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NASCAR Bristol Notebook

Danica Patrick stands on the grid during qualifying.
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Danica Patrick is still learning to put a fast lap down in her GoDaddy.com Chevrolet — she was 21st in qualifying for the Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway — but the Stewart-Haas Racing driver is on pole position in the shoe department.

That’s because Bruton Smith, the 86-year-old CEO of Speedway Motorsports Inc., the company that owns Bristol, has given Patrick another new and very nice new pair of shoes.

“Bruton has given me now two pairs of shoes, which is now one more than Ricky (Stenhouse, Jr.),” Patrick said Friday at Bristol. “They were Jimmy Choo’s this time and they are very fancy, very dressy. I haven’t found the right occasion for them. I thought I was going to wear them during the ESPY’s but it didn’t match my dress right. I will find a home for them I promise you that.”

Patrick said the high-end gifts from her would-be shoe Sugar Daddy are much appreciated. “The first ones were Y. Jaiselle’s,” said Patrick. “Yeah, they were very comfortable and I have worn them lots. Sometimes it’s just good to be a girl.”

TRIPLE THREAT — Kyle Busch won Wednesday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race and hopes to score a three-race sweep this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway, something that’s only been done once before in NASCAR history: by Busch here in 2010.

For most of Friday, Busch was unhappy with how his Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 NASCAR Sprint Cup car performed and as a result downplayed his chances at another triple.

“It means a lot,” said Busch of his 2010 Bristol sweep after the opening round of practice, when he was fourth fastest. “It's something that's never been done in the 16 years there's been three series and it hasn't been done in the three years since I did it. There could be a chance for me to do it again, but this race track's changed so much here that it may not come here, but it can still come at other places.”

Busch’s outlook for a second triple brightened considerably when he was the fastest driver on the track during the final Sprint Cup practice. Busch topped the field during Happy Hour with a blistering lap of 128.253 miles per hour.

Qualifying was another matter, as Busch drifted up to the wall and aborted his first lap, then spun and crashed on his second try. He’ll start from the back of the field on Saturday night. The team will not go to a back up car, but Busch was officially the slowest qualifier.

RICH GET RICHER? — Kevin Harvick already has signed with Stewart-Haas Racing for 2014 and the team is actively trying to land Kurt Busch for a fourth team car next year. While the addition of Harvick and possibly Busch will no doubt strengthen SHR, it could also help Hendrick Motorsports, which builds the chassis and engines used by SHR.

That fact hasn’t been lost on five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, who is hoping to benefit from the extra brainpower at SHR to help give feedback and input into the performance of the cars from both teams.

“We have a great relationship with Stewart-Haas Racing and I know with Harvick coming on board, Kevin and I have talked already and we work well together now, but I think that can improve and be better in the future,” Johnson said Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway. “And the more smart (people) pulling in the same direction, the better both companies are going to be.”

Johnson, who qualified 13th for Saturday night’s Irwin Tools Night Race, said SHR has proven to be a capable outfit.

“Stewart-Haas has shown their ability to win races and championships,” said Johnson. “And I think for the good of all of us, the more smart people, the more dedicated-focused people on both teams, the better all of us are going to be.”

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DANICA'S BEST

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HARD KNOCKS — Kurt Busch was the man of the hour Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway, as there was much speculation about whether he would, in fact, move to Stewart-Haas Racing next year or stay at Furniture Row Racing. During the final Happy Hour session for Saturday night’s Irwin Tools Night Race, Busch was second fast, his best lap of 128.099 miles per hour trailing only little brother, Kyle.

But the elder Busch missed the second half of the 45-minute final session because he bounced his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet off the wall looking for some extra speed up at the top of the track. Kurt ended up qualifying second to Denny Hamlin and will be one of the favorites to win tomorrow night.

BUBBLE BOY — With just three races left until the field is set for the Chase for the Sprint Cup, Joey Logano is hoping to race his way into NASCAR’s playoff round for the first time. Heading into Saturday night’s Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, Logano is just 7 points out of the second Chase wild card position.

Logano has momentum on his side; he’s coming off a huge victory last weekend at Michigan International Speedway. But the pressure is on to get it done again at Bristol. “We still can’t afford to have a bad race,” said Logano, who qualified sixth. “These are three very, very important races. I think we’re 17 points out of getting in the 10 top and only a few points of getting into the last wild card spot.”

In his first season with Penske Racing, Logano is having the best season in his five-year Sprint Cup career. Like every good racer, though, he’s hungry for more success.

“Our goal is to get in (the Chase) by points right now, whether that’s by wins or whatever,” said Logano. “I think if you have two wins, you’re pretty confident you’re gonna be in it, so if we can get that win it would be huge. If not, we’ll have some points we’ve got to make up but this team can do it. I’m very confident coming into this weekend, for sure.”

NEWS & NOTES: The 2013 “Dale Jr. Ride of Your Life!” sweepstakes is open. Fans can enter to win by liking Lionel Racing on Facebook and clicking the Ride of Your Life Sweepstakes box. The grand prize includes three laps with Dale Earnhardt Jr. around Charlotte Motor Speedway; two tickets to the NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Oct. 11- 12; and a host of other prizes. The link to the contest is here
 

Former Darlington Raceway president Chris Browning resigned Thursday to pursue other interests. He’ll be replaced by MRN Radio executive Chip Wile. … The No. 98 Phil Parsons Racing Ford driven by Michael McDowell will feature the Victory Junction colors this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway in celebration of the camp's 10th summer of enriching the lives of chronically ill children. For more information or to donate, visit http://www.victoryjunction.org.
 . … NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Jeb Burton will throw out the first pitch Tuesday when the Arizona Diamondbacks host the San Diego Padres in Phoenix. … According to a report in the Charlotte Business Journal, the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte lost $1.6 million between July 2012 and June 2013.
 

Tagged: Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kurt Busch, Danica Patrick, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano

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