suspension, and is running in seventh. Tony Stewart is in eighth. On lap 365 we get a phantom debris caution, as the NASCAR officials apparently liked what they saw while Busch and Edwards were racing early in the run, and wanted to see it again. Strike that, ESPN reports that a truck did go out onto the track to pick up debris.

None of the leaders took tires and Busch and Edwards are putting on a good show again. This is the best racing all night. Earnhardt, Jr looks like he will get his lap back this time, even if he has to race his way back. His car is now good enough to do that.

Almirola stopped for tires, and has made his way into seventh place, by lap 387. Juan Pablo is still serving his purpose as a traveling chicane and is still making it hard for the lead lap drivers to get around. That's entertainment.

96 laps to go and things have settled down a bit, but it should heat up soon. That is unless Edwards and Gordon have decided that they will just give this race to Kyle. The booth bunnies are talking as if this will turn into a fuel mileage race, but we know this wouldn't happen. There will be more cautions. This is just the calm before the storm, we think.

The anticipation is still building. We are really missing the radio play-by-play to keep us informed during the television ads. We just don't know what to do with ourselves during the commercials.

Kyle Busch has been in danger all night long, and has dodged every bullet. He will deserve the win if he gets it. 63 laps to go, and he may do it.

Almirola looks like an old pro staying in the top ten. Good job for that #8 team.

Okay, this is getting nerve-wracking. This close to the end of the race, shouldn't they be finished with the commercials? I mean, this is a short track. The race could be over by the time they get back to race coverage.

And now, we get another debris caution before fuel mileage comes into play. 49 laps to go and everybody will get fuel, most will get tires and some will only take two tires and fuel. I want to know if Junior got the lucky dog here.

Kyle comes onto the track first, Edwards second, Hamlin third, and Jeff Gordon fourth. We are getting close to shoot-out time here. Let's see something happen. Besides a commercial, I mean. 42 laps to go at the restart. Harvick is fifth, and still in contention. Ryan Newman is doing a great job and is still in sixth, and Bowyer is in seventh, while Stewart is in eighth. Another debris caution.

And no, dagnabbit, Junior still doesn't get back on the lead lap. Busch has lapped a lot of cars every stint.

"We" have changed to "I" as I am officially a nervous wreck. This is going to be one heckuva run after the restart with 33 laps to go.

And here they go. Carl is close on Busch's bumper, Busch is really loose, and Carl takes the lead, and they are beatin,' bangin,' bumpin,' and runnin'. Edwards takes the lead, and Hamlin takes second. And here comes Gordon. The front four are pretty close still, so there should still be some more good racing, as Kyle is working hard to get second back from Hamlin. Kyle finally gets second back with 21 laps to go, passing on the high side, and Harvick moves into fourth, also passing Gordon on the high side. Carl is getting away. 17 to go.

Harvick is about to take third. 4 to go, and it looks like we will see another backflip. Kyle is second, Hamlin third, Harvick is fourth, and Gordon is fifth. After the checkers, we see a demonstration of anger by Kyle as he runs into the 99 car. Carl retaliates, this is fun!. Now the fans are happy, because Kyle will be fined and penalized. Oh boy. Drama after the race. Bristol Rules!!!

Final thoughts:

This race gave us everything we expect from Bristol. It was frustrating for the drivers, fun for the fans. Great stuff. Four out of Five Revvin' Rave points!

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