On Saturday, August 25, 2012, the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers raced in the IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway. To combat sagging attendance and fan complaints, the track had been repaved in an effort to return the racing to the former style. Instead of featuring multiple grooves, now the track was restored to feature just one groove. Though some had been skeptical, it turned out that the track provided a great race for fans and drivers.
By the end of the exciting race, it was Denny Hamlin who took the victory and moved up in the points standings. Though he did not yet clinch a spot in the Chase for the Cup, he is getting closer. Unfortunately, Ryan Newman, who was in a position to get a wildcard slot, crashed and didn't get a good finish. Juan Pablo Montoya had appeared to hit Newman, but apparently Newman's tire had already been going down when he was hit.
The most iconic moment of the night, which symbolizes what Bristol has always been, came when Tony Stewart threw his helmet at Matt Kenseth. Stewart and Kenseth had been battling for the lead when the two crashed. Neither of the drivers recovered for a good finish.
They weren't the only drivers to crash, however. After a great finish in the Nationwide race, Danica Patrick was trying her hand at the Sprint Cup race. Unfortunately, the driver wound up being bumped by Regan Smith and she hit the wall which ended her night too early.
Currently three drivers have clinched their spots in the Chase for the Cup. Greg Biffle, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. will all be racing for the championship. Kasey Kahne is looking like a pretty solid lock for the wildcard slot, but things can change and he has not officially clinched the spot yet. For a few races it had been Ryan Newman who was looking to take the second wildcard slot, but with his wreck at Bristol, he is no longer in the second spot. There are still several drivers who may or may not be able to make the Chase and there are still two more races left in the season.
The Chase for the Cup is always a tough part of the season, but it always seems that the races leading up to the Chase are the hardest run races of the season. The race at Bristol was no exception. Hopefully, the momentum will continue in the final two races before the Chase begins. It is looking like this will be a great Chase for the Cup and it should be one that will keep fans tuning in for more.
Kristin Watt has been a NASCAR Winston Cup, now Sprint Cup, fan for as long as she can remember starting way back when she was a little girl and her mother would sit on the couch with her every Sunday during the season to watch the races. Back then, they were fans of Bill Elliott and newcomer Davey Allison.