Action-Packed Bristol; Denny Hamlin Wins IRWIN Tools Night Race

I love NASCAR's night races. There's something different about a racetrack come alive at night - under those high-powered lights. More importantly, I don't have to drown myself with coffee at 12 midnight just to stay awake and watch the race. You know, I live halfway around the world so afternoon NASCAR races and my sleeping time just don't mix well.

IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol, August 25
My favorite driver, Jimmie Johnson (of course), is starting at 37th but I feel confident that he could make it to the front before the end of 500 laps. He just have these much frustrations to fuel his drive to win after that disappointing engine failure in Michigan and falling back 3 places in the Cup standings. 

Casey Mears leading the race to green
So, back to Bristol's race. It was definitely a wild race; several heated battles between drivers and 13 cautions thrown in the mix. Starting with a rained out qualifying which put Casey Mears in the pole and the starting 10 with names you rarely see starting out front. But after a grueling 500 laps, it was Denny Hamlin, the driver of the #11 Toyota FedEx Office, who grabbed the checkered flag and did a burnout at the end of the race. 

Denny Hamlin and Team 11 at Victory Lane
"It's Bristol -- I don't know what to say, man," Hamlin said as he crossed the finish line. "I'm so damn happy." Source:
Well, you should be happy Denny. Hey, it was a new Bristol; not the same one you've raced on back in March and I guess anyone who managed to snag a win on a racetrack they're not used to should be proud. Besides, he gained 2 positions in the Cup standings. 

Finishing in 2nd place is the driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet, Jimmie Johnson. Yes, Mr. 5-Time "drove it in deep" to propel his car from the 37th place to the front. Well, not the 1st place front; but, hey that was awesome already, right? Jeff Gordon, Brian Vickers, Marcos Ambrose, Kyle Busch, Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano, Kasey Kahne and Paul Menard rounded up the top 10 in that order. 

Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson at Bristol
Perhaps, the person most brokenhearted over the turn of events at Bristol is Carl Edwards, driver of the #99  Fastenal Ford. He was in a heated battle with Denny Hamlin with a few more laps to go; even leading a few laps. Unfortunately, he run out of gas at Lap 496 and had to pit. Yep, that allowed Denny Hamlin a free pass to grab the flag. 

An event to note was when Tony Stewart angrily thrown his helmet at Matt Kenseth's car down pit road. At Lap 333, the two drivers banged doors which effectively took Stewart out of contention for even the top 15 positions. And since it's Tony Stewart, you'd expect nothing less. Another throw down happened between Regan Smith and Danica Patrick; when Smith caused Patrick to crash on the frontstretch at Lap 434. There was no helmet involved, though; only wiggling of fingers. This is another thing that most NASCAR followers expect no less from Danica, I guess. Wrecking. :D

Tony Stewart (14) spins at Bristol

Danica Patrick's #10 car wrecked at Bristol
In the conclusion of Saturday night's race, Greg Biffle (#16 3M Ford), Jimmie Johnson (#48 Lowe's Chevrolet) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (#88 National Guard Chevrolet) cemented their stakes at the Chase. You can check the full standings here and the full result of the IRWIN Tools Night Race here.

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