Saturday night at Bristol is behind us, so what have we learned? First, I was reminded how much I love the action broadcast from that track. Second, I like pack racing. I do not need 20 or 30 cars all bunched together, but seeing four or five on the screen battling for position is pretty cool. Hell, it is downright exciting.
We learned that, in the end, it came down to Joey Logano holding off Kevin Harvick. Harvick got close, but Logano was the closer on Saturday. A third win on the season, the 25-year-old has 11 over his career in chalking up his 100th Top Ten. For the runner-up, he has recorded 17 Top Fives, 21 Top Tens, in 24 events. If Harvick wants more than his two victories, no better time than in the fall.
We learned that a pit penalty or a flat tire or a spin does not necessarily mean the day is done, even on a half mile track. Kyle Busch gets a late pit penalty. Finished eighth. Clint Bowyer spun out. Finished fifth. Carl Edwards lost the lead with a flat and went two laps down. Finished seventh. Not a win, but not a disaster, either.
We learned that Kyle Larson’s much-needed win would not come on that day. Lost a tire, found the wall, became a pinata, finished 41st. It no longer mattered, as a win and only a win will get him into the Chase. Matt Kenseth has a couple of wins, so when his engine blew up early it did not matter that he finished 42nd.
We learned that everybody in a Chase place coming in stayed in one when they left. We also learned that nobody without a win is guaranteed the same when they leave Darlington. It might be a tad of a stretch, but even Jamie McMurray is vulnerable. Okay, it would take an Aric Almirola win, a Bowyer runner-up finish, and McMurray finishing dead last…but it could happen.
We learned, or were reminded, that like Daytona, Talladega, and the road courses, Bristol could be a stand alone event. No need to be bothered by who is where in the standings or give a second thought as to the Chase or anything else other than the race itself.
That is a good thing, as we hope the Southern 500 in Darlington brings us more of the same. Greg Biffle hopes for more of the same he enjoyed in 2005 and 2006. He is the lone active driver not currently in the Chase who has won there, and he will need to do it again to ensure his own invite to the party.
On a personal note, this past week has been a time for celebration and contemplation in my family. Last Thursday, my mother Mae passed away after a lengthy illness. Since then, the 22 people who make up our immediate family; my father, my wife and sons, my brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews; have gathered together remembering Mom. For such a somber occasion, there has been a whole lot of laughter, which has always been our way. That was always Mom’s gift to us, and she would have loved it.