Kyle Busch closer to Chase, but must run perfectly next two races
Busch should be thankful he didn’t end up in the wall, as almost any other driver would have done to him if they had been as close as Mark Martin was on the last few laps of the race. If you look back at Bristol history, the situation at the end of the race -- with Martin right on Busch’s bumper, then underneath him in the turns – has almost always ended with at least one torn-up racecar and some flared tempers (Terry Labonte vs. Dale Earnhardt on several occasions, for example).
Busch is very lucky he was racing against perhaps the only driver in the field who wouldn’t wreck him in that situation. Mark Martin is a class act and doesn’t want to win that way, by knocking a guy out of the way. But if it had been anyone else … even Jimmie Johnson or Jeff Gordon … chances are Busch would’ve gotten a not-so-friendly nudge with a few turns to go.
Due to Martin’s kind gesture, Busch remains a genuine Chase threat, but he can’t assume he will make it. It will take solid runs like he had at Bristol, at the very least a pair of top-10 finishes, for Busch to make the Chase field and compete for a title.
Ambrose shocks with top-3
I knew Marcos Ambrose would run well at Bristol, based on his solid top-10 finish in the spring. But I don’t think anyone predicted a top-3 finish. That’s what he got, and it should be clear to everyone who was still doubting that he is much more than a road course specialist. Look for big results from Marcos in the future as he adapts to the ovals more.
Start-and-parks dangerous up front
Somehow, the start-and-park team featuring once-competitive driver Dave Blaney qualified fourth for the Bristol race. When I saw this, I knew it was trouble, as that team always stops racing after a handful of laps. When you’re running up front at Bristol, that’s hard to do because so many drivers are bunched up in the front.
Sure enough, Blaney was slow from the get-go, and in the process of backing up caused a wreck that ruined Joey Logano’s day … and almost caused a bunch more wrecks. If they were just going to quit right away, Blaney’s team should have told NASCAR they didn’t plan to race and voluntarily gone to the back of the longest line. There’s no need to ruin other drivers’ days just because you managed to run a fast lap in qualifying and will just be in the other drivers' way. It doesn’t really matter to the team … they’re gong to finish 43rd regardless.
Good run for #71 team
In other start-and-park news, it was nice to see a sponsored #71 car attempting to complete a race and doing pretty solid, with David Gilliland running in the top-15 much of the race before being involved in an accident. It shows that team can do well if it ever gets some money behind it.