Re-grooved Bristol Motor Speedway has speed built right in
When I say Bristol the best of both worlds, obviously I am talking about the role Mother Nature played in making it a 2-day affair.
The night race in August there is one of the most iconic and anticipated races on the schedule. Saturday night really was one of the best crowds I have seen at Bristol in a long time.
However, they were only able to get 48 laps in until Mother Nature had other ideas of how Saturday evening was to go, so the race got postponed until Sunday afternoon.
So we had a little night racing and a whole lot of day racing. I feel bad for the fans because many of them simply couldn't stay over for the Sunday portion.
Kevin Harvick got his 33rd career Cup win and his first since March in Phoenix. It also gives him three more bonus points for when the Chase starts here in few weeks.
Kevin moved back into the points lead and Sunday was his 18th top-10 finish out of the 23 races we've run so far this year. The other really cool thing was that it was Stewart-Haas Racing's first-ever win at Bristol.
I think the work they did around the bottom of the track helped create some exciting racing. Whoever was set up the best to run high and low found themselves up front. You saw Kevin use the bottom to make a number of passes.
The track definitely has speed built into it. The Camping World Truck series broke its record there as did the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
I think it helped a number of drivers attain some amazing finishes Sunday. There definitely is something special with Bristol and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. For the second time, Ricky finished second at a Bristol race. The really remarkable part was Ricky was able to overcome a speeding penalty on pit road and recover from being two laps down to finish second.
Denny Hamlin was your third-place finisher. That was his fifth straight top-10 finish. It also marked his sixth top five at Bristol. The amazing thing about his third-place finish was he overcame a speeding penalty on Lap 310 and then a loose wheel on Lap 330. So to overcome all that and still finish third shows the strength he and that team had Sunday.
Young Austin Dillon continues to impress in 2016. He finished fourth Sunday and that was his fifth top five of the year. You can definitely see the strides he and crew chief Slugger Labbe are making because up until this year Austin had only two top-five finishes in his career.
I know Kevin won the race, but I think the story of the weekend has to be rookie Chris Buescher and crew chief Bob Osborne. This kid finished fifth and it is only his second top 10 finish of his rookie season. Can you tell me where the other one came from? It was his win at Pocono.
The kid is now in the top 30 in points and is Chase-eligible. What he can't do is become complacent because he's not comfortably in the top 30 and we still have three races to go in the regular season.
Jack Roush had mentioned after the Pocono win that they were going to put some resources into helping their alliance partner to try and help them make the Chase. If they can keep running the way they did Sunday for three more weeks, then they are a lock for the Chase.
Coming home seventh Sunday was Jimmie Johnson. It's hard to believe but that was only his ninth top-10 finish of the year and that so far is the fewest ever of his career.
It's also hard to believe that Hendrick Motorsports is on a winless streak of 18 races. In fact, among their four cars, they have only had three top 10 finishes in the last eight races. I talked to team owner Rick Hendrick and they are doing everything humanly possible to get that organization back to running up front and winning races.
I know we have Michigan this weekend, but I for one can't wait until Labor Day weekend. I can't wait to get to Darlington for the Southern 500.
I doubt there is anyone more humbled and proud than I am this year for their Throwback weekend. I'm honored to say I'll have my Mountain Dew paint scheme running Sept 3 in the NASCAR XFINITY series there and then Sunday I'll have three ... count 'em, three cars running my old paint schemes. What a thrill that is.
Ricky Stenhouse will be running my 1975 paint scheme on his No. 17 Fastenal Ford. Those are the colors I ran when I won my very first NASCAR Cup series race.
Denny Hamlin is running my 1984 Budweiser scheme on his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and then we welcome Tide back to the sport as Matt Kenseth will run the Tide colors on his No. 20 JGR Toyota.
I'm going to feel like a multi-car owner Saturday and Sunday at Darlington with four cars running my colors over two races. It really is quite humbling.
All this is happening at the track where I won my 84th and final NASCAR Cup race in the Mountain Dew Southern 500 on September 6, 1992. It just makes me happy to see those colors back on the track and believe me, I wouldn't mind making a trip to Victory Circle one more time to honor one of those drivers and my old colors.