Updated: August 27, 2012, 1:21 PM ET

Bubble boys take backseat at Bristol bullring

Blount By Terry Blount
Ryan NewmanAndrew Weber/US PresswireRyan Newman's Chase chances took a serious hit Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Carl Edwards knew he had to go for broke Saturday night. It didn't work. Ryan Newman cut a tire and wrecked at the new Bristol (which, fortunately, was a lot like the old Bristol) and saw his playoff spot vanish for the moment. Jeff Gordon finished an impressive third, but it means almost nothing.

But all is not lost, and they know it. Those three drivers are outside the Chase cutoff with two races to go before the playoff begins. However, one win and they could be in.

Five drivers outside the 12-man cutoff (Edwards, Newman, Gordon, Marcos Ambrose and Joey Logano) still have a chance to make the Chase with two regular-season races remaining -- Atlanta on Sunday night and Richmond on Sept. 8.

"I'm just trying hard," Ambrose said after his fifth-place finish at Bristol. "That's two top-5s in two weeks for us. It's been a great month. The track went away from us late in the race, so we couldn't contend for the win. Some of our races haven't been the best this year, so it's good to have a strong run and a shot to make the Chase."

Ambrose is 16th in standings with one victory. He won't make it into the top 10 on points, but one win in the next two races could earn him one of the two wild-card spots.

The same is true of Logano, who is 18th in the standings with one victory. He led the most laps Saturday night (139) but finished seventh.

"We led a lot of laps and have to be proud of that," Logano said. "But we need to win. Anything short of that is not good enough."

That's the bottom line for all these guys. They have to win one of the next two races.

Tony Stewart, who crashed at Bristol, finished 27th and threw his helmet at Matt Kenseth's car, is 10th in the standings.

Technically, that puts him on the bubble for a points spot, but not really. He has three victories, so he would earn a wild-card spot if he fell below the top 10.

However, instead of starting the playoff tied for the top with Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski and Bristol winner Denny Hamlin, Stewart would start nine points behind them if he fell to 11th in the standings.

Stewart is 16 points ahead of Kasey Kahne, who likely is in the Chase with two victories. Edwards, who is winless, is 34 points outside of 10th.

He's not likely to make that up in two races, but one victory could place him in the Chase if the drivers with one win but still outside looking in don't win again before the Chase starts.

Edwards had the lead late in the race at Bristol, taking a chance on pit strategy to get up front and try to win, but fell back and ran out of fuel near the end and finished 22nd.

"It's all you can do is gamble like that," Edwards said afterward. "If we would have pitted when we should have pitted, we were going to run 10th or 15th anyway. I made the decision to stay out, which in hindsight was the wrong decision because we probably would have finished better. But I wanted a chance to win the race."

The biggest loser Saturday was Newman, who fell out of a Chase spot after a flat tire caused him to crash. He finished 36th and fell to 15th in the standings.

"It's just misfortune," said Tony Gibson, Newman's crew chief. "But we can't let this get us down. We've seen how one race can change this whole deal on who makes the Chase. We're not giving up. We'll fight to the bitter end."

The week's playoff-spot winner was Kyle Busch, whose sixth-place finish enabled him to regain the 12th playoff position for now.

"We had a Camry capable of getting a better finish tonight," Busch said. "We fought hard and did all we could. It was just a fight for the top."

And it's still a six-man fight for a Chase spot (one inside and five outside) with two more chances to win and get in.

David Newton column | Live! rewind | Recap | Results | Highlights

Nationwide Series: Bumping and banging back at Bristol

You had to know there was hope for the new Bristol when Trevor Bayne, the consummate Boy Scout kind of guy, got angry during the Nationwide race.

Joey Logano won at Bristol for the first time, but the real story was how the race had some old-style Bristol bumping, banging and tempers flaring, which most fans say they want to see.

Bayne had words with Austin Dillon after the race. Their cars made contact during the race, causing Bayne to wreck late in the event.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ran into the back of Elliott Sadler's car at the end of the race. Those two drivers are battling for the championship. Stenhouse talked to Sadler about it on pit road afterward, saying he didn't mean to do it. Sadler leads Stenhouse by 19 points in the standings.

Logano has a series-best six victories in only 15 starts, giving the Cup regulars a 12-11 lead over the non-Cup regulars in 2012 Nationwide races.

Danica Patrick had one of her best efforts of the season with a ninth-place finish after starting 34th.

Recap | Results | Highlights

Camping World Truck Series: Peters untouchable at Thunder Valley

Many people started doubting the success of the track changes at Bristol after Timothy Peters led every lap of the Camping World Truck Series race Wednesday night.

Peters just had one of those nights with a machine that outclassed the field, but it led to talk on Twitter and elsewhere that the grinding process on the top lane hadn't produced the results most fans wanted.

Track owner Bruton Smith asked everyone to reserve judgment until the rest of the weekend unfolded. And he was right, but maybe for the wrong reason. The top lane was surprisingly fast and the lower lane was slow, but it all worked out for the best.

Peters increased his lead in the Truck series standings to 17 points over James Buescher and 25 points over rookie Ty Dillon.

Recap | Results

Terry Blount is a senior writer for ESPN.com. He can be reached at terry@blountspeak.com.


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