How the race was won
Busch Jimmie Johnson's late problems backed up some cars, including then-leader Denny Hamlin, which allowed Kyle Busch to take the lead. Hamlin's No. 11 also would encounter late problems, knocking him out of contention before a green-white-checkered finish. Busch restarted first on older tires, while Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton had fresh rubber. And those two charged forward, but Burton's last-turn run on Busch fell just short.
Story of the race
Something about some sort of new car making its debut. Anyone hear anything about that?
Give 'em credit
Kyle Busch. Finally stayed clean and sealed the deal.
Jeff Gordon and the 24 team. These guys were pretty bad after starting from the pole, but they worked their way back from the verge of going a lap down to finish third. It seems Gordon and crew chief Steve Letarte collected some good notes on the Car of Tomorrow at Bristol – and they took over the points lead.
Burton and Richard Childress Racing (it seems RCR is here every week, doesn't it?). Kevin Harvick finished fourth and Clint Bowyer was eighth. Maybe Robert Yates needs to steal some people from Childress' rejuvenated shop.
It seems Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the No. 8 team have stabilized after a rough start.
Drivers and teams in general. The COT's debut at Bristol – unknown car and tough track – had the potential to be a brutal wreck-fest. This one wasn't, and a perceived increased level of politeness among the drivers had something to do with it.
Carl Edwards. He continues to prove he remembers how to do the backflip in the Busch Series, but as for Cup …
What were they thinking?
Dale Jarrett or Matt Kenseth. Either Kenseth is responsible for wrecking DJ, thus justifying Jarrett's harsh words postrace, or Kenseth had the spot and DJ simply came down. If it's the latter, sure, Kenseth could have given DJ a little bit of room there. Not a gentlemanly move, but certainly not the awful, reckless maneuver Jarrett made it out to be.
A handful of spotters. How many times did a driver simply come down the track into another driver who had a run? If you want to argue that the drivers on the lower lines should have backed off (like Kenseth failed to do for Jarrett), well, that's not necessarily a bad argument, either.
Juan Pablo Montoya. Really, he just made a mistake in getting too low and shooting back up into David Ragan, but it does show that maybe mastering Bristol wasn't quite as easy as Montoya said it was postrace.
Better luck next time
Stewart Tony Stewart. And Hamlin. Tough to swallow those results (though Hamlin salvaged a not-too-horrible 14th-place finish). Hamlin did get, well, let's say hosed when Stewart was forced to check up to avoid Johnson's slowing car, but that ended up being academic, as Hamlin's No. 11 couldn't quite go the distance at full strength. Stewart, meanwhile, was set to run away with this one, but his car had other ideas.
Scott Riggs (running top-five before hitting wall). And Elliott Sadler (running top-three before wheel issues). And Kasey Kahne (running top-five and top-10 before losing it). Rough day for Evernham overall.
All those bit by Bristol and/or the COT, including Jarrett. He had the potential to turn in a decent performance for Toyota, which did pretty well on Friday, for a change.
By the way …
The Car of Tomorrow's debut could have been much worse, but it also left a bit to be desired from the perspectives of many drivers and crew chiefs. The key will be adjustments. Will the drivers learn to better muscle the car around the track? Will the crew chiefs and teams be able to figure out which common adjustments will have what effects rather than taking shots in the dark? And will NASCAR work with the teams on tweaking the car so it becomes a bit easier to drive and set up? If all that happens, this car will be fine. But if not …
Did Fox's Mike Joy actually say "Wallmendinger" when Allmendinger hit the wall? Even if he didn't, let's pretend he did. Too funny.
These Kyle Busch-Jeff Burton battles are pretty entertaining.
Grading the race
Once again, does the end justify the means? It was a very exciting finish, though the late cautions also added a level of absurdity. From flag to flag, this really wasn't the most interesting Bristol race. And if not for the COT, it would barely be memorable, save for the dramatic finish. Sometimes high caution and wreck numbers at Bristol make it borderline unwatchable. That wasn't the case Sunday, as both of those numbers were more or less average. Rather, it simply was relative lack of action (and speed) that slowed down this one. Grade: C+
From the source
Kyle Busch : "I'm still not a big fan of these [COTs]. I can't stand to drive them. They suck."
Jeff Burton: "Coming here I said whoever won the race would have done the best job and they deserved to win the race and whoever did bad, it wasn't the Car of Tomorrow's fault. It was the driver and team's fault. That's the way I still feel."