BRISTOL, TN - AUGUST 27: Crew members for Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Dodge, celebrate winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 27, 2011 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

NASCAR At Bristol Motor Speedway: Brad Keselowski Wins The Night Race

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27 Total Updates since August 24, 2011
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After Bristol, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Closer To Clinching Chase Berth

For much of the summer, it seemed Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s Chase hopes wouldn't be determined until the checkered flag waved at Richmond.

But after Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway, there's a chance Junior Nation might have reason to celebrate after Atlanta.

Earnhardt Jr. finished 16th on Saturday night at Bristol to retain ninth place in the Sprint Cup standings, but he expanded his lead over the 11th place driver by nine points.

Clint Bowyer trailed Earnhardt Jr. by 30 points entering Bristol, but a bad night (26th place) dropped him to 40 points back. Bristol winner Brad Keselowski is now the biggest threat to Earnhardt Jr., sitting 39 points behind in 11th place.

If Earnhardt Jr. can leave Atlanta having picked up nine more positions on Bowyer and Keselowski, he'll clinch a Chase spot before Richmond.

"I saw the 33 (Bowyer) and the 14 (Stewart) having trouble," Earnhardt Jr. said after the Bristol race. "I know the 2 (Keselowski) won. He's gotta be getting pretty close to us or right on us to take a spot from me. But we put a little distance on the 14, who is in the same situation we are."

How much time will Earnhardt Jr. spend looking at the point standings this week?

"About five minutes – I've got a pretty good memory," he cracked.

As for his 16th-place Bristol finish, Earnhardt Jr. said he had a decent balance on the car but "we just weren't fast."

"I couldn't ever get on the offense of anything," he said. "I couldn't ever get up on my car and attack anybody or chase 'em down. If I caught somebody and passed 'em, it was just because they were worse off than I was.

"Just hanging on all night, trying not to lose much, trying not to get run over."

Earnhardt Jr. said his team missed a couple pieces of the puzzle at Bristol and added "we didn't run to our potential at all."

"We got to get a little better, you know? We've got to get a lot better," he said. "But we worked really hard tonight."

Asked what the team was missing, Earnhardt Jr. turned to crew chief Steve Letarte, who was standing nearby.

"I don't know, what are we missing?" Earnhardt Jr. asked.

Whether or not the No. 88 team can figure out the answer before the Chase will determine how much of a championship contender it will be.

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What The Heck Happened To Tony Stewart At Bristol?

Tony Stewart sat on a couple tires, listening to acting Stewart-Haas competition director Matt Borland while blankly staring toward his car.

After a dismal qualifying effort, Stewart had told the Bristol Motor Speedway fans before Saturday night's race that he didn't plan on staying at the back toward long.

But unfortunately for Stewart and his Chase hopes, that never happened. Stewart ran toward the rear all night and finished 28th, three laps behind the leaders.

The good news was that, thanks to a bad night from Clint Bowyer, Stewart remained 10th in the point standings, 21 points ahead of 11th-place Brad Keselowski.

But Stewart doesn't look anything like a championship contender. He said teammate Ryan Newman's setup helped make it "better than it was shaping up to be yesterday," but it still wasn't good.

"Just a rough night," he said. "Struggled through it."

After last week's race at Michigan, Stewart said his team didn't deserve to make the Chase. He said before the Bristol race that he wanted to make it for the company and his sponsors, but wasn't feeling optimistic afterward.

"It's no different than last week," he said. "The feeling is the same way – you still want to make it. We're working hard at it."

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NASCAR Bristol Night Race Results: Brad Keselowski Continues Hot Streak With Second Win In Four Weeks

Brad Keselowski continued his summer surge Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway as he drove to his third victory of the year and second in four races.

Although the race was dominated by Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth, Keselowski's Paul Wolfe-led pit crew was able to get him out ahead of both Gordon and Kenseth. With Martin Truex Jr. taking two tires, Keselowski restarted on the inside of the front row and was able to take off with the lead. 

As Keselowski drove away, Truex, Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Jamie McMurray and Kenseth fought for position behind him. 

Climbing from the car in Victory Lane, Keselowski said "an awesome car" and "an awesome team" made the difference and led to the win.

"The night race at Bristol! This is the race that Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt win this race," he said. "This is a race of champions. There's races that pay more, there's races that might have a little more prestige, but this is the coolest damn one of them all."

In the four races since his testing wreck at Road Atlanta, Keselowski has two victories and four top-3 finishes, and emerged as a serious threat for the Sprint Cup title. 

Here is how they finished:

  1. Brad Keselowski
  2. Martin Truex Jr.
  3. Jeff Gordon
  4. Jimmie Johnson
  5. Jamie McMurray
  6. Matt Kenseth
  7. Denny Hamlin
  8. Ryan Newman
  9. Carl Edwards
  10. Marcos Ambrose
  11. Kasey Kahne
  12. AJ Allmendinger
  13. Joey Logano
  14. Kyle Busch
  15. Jeff Burton
  16. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  17. Kurt Busch
  18. Regan Smith
  19. Juan Pablo Montoya
  20. David Ragan
  21. Brian Vickers
  22. Kevin Harvick
  23. Casey Mears
  24. David Gilliland
  25. Andy Lally
  26. Clint Bowyer
  27. David Starr
  28. Tony Stewart
  29. Mike Bliss
  30. Paul Menard
  31. Greg Biffle
  32. David Stremme
  33. Terry Labonte
  34. Bobby Labonte
  35. Dave Blaney
  36. David Reutimann
  37. Travis Kvapil
  38. Mark Martin
  39. Michael McDowell
  40. Joe Nemechek
  41. Mike Skinner
  42. Scott Speed
  43. Robby Gordon

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NASCAR Bristol Night Race: 2011 Start Time, Starting Lineup, TV/Radio Listings And More

It's NASCAR race night at Bristol Motor Speedway, and we've got the actual race start time, the starting lineup and some other facts about the Irwin Tools Night Race for you below.

Start time: The command to start engines will be given by the CEO of Newell Rubbermaid (and 250 of his guests) at 7:41 p.m. Eastern time. After a few pace laps, honorary starter Ken Goodgame of Ace Hardware will wave the green flag at 7:46 p.m. Eastern. So if you want to skip the pre-race show and just tune in for the race, flip on your TV set at 7:46.

Race name/distance: The Irwin Tools Night Race used to have the "500" in its name when Sharpie was the sponsor, but that's the number of laps – not miles. The 500-lap race is actually 266.5 miles around the track, which is just over a half-mile.

TV and radio: There's a chance you may not be able to see the Bristol race tonight based on your location. First of all, if you're on the East Coast, your local ABC affiliate may cut away to hurricane coverage. Second, if you live in one of these cities, the race will not be on ABC due to preseason football. Make sure to check and see if you're affected. If you aren't near a TV or can't watch, the radio broadcast can be found on your local Performance Racing Network (PRN) affiliate. Click here to see a list of PRN stations where you can listen.

National anthem: Children of NASCAR drivers who are part of racing's Christian organization – Motor Racing Outreach – will sing the national anthem.

Tickets: As of Friday, the track said the race could potentially sell out based on the walkup crowd for tonight's race. There may still be some tickets left if you decide to make a last-minute trip, but make sure to arrive early.

Weather: According to the unofficial NASCAR weatherman, the temperature at race time is expected to be around 79 degrees with mostly clear skies. Thankfully, Hurricane Irene is staying far away from the track.

Last time: Kyle Busch and Kyle Busch. Which do you want first? In the spring, Busch won the Jeff Byrd 500 to win his fifth Bristol Cup race (and fourth in the last five events). And one year ago, Kyle Busch completed his famous "Bristol sweep" with a victory in the night race.

Starting lineup for tonight's NASCAR race at Bristol Motor Speedway:

  1. Ryan Newman
  2. Carl Edwards
  3. Matt Kenseth
  4. Jeff Gordon
  5. Mark Martin
  6. Jamie McMurray
  7. Paul Menard
  8. Brad Keselowski
  9. Joey Logano
  10. Kurt Busch
  11. Marcos Ambrose
  12. Regan Smith
  13. Jimmie Johnson
  14. Greg Biffle
  15. Kevin Harvick
  16. Clint Bowyer
  17. David Gilliland
  18. AJ Allmendinger
  19. Juan Pablo Montoya
  20. Denny Hamlin
  21. Jeff Burton
  22. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  23. Kyle Busch
  24. David Ragan
  25. Kasey Kahne
  26. Brian Vickers
  27. Martin Truex Jr.
  28. Joe Nemechek
  29. Casey Mears
  30. Bobby Labonte
  31. David Stremme
  32. Michael McDowell
  33. Travis Kvapil
  34. David Reutimann
  35. Dave Blaney
  36. Scott Speed
  37. David Starr
  38. Andy Lally
  39. Robby Gordon
  40. Mike Bliss
  41. Terry Labonte
  42. Tony Stewart
  43. Mike Skinner

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NASCAR Bristol Starting Lineup: Ryan Newman Leads 2011 Night Race Qualifying

Though it's easier than it used to be to pass at Bristol Motor Speedway – the track's repave in 2007 took away the single-groove feel – starting position is still very important at the half-mile oval.

So it stands to reason that Ryan Newman (122.811 mph) and Carl Edwards (122.670) will be happy to lead the NASCAR starting lineup for Saturday's Irwin Tools Night Race.

Newman and Edwards earned the front row in Friday evening's Sprint Cup Series qualifying session, followed by Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin.

Jamie McMurray, Paul Menard, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Kurt Busch rounded out the top 10.

Here's the starting lineup for NASCAR's Bristol night race:

  1. Ryan Newman
  2. Carl Edwards
  3. Matt Kenseth
  4. Jeff Gordon
  5. Mark Martin
  6. Jamie McMurray
  7. Paul Menard
  8. Brad Keselowski
  9. Joey Logano
  10. Kurt Busch
  11. Marcos Ambrose
  12. Regan Smith
  13. Jimmie Johnson
  14. Greg Biffle
  15. Kevin Harvick
  16. Clint Bowyer
  17. David Gilliland
  18. AJ Allmendinger
  19. Juan Pablo Montoya
  20. Denny Hamlin
  21. Jeff Burton
  22. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  23. Kyle Busch
  24. David Ragan
  25. Kasey Kahne
  26. Brian Vickers
  27. Martin Truex Jr.
  28. Joe Nemechek
  29. Casey Mears
  30. Bobby Labonte
  31. David Stremme
  32. Michael McDowell
  33. Travis Kvapil
  34. David Reutimann
  35. Dave Blaney
  36. Scott Speed
  37. David Starr
  38. Andy Lally
  39. Robby Gordon
  40. Mike Bliss
  41. Terry Labonte
  42. Tony Stewart
  43. Mike Skinner
DNQ: T.J. Bell, JJ Yeley, Jeff Green.
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Tony Stewart Offers Few Details About New Driver Danica Patrick's Future

One day after Danica Patrick announced she was driving a partial NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule next season for Stewart-Haas Racing, team owner Tony Stewart had few details on his new driver's future.

While Stewart said he was "excited about" Patrick's arrival, he didn't seem to know much about what 2012 would look like yet.

See for yourself:

Are there are any thoughts about running Danica in the Daytona 500?

"We're worried about other stuff right now. We're working on her schedule, and when we have a schedule, we'll let you guys know what her races are going to be."

How far down the road are you in the team hiring process for next year?

"We'll let you guys know. We're working on it, guys. There's a lot of stuff to do."

Will the sponsors be the ones deciding which races Danica does next year?

"When we have that, we'll let you know. We'll let you know. (Reporter tries to interrupt with follow-up) We'll let you know. I've already talked about that once. I'm not going to keep beating a dead horse here. When we have the schedule to announce to you, we will let you know. We don't have it set yet."

(Reporter attempts to follow up with question again)

"I know what you're asking. I don't have an answer to your question. When we have the schedule done, we will let you know. Thank you."

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Kevin Harvick Warns Kyle Busch: Run Your Mouth, Get Your Butt Whipped Again

During Wednesday night's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway, Kyle Busch and Elliott Sadler raced hard at the front of the field. As Busch tried to clear Sadler off the corner, he found out the hard way he was not clear and Busch's truck made hard contact with the outside wall.

Upset with the incident, Busch slowed on the track and intentionally wrecked Sadler, who was still racing for the win. 

See the incident for yourself:

When asked if he believed Sadler had wrecked him intentionally, Busch said he was sure of it, asking "Where does his paycheck come from?...He wrecked us and I'm not going to put up with it."

Although he was running a truck owned by Joe Denette Wednesday evening, Sadler races full-time in the Nationwide Series for Kevin Harvick. Given their past rivalry, Busch made the quick assumption Sadler received orders to take him out.

On Friday at Bristol, Busch said he had not watched any video of Wednesday night's incident, but had a talk with Sadler, adding that "it was all good."

"It's over, it's done with, it's in the past," he said. "We agreed on some things. It was a delightful conversation."

When Harvick was asked about the incident Friday at Bristol, he reminded everyone he was not involved and had no reason to talk with Busch. 

"You would hope that he went back and watched the race," he said. "The first thing that happened was he shoved Sadler up the track and then he got mad that Elliott ran in the back of him, and then he drove over the front of him and wrecked himself. 

"Old Kyle I guess showed up this last week, and really laid into the fact that he was kind of pouting because he was getting his butt whipped I guess. If he keeps running his mouth he might get it whipped again off the track."

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Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Making 2011 NASCAR Chase 'Would Save Me A Lot Of S--t'

With three races remaining in NASCAR's regular season, the only person standing between Dale Earnhardt Jr. and a clinched Chase spot (as of now) is Clint Bowyer.

Earnhardt Jr., ninth in the Sprint Cup Series standings, is 30 points ahead of 11th-place Bowyer. If he can gain 17 more positions on Bowyer over the next two races, he'll clinch a Chase spot based on tiebreakers over Bowyer. All he'd have to do is start his engine at Richmond to be in the Chase.

Eight positions here, nine positions there? Junior Nation fans hope it can be done, and their driver certainly does, too.

"Man, that'd be really, really good if we can get that done before Richmond," he said Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway. "It's a lot of pressure to go into that last race and you're sort of on the verge, on the edge. It takes away a bit of your focus on that specific race and your ability to really go out there and try to win it. ... So I'd love to get it out of the way early."

That said, Earnhardt Jr. won't say it's a specific goal. The objective for Bristol and Atlanta – and ultimately Richmond – remains "to keep trying to drive the best we can and see what happens."

Making the Chase won't do anything for Earnhardt Jr. from a personal standpoint, he said; it's strictly professional. The only benefit he sees to making the Chase on a personal level is that if he misses it, "I'll probably catch a lot of shit about it."

"It would save me a lot of shit if I make the Chase," he said with a chuckle. "That's the only thing, personally, that I have to worry about."

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Kurt Busch Opted Out Of Bristol Nationwide Race To Focus On Sprint Cup

Two weeks ago at Watkins Glen, Kurt Busch stepped in the Penske Racing Nationwide Series car for injured teammate Brad Keselowski and went to Victory Lane in his first series start of the season. 

Presented with the opportunity yet again this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway, Busch turned down the offer to focus his attention entirely on his Sprint Cup Series program as the Chase approaches

Since Busch scored his first victory of the season at Infineon Raceway, he has backslid from fourth in points to eighth with two races left before the Chase. With two DNFs in the last two races, Busch looked at the chance to race Friday night and decided to pass. 

"I thought the best opportunity for us to get our Cup program where it needed to be was to focus just 100 percent on it," he said. 

Among the areas Busch feels his team has to focus over the next few weeks include making adjustments throughout the race, having strong pit strategy and solid pit stops. 

In turning down the opportunity to race, Busch made a decision few in the Sprint Cup ranks make and also reflected on the meaning of the Nationwide Series.

"It made me think what the Nationwide Series is about, and that's a development program, a development series for people to work their way on up to Cup," he said, adding sometimes filling in for an injured driver "can make your career happen in a big way."

"It's an opportunity for a young driver to try and make a name for himself and have a good run this weekend," Busch said. "The attention will be on him because that is a championship car, and has had a lot of big names in it this year."

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Brad Keselowski Reflects On 'Kyle Busch Is An Ass' Comment At Bristol

When Brad Keselowski goes to autograph signings, he hears two comments from fans every time.

The first one: "Wreck Kyle Busch." And the second one, in a nod to his infamous line at last year's Bristol night race: "Kyle Busch is still an ass."

"I get that every autograph signing I go to," Keselowski said Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway. "Before I get the 'Go win this week,' I guarantee I get the 'This week, I'm going to be in the stands – make sure you wreck Kyle Busch.'

"I'm like, 'OK, alright. I didn't want to win, I just wanted to cause a wreck this weekend.'"

Keselowski said he wasn't sure how his Bristol comment changed NASCAR fans' perceptions of him, but said he found the aftermath "kind of difficult and funny at the same time."

That doesn't mean he wants the "Kyle Busch is an ass" line to be his legacy or shape his image. He wants his on-track actions to do the talking.

"I want to have a fan base who likes me for who I am and what I do performance-wise, but I understand there's more to this sport than that. And I don't try to hide from that," he said. "Certainly as I continue to perform better and better, I would like to think I would get more recognition for performance. That's a large goal of mine."

So what's Keselowski planning to say to the Bristol fans this year?

"I don't know what I'm going to say to top that," he said. "I don't even know if I should try. It was kind of its own moment and there was an authenticity to it that you hate to ruin just by having another moment just to have one."

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NASCAR Bristol Motor Speedway 2011 Weekend Schedule

You ready for Bristol yet? Pumped? Stoked?

We're all of the above, as SB Nation is live from Bristol Motor Speedway for one of NASCAR's most exciting races. Though it's no longer one of the hottest tickets in sports – as it once was – the Bristol night race is still one of NASCAR's most impressive spectacles and is always worth watching.

Take a look at the weekend schedule for the Sprint Cup Series and the Nationwide Series so you can stay up on all the latest developments.

NASCAR at Bristol 2011 night race schedule (all times Eastern):

FRIDAY

9 a.m. – Nationwide Series final practice (Two hours)

12 p.m. – Sprint Cup Series practice (Two hours)

2:45 p.m. – Sprint Cup Series final practice (45 minutes)

3:40 p.m. – Nationwide Series qualifying

5:10 p.m. – Sprint Cup Series qualifying

7:30 p.m. – Nationwide Series race (250 laps, 133.24 miles)

SATURDAY

Approx. 7:45 p.m. – Sprint Cup Series race (500 laps, 266.5 miles)

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