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Last Updated Sunday, Aug 29, 2010 1:46 am, EDT

Irwin Tools Night Race

Status: Final Bristol Motor Speedway

Race Capsule

Bristol Motor Speedway
  • What:

    Race 24 of 36 on Sprint Cup circuit

  • Where:

    Bristol Motor Speedway, Bristol, TN

  • When:

    August 21, 2010 7:43 pm EDT

  • Laps:


  • Track Length:

    0.533 miles

  • Race Length:

    267.00 miles

  • Purse:


Drivers to Watch

Jimmie Johnson Johnson held steady in fifth place but is only six points behind fourth-place Tony Stewart and 294 up on 13th place. Johnson won at Bristol in March and has four top-five finishes and nine top-10 finishes in 17 starts there. He has a three-race streak of top-10 finishes at Bristol -- he also was eighth in this race last year and third in March 2009 -- after finishing out of the top 10 there from March 2007 to August 2008. "We ran so well there in the spring. Even last year, we had a great spring and fall race," Johnson said. "That night race has always been one of my favorites. We look forward to being competitive and hopefully going back to Victory Lane there. It's a great race track; I've always loved watching races there. I'm glad to actually enjoy racing on that track now."
Carl Edwards Edwards was another big mover in the points, gaining three positions to move up to sixth in the standings, 266 points ahead of 13th place. Edwards has two wins (August 2007 and August 2008), three top-five finishes and five top-10s in 12 Bristol starts. He was 16th last August and sixth in March, when he finished in the top 10 for the first time in his last three Bristol races. "The new surface at Bristol is extremely competitive," Edwards said. "Now there are three lines and you can run anywhere on the race track. It used to be everyone was fighting for the bottom of the race track, and now everybody can run side by side. It makes it more competitive in that you just can't get away from somebody. They can always hound you. Your car has to be perfect. You have to qualify well and it is hard to pass. It is a grueling race because there is a lot that can happen. Going into Bristol with a big points cushion allows a driver to be more aggressive there. If not, we have to race smart and conservatively there and get as many points as we can. Bristol is the battle, but the war is the Chase. We need to be in the Chase."
Joey Logano Logano won the first pole of his young Sprint Cup career at Bristol in March, but he finished 27th in the race. "Bristol and I seem to have a love-hate relationship," said Logano. "The Home Depot car is always fast there. But in the three races we've run there, we've run up front or started up front but lost a motor, got the fender bent in and blew a tire."
Tony Stewart Stewart is this week's big riser as he climbed a whopping four positions in the standings in just one race. He is 27 points behind former teammate Denny Hamlin for third place and 300 points ahead of 13th place. Stewart has one win (August 2001), six top-five finishes and eight top-10s in 23 starts at Bristol. He was 33rd last August and second in March -- his first top-five at Bristol since he finished fourth in August 2007. "Bristol is one of those places where you've got to have everything kind of go your way," Stewart said. "If you have one hiccup, it's hard to recover from it. We've only won one race there and we've kind of been all over the board. It's been feast or famine for us. It's like if you have one problem in the first half of the race, it's hard to recover from it. It makes for a very long day. We've had more long days than good days. What you've got to keep in mind is that every time the competition gets closer, it makes it harder and harder to start farther back and pass cars. If you're a half-second faster than the 20 cars in front of you, you're probably going to be able to work your way through. If you're half of a tenth of a second faster, it's a lot harder to make up those spots. With the sport and the competition level going up every week, passing is harder. That's why track position is so important. The thing about Bristol is that, at the end of the day, you still have to have a good-handling race car. You can get good track position, but if you don't have a good car, you're not going to be able to hold onto it."
David Reutimann Reutimann is still looking for his first top-10 at Bristol. His best finish in five starts is 12th. "We've run well there in the Nationwide cars (four top-10 finishes in six races), but we can't seem to catch a break in the Cup cars," said Reutimann. "We just need a little racing luck Saturday night."
Ryan Newman Newman has three top-seven finishes in the last four races at Bristol. "There's no place like Bristol," said Newman. "You can have the best car out there, but everything is completely out of your hands. One minute, you could be running in the lead, and just seconds later you could be wrecked in the corner and out of the race and it would be no fault of your own."
Jamie McMurray McMurray finished eighth in the spring race at Bristol for only his fifth top-10 finish in 15 starts at the track. "I personally really enjoy short-track racing, so I'm looking forward to getting back to that type of racing after a long stretch of bigger tracks," said McMurray. "Bristol is always one of the most exciting races of the season."
Juan Pablo Montoya Montoya has only one top-10 finish in seven starts at Bristol. "We did a Goodyear tire test at Bristol earlier this year that we were pretty happy with," said Montoya. "I actually enjoy racing there. You are up on the wheel all the time."
Martin Truex Jr. Truex is still looking for his first top-10 at Bristol. His best finish is 11th in nine starts at the track. "In 2004, I won my first Nationwide Series race there," said Truex. "I've always enjoyed racing there, especially after they redid the concrete and the banking. It's a lot of fun to race on because you can go two, three wide."
AJ Allmendinger Allmendinger has not finished better than 16th in his six Sprint Cup starts at Bristol. "You've got to be ready for anything at Bristol, and that's what keeps the drivers, crew members and fans all on the edge of their seats the whole time," said Allmendinger. "There's no down time during that race."
Kasey Kahne Kahne has only three top-10 finishes in 13 starts at Bristol, but one of them was a second in the 2007 night race when he led 305 of the 500 laps. Kahne said the key to running well at Bristol is "staying out of trouble -- I've gotten involved in accidents running in the back and I've gotten into accidents while running in the top 10."
Paul Menard Like his teammate, A.J. Allmendinger, Menard has never finished better than 16th in his six starts at Bristol. Menard calls Bristol "a survival race. It's so easy to get caught up in somebody else's mistake, and it happens all the time. On top of that, tempers flare up pretty easily at a short track like Bristol."
Mark Martin Martin has two wins, 16 top-five finishes and 23 top-10s in 43 starts at Bristol. "Bristol is a tough one because you can't count on anything," said Martin. "This team witnessed that first hand when we were there in March. We had an awesome race car, possibly the best one we've had all season. We had a chance to win that race and lost it all when we were pushed into the wall by another car (as he finished 35th)."
Matt Kenseth Kenseth gained a position and is up to ninth in the standings, 14 points behind Kyle Busch and 241 up on 13th place. Kenseth has won twice at Bristol (August 2005 and 2006) and has eight top-five and 13 top-10 finishes in 21 starts there. He has four top-10 finishes in his last five starts at the track, including 10th last August and fifth in March. "We've had a lot of success at Bristol over the years," Kenseth said. "Being a concrete, high-banked track that is so small really makes Bristol stand out from other tracks on the circuit. Bristol feels like the seats are on top of you, and the great fan atmosphere really makes it an exciting place to race. It has changed a lot since they reconfigured the track surface a few years ago although it's still fast and small -- stuff definitely happens in a hurry. Qualifying is very important at Bristol since track position and pit position can really make or break your race sometimes."
Jeff Burton Burton tumbled three positions in the standings to seventh and 28 points behind sixth-place Carl Edwards and 266 points ahead of the Chase cutoff. Burton has one win (March 2008), eight top-five finishes and 14 top-10s in 33 Bristol starts. He was 18th in this race last year and 10th in March. He has five top-10 finishes in his last eight Bristol starts. "I think we are really good at short tracks," Burton said. "Sometimes, our finishes don't indicate how good we ran. I think the short tracks are the strength of our deal. We led a lot at Martinsville, we were very, very fast at Phoenix, and we ran really well at Bristol in March. We were also really fast at New Hampshire and led a lot of laps, so I think our short-track program has been pretty solid. We're going to have to move it forward as we go into the last third of the year, but I feel like we're solid there. The spoiler thing is really interesting to me. I talk to some people who think it has changed stuff, and I talk to others and they say it hasn't. I know that this is going to sound stupid to y'all, but I haven't really paid much attention to how the spoiler has affected it. I've just tried to pay attention to how the car needs to be better and how I need to drive it better. I think that potentially Bristol is a track, like we talked about Phoenix, having less impact than it would when we went to Texas. I think Bristol is similar to that. I think it is small enough where aerodynamics matter, but it is not going to matter as much."
Denny Hamlin Hamlin moved up three positions in the standings to third, just 60 points behind second-place Jeff Gordon, and is a healthy 327 points ahead of 13th place. Hamlin has never won at Bristol and has three top-five and five top-10 finishes in nine starts. He was 19th there in March, breaking a string of four straight top-10 finishes at Bristol, including three straight top-fives. He was fifth last August. "It's a spectator race that most people try not to miss," Hamlin said. "It's just always the one race that when people ask, 'I want to go to a race, which one should I go to?' Everyone always says the Bristol night race. The excitement level is so high there, the cars can't get away from each other, it's just a half-mile race track and there's always something going on at every turn at that track. The thing for us over the last four years, and really since the Chase format -- the Bristol night race has always been a little bit tamer than what it had in years past because everyone's kind of points racing. There's a lot of people always on the bubble, and that's a make-or-break race for them as far as making the Chase or not. Really, you don't see as many incidents there as what you used to, especially since they changed the surface. Really, for me, the better cars usually run up front at Bristol, and the ones you see succeed there over the last few years continue to succeed once they get to the night race. It's just so hard to continue to hit that mark at Bristol. Obviously, there are so many turns and so little time to rest in between, your focus tends to kind of go away at times. You miss a lap and it seems like it takes you three or four laps to get back in that rhythm again of getting the most out of the race car at any given time. That's the most challenging track as far as getting in a rhythm is concerned because there's just no rest time. You try to qualify as good as you can at that race track to avoid that situation because it can happen. I've qualified 40th there and been looking up at the leader 20 or 30 laps into the race and having a sense of urgency. Being a 500-lap race, you do have time, if you do go a lap down. We have so many new rules now that give laps back that you really don't get too concerned. Not as much as you used to. It is a balance, but ever since that surface change and there's been multiple grooves there, passing has been a little bit easier. You really haven't had to root and gouge your way. You haven't seen the wrecks right in front of the leader as I think you have in years past."
Kyle Busch Busch dropped a spot in the standings, to eighth place, but is only 11 points behind seventh and still has a 255-point cushion over 13th place. Busch has an excellent record at Bristol: three wins (March 2007 and both races last year), five top-five finishes and eight top-10s in 11 starts. His ninth-place finish in March extended his streak of top-10s at Bristol to four, the previous three being top-fives, and he has eight top-10s, including five top-fives, in his last nine starts. "I always look forward to going there," Busch said. "I struggled there in the spring, for some reason. All of JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) did. We all blew right-front tires out, we all got in the fence, but we salvaged a decent day. ... Your driving style has had to change at Bristol a lot. Bristol used to be a track where you could charge the corners a little bit and get it right in and down to the bottom of the track. You kind of would go through the middle of the corner and then slingshot out on the exits. And now it's just so smooth that you're easy in, you're kind of easy through the center, and easy off. The track is a little slower than I think it was because they reduced some banking in order to put sort of the progressive banking into it to make the outside groove better for the fans. Bristol Motor Speedway is one of the best race tracks on the circuit. All the fans love it because of the excitement, the run-ins and the close-quarter action with all the cars being packed on top of one another at a half-mile racetrack with us 43 lunatics running around in a tight circle. With the fans, the atmosphere there always makes for a good time. We have the SAFER barrier on the outside wall taking up a little bit more racing room up off the corners since they've run the wall further down the straightaway. But it's taking up some racing room and it makes the racing even tighter, and we are probably going to see some more action."
Kurt Busch Busch dropped an astounding six positions in the standings in one week and finds himself bringing up the rear of the top 10. He is 26 points behind ninth and 215 ahead of 13th-place Mark Martin with three races left before the Chase begins. Another astounding statistic: Busch has won at Bristol five times -- the March races in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2006 and the August event in 2003. That makes up the bulk of his six top-five and 11 top-10 finishes in 19 starts there. He was seventh last August and third in March. "All you have to do is go back and look at my first Cup race at Bristol back in 2001," Busch said. "It wasn't pretty. As a matter of fact, it was downright ugly. The first time I crashed that day, it was on my own. The second time I wrecked, I was in a big pileup. I guess you could say that the third time was the charm, in that we punctured the radiator in that crash."
Greg Biffle Biffle has finished fourth in the last two races at Bristol and has led 154 laps. "Bristol is so intense," said Biffle. "You can't relax at all. It's like walking a tightrope for 500 miles and holding your breath the whole time. No other track is like that. It obviously takes a good race car to win at Bristol, but it helps to qualify well." Biffle is still looking for his first victory at the track.
Clint Bowyer Bowyer has four top-10 finishes in nine starts at Bristol. "I like the track because, like most drivers, it reminds me of my short-track racing roots," said Bowyer. "I think Bristol is definitely one of those (wild card) races, but any of these races anymore are wild cards. You have to be able to get all through the whole race (without problems)."
Jeff Gordon Gordon is virtually assured a spot in the Chase -- he has a 387-point lead over teammate Mark Martin, in 13th place -- but has yet to mathematically clinch a spot. Gordon is a five-time Bristol winner (spring races in 1995, '96, '97 and '98, August night race in 2002) and has 14 top-five and 20 top-10 finishes in 35 starts. He was 23rd in this race last August and 14th in May, but in the two previous races he was fifth in August 2008 and fourth in March 2009. "Bristol has been tough for us," Gordon said. "We've struggled there ever since they changed the track. I just feel like I had a knack for that place -- a groove and a feel and a setup that the cars really worked well for us. Ever since they changed the track, none of that seems to work. It is about re-inventing yourself as a driver, from myself trying to find a different groove that works as well as giving good feedback to the team to get the car to work the way we need it to. We feel like we get a little bit better each time we go there. (To hit your marks) there is visual, and then there is just timing of getting out of the throttle and getting on the brakes and then as you feed the wheel and you get down the straightaway, you just want to turn off into the corner at the right time and aim the car for certain spots on the track. Sometimes what happens, you hit on it and it does everything you want it to and then it is about doing it consistently. Bristol is the type of track where you get into a rhythm there because the straightaways are so short and it is such a quick lap time that you find yourself, if you get it right, it can be really fun. But, if you keep missing it lap after lap, it can be very, very frustrating."
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Earnhardt will be seeking his third straight top-10 finish and seventh in the last nine races at Bristol. "Bristol is one of the best places to see a race," said Earnhardt. "Everybody's sitting right on top of the race track. There's nothing else to compare to Saturday night racing at Bristol."
Kevin Harvick Harvick's points advantage has swelled to 293, and his 680-point lead over 13th-place Mark Martin has made him the first driver to clinch a position in the Chase. Harvick takes a record of one victory (March 2005), nine top-five finishes and 11 top-10s in 19 starts going into Saturday night's race at Bristol. He was 38th in this race last year and 11th in March. "Bristol is a lot like Watkins Glen -- you never know what's going to happen," Harvick said. "You could get caught up in someone else's mess before you even know what happened. I'm glad we're not in that position. You can go there and be really aggressive and take chances that you wouldn't normally take if you were in Clint's (Bowyer) position. (In that situation), you have to race hard, but you have to race with one eye over your shoulder to see what's going on around you and behind you and try not to make any mistakes. For us, you can just go there and if you tear something up, you tear something up. You put it in the trailer and go to the house. Things still happen fast, but you can race all over the race track now. There's a lot less cautions. There's a lot less beating and banging because the corners are so sweeping that you need to have the fenders on the car now, or you become just like any other race track, and the dreaded areo-push takes over. You have to take care of your car in order to be up front. The night atmosphere is great. It always seems to bring a little more enthusiasm to the driver, the fans and everybody around. It's a cool place to race."
David Ragan Ragan has only one top-10 finish in seven starts at Bristol. "Short tracks are my favorite and the night race at Bristol ranks right up there at the top," said Ragan. "Saturday night is going to be a lot of fun. We had a great race going for us in the spring but got caught up in a wreck."
Elliott Sadler Sadler won his Cup race at Bristol while driving for the Wood Brothers in the spring of 2001. "We've got some momentum on our side after last weekend's race and Todd Parrott (his new crew chief) and I are really communicating well, so I've got some pretty high expectations for this weekend," Sadler said.