Bristol Rear-View Mirror


Pete Pistone shares some news, notes and observations from a weekend of racing at Bristol Motor Speedway. (Photo: Getty Images)


News, notes and observations from a weekend of racing at Bristol Motor Speedway:

Love him or hate him – and based on the serenade of boos coming from the grandstands on Saturday night at Bristol, many fall into the latter camp, the talent of Kyle Busch is undeniable.

He turned in his second Bristol trifecta this week - taking the Camping World Truck Series, Xfinity and, finally, Saturday night’s Monster Energy Series main event. He now has 20 wins at Bristol across NASCAR's three national series and 40 career Cup Series victories.

He’ll never be universally loved and Busch has no problem accepting that fact.

"It’s just a matter of being able to win people’s hearts whether it’s outracing, outdriving, outperforming people on the racetrack, or sometimes their antics," Busch explained. "Some people like it, some people don’t. A lot of people like a lot of other drivers that were popular and some didn’t either, so I don’t care. I am who I am."

In a sport that was at its zenith when its larger-than-life personalities were front and center, Busch’s bravado is welcomed. He wears the villain's cap with pride.

Sure, you can quibble about the level of talent he beats on a near-regular basis in the Truck and Xfinity Series. He’s on track to set marks in those two divisions that, more than likely, will never be challenged.

But he’s also a Cup Series champion and his second win of the 2017 season on Saturday night at Bristol is a solid reminder that Busch will be in the mix for a second title this year.

Boo him if you choose, it’s the right of every sports fan to voice their disdain for any athlete. However, do so knowing full well you’re witnessing one of the top talents in NASCAR history.

- Drivers nearly coming to a stop at the end of pit road to ensure preferred lane choice on a restart was laughable on Saturday night. The sight of cars hustling out of their pit stalls and down pit road only to come to a screeching stop was, to say the least, weird. There were several complaints from drivers on their in-car radios, ironically from some drivers employing the strategy. There wasn’t any contact made, which would have surely created more complaints, but the word is that NASCAR is looking at other options to alleviate the practice including adding the "cone rule," a common practice used at short tracks that allow drivers to pick their lane choice even if it means losing a position.

- The news of Brad Keselowski’s Camping World Truck Series team shutting down after the 2017 season rocked the series’ garage area. While there were certainly rumblings that Keselowski’s operation was not on sound financial ground – especially in light of his comments earlier this year that he was losing an estimated $1 million per season, the loss of the team is a huge blow. The demise of Red Horse Racing earlier this year, and the potential of GMS Racing elevating its effort to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and leaving its truck program sets up a perilous time for the division. The rising costs to run a competitive truck has forced the sanctioning body to look at ways to cut expenses including the possible introduction of a spec engine, with a Darlington test slated next week. Bringing the series to more short tracks and off some of the larger tracks would also seem to be a solution, but it is easier said than done. The Truck Series continues to produce some of the sport’s best racing, but there are some major issues that have to be addressed.

- Chris Buescher signing a contract extension to remain at JTG Daugherty Racing is both positive and curious news. Since joining JTG this year as a second driver to holdover AJ Allmendinger, Buescher has shown steady progress. The former Xfinity Series champion, who made the playoffs last year as a member of Front Row Motorsports, keeps showing signs of improvement on a near-weekly basis. The deal means Buescher’s relationship with Roush Fenway Racing, where he was once thought to be the organization’s future, has ended.

- On the other side of the equation is Matt Kenseth, who still does not have a ride for 2018 ... or at least not one that has been made public. Kenseth continues to preach that he’s not worried about his future and only focused on winning this year for Joe Gibbs Racing and securing a spot in the playoffs. I took Kenseth’s demeanor during Friday’s media session at Bristol as one of two things: either he has a deal put together for next season and, in typical Kenseth fashion, is simply downplaying the situation ... or the former series champion has come to terms with the fact that his days of competing in NASCAR’s top division are over. I hope it’s the former not the latter because I believe Kenseth can still be an impact player, even at the (ahem) advanced age of 46 (really?). But there does exist the possibility, like Greg Biffle at the end of last season, that Kenseth could be left without a seat and out of the sport when the music stops.

The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.

Next MRN Broadcast


Upcoming Cup Broadcasts

© 2017 MRN. All Rights Reserved

FacebookTwitterDiggDeliciousLinkedInGoogle BookmarksYahoo BookmarksLive (MSN)

ISC Track Sites