Kahne's First Sprint Cup Win At Bristol
Sprint Cup: Bristol doesn't disappoint
You know the old joke: I went to a fight and a hockey game broke out.
Well, here's a little Bristol twist on it: I went to a fight and a race broke out.
And it was a good one. Not the post-race fight. The little Joey Logano-Denny Hamlin feud was relatively lame. But the race, ending in a Kasey Kahne victory, was the best Bristol Motor Speedway show in years.
Bristol is back, although maybe not quite the way it once was. Those demo derby days probably are gone for good.
But the Sprint Cup event Sunday at Thunder Valley was the best race of the season. It had a little bit of everything -- banged-up sheet metal, blown tires, crashed cars, a bump-and-run, some angry moments and side-by-side battles near the front down the stretch.
It's a shame the grandstands had so many empty seats, but this was the type of race that can bring people back. The new Gen-6 was a hit, although the car doesn't make much difference on the tiny half-mile oval at Bristol.
Being at Hendrick Motorsports is making a difference for Kahne. Sunday was his first career win at Bristol, coming one week after his second-place showing at Las Vegas.
"Absolutely, this is a big win," Kahne said. "It's a really big accomplishment to win here. This is a tough place. It's been a tough track for me at times, but we pulled it off. I have always wanted to win a Cup race here. To finally do it feels really good."
Now in his second season at Hendrick, it appears Kahne and crew chief Kenny Francis are ready to seriously contend for the championship.
"I love racing for Hendrick Motorsports with Rick Hendrick and the opportunity he gives us," Kahne said. "This whole team was flawless again. It's been a lot of fun. We just keep learning and getting better together because we have a great team here."
Kahne's accomplishment was overshadowed at the end by the post-race scuffle when Logano went to confront his former teammate, Hamlin.
Logano was not happy about Hamlin using the chrome horn to send Logano's car into the wall. Logano stuck his head in Hamlin window after the race and told Hamlin payback was coming. A pushing and shoving match broke out briefly between the crew members.
The two drivers had a Twitter spat two weeks ago.
"It's ridiculous," Logano said. "I race him clean all the time. I understand the way he's racing me now that he's not my teammate. I will race him the same way."
If you went to Bristol to see a fight, you got it. But a race broke out that made the legendary Tennessee short track a pretty entertaining show.
Kyle Busch Wins Bristol Nationwide Race
Nationwide: The Kyle & Kyle Show
Kyle Busch beat up on the little guys and won another Nationwide Series race. Yawn.
It's the other Kyle that matters from the Bristol race Saturday, the one who almost beat the Cup bully at the finish line.
If you didn't know it already, Kyle Larson, a 20-year-old cool Californian, is the real deal, folks. I hate to label anyone as a can't-miss future star, but Larson is the most talented young racer to come along in more than a decade.
He has a lot to learn, but he's learning quickly and Bristol was a good example. Larson was criticized at Daytona after punting the leader on the last lap to win a late-model race.
But Larson played nice against Busch on Saturday, moving outside to attempt a pass at the end and falling about half a car length short.
Another impressive newbie, one who isn't quite as young, is Travis Pastrana. The 29-year-old X Games star finished a respectable 16th in Bristol and ranks 12th in the standings after four races.
"It felt good all day," Pastrana said. "Outside of the top 15 is not where I was hoping for, but as much as I want to be winning, we're learning. If I can leave today saying I could do better now than I could at the start of the day, then I'm excited for next time, and hopefully we'll be in the top 10."
Camping World: Waiting game
If you want to build up fan interest at the start of the season, a six-week hiatus from the season opener until the next event doesn't seem like a good idea.
Such is the case for the Camping World Truck Series, which doesn't race again until April 6 at Martinsville. The series races three consecutive weekends starting with that event. Go figure.
The top three finishers from the 2012 season have some work to do after failing to get off to a good start at Daytona. Timothy Peters, who lost the title last year by only six points to James Buescher, finished 27th at Daytona.
Johnny Sauter, who was the CWTS runner-up in 2011, is on top of the standings after his Daytona victory.
Bristol feud: Logano vs. Hamlin
BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Joey Logano was tired of getting pushed around by his former Joe Gibbs Racing teammate.
So after Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway, in which Denny Hamlin spun him out with about 150 laps remaining, Logano decided to let him know it.
But as Logano leaned into the window of Hamlin's No. 11 Toyota, a shoving match broke out between the crews of both teams. Logano quickly was restrained, and he retreated to his Penske Racing hauler.
"We've got a freaking genius behind the wheel of the 11," Logano said. "Probably the worst teammate I ever had, so I learned that now. He chose to run into the back of me. Whatever. I have a scorecard and I'm not putting up with that.
"What goes around come around."
Hamlin apologized on the radio for getting into Logano, who was battling Jeff Gordon for the lead. He said the incident didn't have anything to do with the exchange the two had on Twitter following the Daytona 500 in which Hamlin questioned Logano's driving.