Bristol Race Recap

The Key Moment – Kevin Harvick’s car was faster on long runs but a flurry of late cautions kept him from being able to mount a charge late in the race.

In a Nutshell – Perhaps the least popular win in NASCAR history.

Dramatic Moment – What are you kidding? This is Bristol. There were about 500 laps worth of dramatic moments.

What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week

What if they held a race and nobody finished? Why hasn’t anyone built a Bristol clone track?

Was Busch’s alternator really laying down or were they playing wounded duck with Harvick’s team over the radio?

Is this racing or a 500 lap demolition derby?

Think Kenseth can lock up the title by Martinsville?

I wonder how the title sponsor, Sharpie’s, PR folks felt about their driver being the most booed and reviled driver at the event they sponsored even after he won it?

How come the most anticipated race of the year is on cable TV and Watkin’s Glen is on NBC?

Still think NASCAR fixes the races? Yeah, like they wanted Busch to win this one.

Jeff Green ran into the back of the AOL car he used to drive and wrecked Steve Park. Who would have thunk, huh? It appeared like Green gets paid according to how many cars he takes out. Jeremy Mayfield might have earned the Mother Teresa award for finally parking Green before he killed someone.

Was the TNT booth crew practicing Anger Encouragement Therapy? It seemed like they were dying to see a fight. But apparently the drivers had all had some happy dust sprinkled in the their water bottles. When Mark Martin is the angriest driver after a race something isn’t right.

What in blazes was that debris that bought out the 13th caution? It looked like some fool had tossed a styrofoam cooler full of beer over the fence. Couldn’t have been that though. Some other drunk would have dove over the fence to save the beer.

What was wrong with Jeff Gordon’s pit crew all night? Were they up to all hours Friday night reading Playboy?

Did the girl behind the counter at the 7-11 look at you funny when you told her you were buying Playboy to hear what Gordon’s former girlfriend had to say about him?

Are you allowed to say “butthole” on TV?

The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune

It doesn’t get much worse than not being able to race at all. Poor Jimmy Spencer. Let me understand this. Kurt Busch tried to wreck him, then goaded him into hitting him after the race and Spencer gets suspended. (And how is it that Busch supposedly ran out of gas right in front of Spencer’s team’s rig? He’d run out of gas on the track and stopped for enough gas to finish the race. Don’t tell me they only got one lap’s worth of gas in the car. Lying cretin!) Too bad Busch didn’t get suspended for the rest of the season. He’d have been dynamite in the role of Ichabod Crane in the Las Vegas Community Theater’s summer stock production of the Brainless Horseman. Having Busch win the race really had to toast Spencer’s buns.

You have to feel for the body and fab shop guys of a lot of teams after a 500 mile wreckfest. They’ll be arriving at the shop tomorrow with sleeping bags, cases of Red Bull, and a full complement of large hammers.

Petty Engineering had both cars taken out in the lap 6 wreck.

Both Joe Gibbs cars were involved in sixth caution flag wreck. Ever get the feeling you’re in the in the right place at the wrong time?

At Bristol Rusty Wallace is always a threat to wind up in victory lane. Instead he ended up in the hospital after hitting Michael Waltrip’s stricken car as it slid down the track.

Mark Martin was running well in a competitive car but got penalized for taking his catch can out of the pit. That dropped him to the back of the pack and it didn’t take long for him to find trouble in the form of Johnny Sauter.

Sterling Marlin was running second when he was victimized by another driver’s Busch league maneuver.

Ricky Rudd was trying to steer his way around Marlin’s stricken car but hit the 88 car and busted his radiator. Rudd had a rare strong run going for much of the race up to that point.

Jeff Gordon had to lift out of the gas when Kenny Schrader cut down a tire ahead of him. Kenseth ran into the back of the 24 and put Gordon into the inside wall. Put out the fire and call in the dogs. Gordon's title chances for 2003 are over. (Gordon wasn’t faultless either. He took our Ryan Newman on lap 77.)

Schrader was gunning for a second consecutive top 10 finish but cut down a tire and wound up twelfth.

Robby Gordon had a mechanical failure, a pit road accident and a wreck on the track all during the same race. That’s gotta leave a bruise.

The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune

Matt Kenseth had a tire going flat but a caution flew on lap 160 allowing him to pit without losing a lap. He survived his contact with Jeff Gordon with no damage. He narrowly avoided several wrecks. When his car went away late a caution flag once agaon fell at a perfect time allowing him to pit and he advanced to fourth with the fresh tires. Any more questions as to why Kenseth is leading the points? He’s got Lady Luck solidly in his pocket.

Ryan Newman was involved in two wrecks but still managed to come back and finish sixth.

Ricky Craven survived hard contact with Ted Musgrave and managed to finish eighth despite severe damage to his car.

Worth Noting

Michael Waltrip suffered his first DNF of the 2003 season. The last time Waltrip failed to finish a race was last September at Richmond. That leaves Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick and Terry Labonte as the only three drivers to start every race this year without suffering a DNF.

Kurt Busch has now won three of the last four Cup races at Bristol. The last time a driver won both races at Bristol in the same season was Rusty Wallace in 2000. Previous to that the last season sweeps were Dale Earnhardt in 1987 and 1985.

31 of the 43 drivers were involved in accidents during the course of the race.

Busch scored his fourth victory of the season leaving him one victory behind Ryan Newman who has five.

Matt Kenseth and Bobby Labonte are now tied with ten top 5 finishes this year while Earnhardt Jr. and Ryan Newman have nine. They lead the pack in that statistic. Kenseth leads all drivers with nineteen top 10 finishes in 24 starts this year. Earnhardt Jr. is second in that category with fifteen.

The top ten finishers consisted of three Fords, three Dodges, three Chevys and a lone Pontiac.

Jamie McMurray in third was the top finishing rookie at Bristol.

No driver scored top 10 finishes in all four short track races run to date this season. Busch, Harvick and Earnhardt each have three top 10s in those four races.

Jeff Gordon has now finished out of the top 20 in five of the last six races. I hear he’s writing a book entitled “How to Piss Away a Championship.” Normally it wouldn’t sell well but I hear he’s including pictures of a former girlfriend.

Ryan Newman now has finished eleventh or better in six of the last seven races and has won three of those events.

Matt Kenseth now has four straight top 10 finishes.

Kevin Harvick has four straight top 5 finishes including a win and a pair of runner up finishes.

While Bobby Labonte has just as many top 5 finishes as Matt Kenseth, Labonte hasn’t scored a top 5 since Daytona seven races ago.

Jamie McMurray’s third place finish equals his best of the 2003 season. (McMurray also finished third at the Brickyard.)

Ricky Craven scored his first top 10 finish (8th) since Pocono in June. Jeremy Mayfield scored his first top 10 finish since Chicago.

Rusty Wallace has now finished 37th or worse in the last three races.

Mark Martin suffered his sixth DNF of 2003.

What’s the Points?

Kenseth continues to lead the points and is now 351 markers ahead of Earnhardt Jr.

Jeff Gordon had a tough points night falling two spots to fifth now 532 points to the arrears of Kenseth. Bobby Labonte also fell two spots to ninth. But Michael Waltrip had the worst hit in the points tumbling three spots to eighth.

Inside the top 10 Kurt Busch had the best points gain advancing three spots to sixth. Jimmie Johnson moved forward two spots to fourth. Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman each advanced a spot and are now third and seventh respectively.

Terry Labonte and Jeff Burton swapped twelfth and thirteenth spot with Labonte now having the advantage.

Last year series champion Tony Stewart finished 577 points ahead of tenth place points finisher Ricky Rudd. Right now sixth place points man Kurt Busch is 602 points behind Kenseth.

Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) Give it five cans. It wasn’t the best ever race at Bristol but an average Bristol night race is better than most tracks best races ever. (And throw one of those cans at that scoundrel in Victory Lane.)

Next Up – With a touch of mist to my eyes, I remind you my friends we’re off to the last Labor Day running of the Last Great race at Darlington next week. It about breaks my heart.

Related Topics:

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, 2003

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