Race Review: Sharpie 500

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Welcome race fans to Thunder Valley, home of the Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, TN. This is the 24th race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. The Sharpie 500 takes place at the World’s Fastest Half Mile, and being that this race is held at night, it’s one of the most exciting races of the year. Qualifying took place on Friday, with 5 Mark Martin grabbing the pole with a speed of 124.484. 16 Greg Biffle sits next to him on the front row.

08 past Champion Terry Labonte got in on speed. The 4 car is back with Scott Wimmer driving. Failing to make the race were 36 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Mike skinner, 13 Max Papis, 64 Mike Wallace (no Wallace will be in this race!) and 09 Aric Almirola. He did, however race on Wednesday in his 15 truck. The children of the track Outreach sang the National Anthem. I always love it when they sing. They know all the words and sing the song like it was written. Most entertainers who sing it never looked at the words or notes.

A few years ago, they repaved this .533 mile track. And made it concrete, and put in progressive banking. There is now more room to race and more grip to stay on the track. Some say they ruined it. I say they made it more raceable. You can now get by another car without crashing them out of the way. And I really don’t like all that follow the pace car racing after all the many caution flags. I like to watch racing, not bumping and crashing. So, for me, the track is better. They go around the track in less than 16 seconds. That’s “racing the way it ought’a be”.

So, here we go. 16 Biffle leads the first lap. 82 Scott Speed goes with him past 5 Martin who was on the pole. 5 and 82 battle again, and 5 takes second. The first caution comes out on lap 3 when 20 Joey Logano gets into the wall. 43 Reed Sorenson was there, where 20 wanted to be. 99 Carl Edwards battles with 24 Jeff Gordon. 11 Denny Hamlin battles 99. 00 David Reutimann and 07 Casey Mears get together. 48 Jimmy Johnson and 29 Kevin Harvick race side by side for position. 48 takes it. 88 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. gets by 07. 17 Matt Kenseth battles with 5 for second.

The second caution comes out when 11 gets a flat tire. 5 led a lap on pit road. 14 Tony Stewart stays out in front of the leader and gets waved around. However, he may not pit this caution. 16 comes out of the pits first to lead. 5 and 16 battle side by side for the lead. 2 Kurt Busch and 33 Clint Bowyer trade places. 5 takes the lead. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya and 48 get by 33. 17 and 00 battle, with 18 Kyle Busch trying to make it three wide. 24 gets by 7 Robby Gordon. 00 and 18 get by 17. 42 and 48 battle for fourth. 5 puts points leader 14 a lap down. 1 Martin Truex, Jr. is really fast on the top of the track. 5 laps 99.

The third caution comes out on lap 135 for debris. A brake rotor from 44 A. J. Allmendinger. 19 Elliott Sadler is the Lucky Dog, and gets his lap back. 14 gets held back so he can go to the back of the field for the restart. 5 chooses the outside. 48 and 2 battle for second. 48 takes the spot, and 2 takes it back.

The fourth caution comes out during the commercial. 96 Bobby Labonte spins in front of 11. 11 Denny Hamlin is the Lucky Dog and stays on the lead lap. 24 is too tight and pits. Stewart is having trouble communicating with his crew. 18 gets by brother 2 for second. 2 gets back by him by getting into him. 24 gets into 31 Jeff Burton. They are racing three wide around this tiny track! 42 and 00 battle side by side. 47 Marcos Ambrose gets by 48 for fourth. 47 gets by 18 for third. 31 battles to stay on the lead lap. 34 John Andretti gets into the wall. He broke something, and pits. Which brings on the fifth caution for debris.

5 is out of the pits first again. As the pole sitter, he had his choice of pits. And the choice is working for him. 14 still has radio problems. The crew of 2 didn’t get the tear away completely off the windshield. 1 takes second from 48. 2 and 47 battle for fourth. 2 takes it. The tear off flies off 2’s car and it goes up and up and into the fence. 48 takes the lead. 5 takes it back. He really didn’t want to let him lead because Jimmy didn’t really need the points. 24 and 11 get together. 88 gets by 24. 48 takes the lead in traffic. 83 Brian Vickers who won the last race battles to stay on the lead lap. 2 and 18 battle for third. 18 gets the spot.

The sixth caution comes out when something breaks on 71 David Gilliland’s car and he gets into the wall. 83 Brian Vickers is the Lucky Dog and is back on the lead lap. 78 Regan Smith gets waved around before the restart. 48 chooses the outside. 18 takes second from 5. 1 and 11 battle for fifth. 18 and 5 battle for second. 5 takes the spot. 39 Ryan Newman and 16 race side by side, with 39 taking the spot. 48 puts 83 back a lap down.

The seventh caution comes out for rain drops on the track with 79 to go. 83 Brian Vickers is again the Lucky Dog. 48 has lug nut issues and has to come back in to get rid of the loose tire. 55 Michael Waltrip stays out to lead. 18 goes through the middle of 55 and 39 to take the lead. 2 is having troubles.

The eighth caution comes out when 2 gets spun while racing three wide. 33 and 29 got together. 77 Sam Hornish, Jr. got into 07, when he was slowing for 33 and 29. 07 turns 2 and he spins. But there’s not too much damage. 14 is stalled on the track and the wrecker has to push him to the pits. 99 Carl Edwards is the Lucky Dog this time. 33 is pitting for repairs each time they go around. 42 is falling back.

The ninth caution comes out because 77 was spouting water from overheating, the water gets on the tires and he spins into the wall. 42 has a flat and falls way back. 17, 48 and 00 battle for seventh, eighth and ninth. The tenth caution comes out during the commercial with 20 to go. They went to a commercial with 28 to go!!! At Bristol. They couldn’t wait for the caution to come out. 1 cut a tire and got into the wall. 31 Jeff Burton is the Lucky Dog. 55 and 00, team mates, get together.

The eleventh caution comes out with 8 to go. 55 (who didn’t take tires) cuts a tire and takes 33 with him. There is a Red Flag for the clean up so they don’t run off all the laps under caution. When they get back to racing, 18 chooses the outside. 5 isn’t letting 18 run away. 5 and 18 battle for the lead.

And Kyle Busch wins the Sharpie 500. He does his donuts, gets the Checker Flag from the official, and gives it to his fan. He then gets back into the car and drives a lap backward like his brother did at Atlanta. The kid has no imagination. He copied Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s bow and now this.

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley

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