Bristol: Impressive trifecta not all sweet for fans

by | Special to CBSSports.com
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If there were one driver and one track that seemed destined to find a place together in the history books it's the combination of Kyle Busch and Bristol Motor Speedway.

The Tennessee half-mile track was tailor made for Busch's talents and affection for short track racing. His Bristol record confirms that connection with multiple wins in all three of NASCAR's top divisions including his fourth Sprint Cup triumph Saturday night.

Kyle Busch had lots of reasons to celebrate his weekend in Bristol. (US Presswire)  
Kyle Busch had lots of reasons to celebrate his weekend in Bristol. (US Presswire)  
But not even Busch thought winning a race in each of NASCAR's top trio of circuits in the same weekend was a complete lock.

"Coming to Bristol you could say, yeah, well, we're supposed to run well here," Busch said. "But still, it's cool to be able to put it all together in a complete weekend, with the truck, with the Nationwide car and with the Cup car."

However despite knowing the odds were against him pulling off the trifecta this weekend, Busch says he expects to win anytime he straps himself into a race car or truck. To hear Busch tell it, that's just part of his DNA.

"If I came out of here every week happy for losing, I'm not here for the right reasons," he said. "That's when I need to go away. I'm here to try to win, and if I don't win, I might not entirely be happy unless we struggled through a day and then all of a sudden, boom, we ran second or third, and then it's like, yeah, we got a good day out of here, that was good, a good points day or whatever. That's kind of just the way I am."

That brash and aggressive style is what endears Busch to some but makes him Public Enemy Number One to others. Based on the boos and jeers that accompanied Busch's pre and post introductions over the weekend, at Bristol it was more the latter.

However, Busch seems to revel in it and at least for now uses it as motivation.

"The fans are what drives this sport and what makes us go round and get us here every week," Busch said. "So it's cool to have them here, and they're passionate about who they like and who they don't like.

"I feel like to me I've been in this position since the upstart of my career, since I was 16, and it hasn't changed, and I don't foresee it changing any time soon. We've asked this question about 50 million times and I'll probably get it 25 million more times. You know, you just deal with it, man. You just go out there and do what you can."

This weekend at Bristol there wasn't much more Busch could have possibly done.

Fast five

 Saturday night's race wasn't quite a complete sellout but it was pretty close with an estimated crowd of 150,000 or so jamming into the cavernous Tennessee short track. There's no doubt the economy has played a part in taking a toll on Bristol sellout that came to a halt last year, but 150k is nothing to dismiss by any means, and after the wild weekend of racing perhaps more folks will save up for a ticket to make the 2011 trips to Bristol SRO.

 Things were much tamer in Saturday night's Sprint Cup Bristol weekend finale but after Wednesday's truck race and Friday's Nationwide Series event the bar was raised pretty high. Still the Cup cars put on an exciting show with several side-by-side battles throughout the 500-lap grind. Old Bristol and New Bristol seem to be coming together in the middle as the years go by, which should please fans who preferred one style of racing over the other.

More from Bristol

 Those dramatic and "impact moments" that NASCAR CEO Brian France mentioned the sanctioning body was after in his state of the sport address last month probably won't be associated with this year's race to get into the Chase. With only two races left to qualify for the championship field of twelve drivers, things are pretty locked up with Clint Bowyer holding a seemingly comfortable 100-point advantage over Jamie McMurray in the twelfth spot. The hope of having three or four or even five drivers vying for a berth in the Chase at the final race in Richmond won't happen this year.

 Hendrick Motorsports' sour stretch continued Saturday with none of the four drivers finishing in the top 10. Jeff Gordon notched an 11th place finish and Dale Earnhardt Jr. came from starting 27th to finishing 13th. But Mark Martin was a non-factor all night and Jimmie Johnson was taken out of contention after a mid-race tangle with Juan Pablo Montoya. There may not be panic spreading through the halls of the sprawling Hendrick complex but there no doubt are some worries mounting.

 The reverse momentum bug also hit Tony Stewart, who like Johnson showed some strength early on Saturday night. But he slowed to avoid hitting a spinning David Ragan on lap 126, which proved to be a fatal move when he got clipped by Tony Raines in a typical Bristol accordion-style melee. That damage took Stewart from contender to survivor and handing him a 27th place finish. That ended a strong of five straight top-10 runs for Stewart, who will now hope to get pointed in the right direction over the final two regular season races to bring some mojo into the Chase.

Speed sounds

"I saw it, but I passed it.'' -- Kyle Busch on whether he was aware of rival Brad Keselowski's No. 12 car's position on the track.

"In my opinion he's the most talented driver on the circuit." -- Kyle Busch's crew chief Dave Rogers.

"Brad Keselowski, driver of the Penske Racing Dodge. Kyle Busch is an ass." -- Keselowski's pre-race introduction of himself on the track's PA system.

"But we've just got to keep doing what we're doing. If we do that, I don't think they can catch us." -- Clint Bowyer, now 100 points ahead in the race for the final Chase transfer position.

Charging ahead

Jamie McMurray: He's already won the two biggest races of the season at Daytona and Indianapolis and now McMurray is making a late charge to grab a Chase spot. His solid run Saturday night pulled him within 100 points of the final playoff transfer position with two races to go.

Clint Bowyer: Another strong finish put Bowyer seemingly in control of his own Chase destiny as the Richard Childress Racing driver now enjoys that 100 point lead over McMurray for the last Chase berth.

Ryan Newman: Rebounded from his tangle and post-race altercation with Joey Logano at Michigan to score a sixth place finish which should take some of the sting out of his rough day in the Irish Hills a week ago

Downshifting

Jimmie Johnson: Had a very dominant car in the early going and looked as if a Bristol sweep was in his future until contact with Montoya sent him into the wall and to a 35th place finish. Johnson has suddenly fallen to ninth in the standings.

Denny Hamlin: While his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Busch was headed to victory lane, mechanical issues reached out and bit Hamlin who could muster only a 34th place finish.

Mark Martin: His Chase chances are all but officially over after another lackluster outing and a 23rd place finish for the veteran driver who has suffered through a disappointing season in the wake of last year's storybook campaign.

Sneak peek

The last off weekend of the Sprint Cup Series awaits as we shut down the month of August and get ready to finish up the regular season Labor Day weekend in Atlanta and then off to Richmond for the Chase cut-off finale.

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