NASCAR: Irwin Tools Night Race rewind

Costly move by Kevin Harvick

08/24/2014 5:33 PM

08/25/2014 12:59 AM

While racing for the lead on Lap 161, Kevin Harvick turned Denny Hamlin, then the race leader, who slid down the track and then back up into Dale Earnhardt Jr.

An angry Hamlin tossed his HANS safety device at Harvick’s car as he came back around the track.

“I just wish I had some sort of car left so I could show him the favor back,” Hamlin said of Harvick. “We’re not even halfway, we’re racing for the lead – it’s just a misjudgment.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. said he wasn’t sure how the wreck started.

“The first thing I saw was (Hamlin) hitting the inside wall. There was a little bit of smoke so it was tough to judge the speed of his car coming back up the track,” he said. “I thought I could go around the top and be alright, but I guessed wrong.”

Notebook

Kyle Busch walks away: After taking the lead early, Kyle Busch picked up a pit road speeding penalty on Lap 63 and his night went downhill after that.

He got caught up in a wreck on Lap 125 and repeatedly claimed there was so much damage to the car, he couldn’t drive it.

Late in the race, Busch again complained over his team radio, “I need a whole new right-front suspension” and said he was about to hit the wall.

His crew chief, Dave Rogers, replied over the radio: “Park it behind the truck and take your whiny little ass to the bus.”

Busch ended up parking his No. 18 Toyota on pit road near Turn 2 and left the track while his crew arrived shortly thereafter and pushed the car to the hauler.

Team owner Joe Gibbs called the situation a “series of bad circumstances. ... Something like that happens (and) you can get frustrated,” he said.

Welcome top-five: It’s been a summer of discontent for Jimmie Johnson but it got a little better Saturday night with a fourth-place finish at Bristol. It’s Johnson’s first top-five since winning June 15 at Michigan.

“Top fives are good. We are happy about that,” Johnson said. “We had some issues on pit road and got nailed for speeding twice, which was totally on us. Just mistakes there that kind of hurt us a little bit.”

Observations

•  Bristol Motor Speedway got two presents this weekend – a new, later spring race date on the 2015 Sprint Cup Series calendar and a reminder of why most NASCAR fans make the August night race a must-add to their racing bucket lists. With a great crowd on hand, Bristol once again served up a stellar dose of its pre-race pageantry and the racing itself didn’t disappoint, either. There was plenty of drama on and off the track – one of Bristol’s lasting traditions.
•  Just a week into NASCAR’s new rules regarding conduct of drivers on the track following accidents, Hamlin appeared to come precariously close to crossing the line, heaving his HANS device at Harvick.While Hamlin didn’t necessarily confront Harvick, it would be difficult to believe those actions follow the spirit of the new rules.
• You have to wonder if team owner Roger Penske hadn’t given Joey Logano the opportunity to join his organization and develop into the driver he is today, would Logano have gone the way of former up-and-comers Casey Atwood and Reed Sorensen, both of whom were perhaps rushed into the Cup series before their time?

Five key moments

1. Logano moves into the lead for the first time, getting around Matt Kenseth on Lap 104.

2. Hamlin is wrecked while leading the race on Lap 161 in an incident that also collects Earnhardt.

3. Jamie McMurray takes the lead for the first time on Lap 238 and leads a race-high 148 laps but ends up finishing eighth.

4. Logano restarts sixth on Lap 438 but retakes the lead from Kenseth on Lap 456.

5. Brad Keselowski makes a last-ditch dive-bomb attempt at a pass on the last lap but Logano holds on for his third win of the season.



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