NASCAR's New Rivalry

Through its 60 year history, NASCAR has had rivalries that have helped shape the sport.  Recently though, there has been a search for the next rivalry.  It looks like we have it now.  It should be no surprise that it involves the two top drivers in the sport.  It came to a head at, where else, Bristol.

In sports, there aren't many things quite like a rivalry.  It's a part of the fabric of the game that grabs the interest of the fans.  Baseball has Red Sox/Yankees.  The NFL has the Cowboys/Redskins.  College football has Alabama/Auburn and Michigan/Ohio State while college basketball claims North Carolina/Duke.  NASCAR has had its rivalries as well.  Petty/Pearson in the 1970's and Earnhardt/Waltrip in the 1980's.  Now, the sport looks like it has a new one.

Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards had not shown much in the way of hostility this season.  Until now.

Like they had just about all season, Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards were ahead of the pack.  Busch basically dominated the Sharpie 500.  He led 415 of the 500 laps.  Busch was able to hold off every charge from Edwards for much of the night.  That was until the last restart.  Edwards was able to stay with Busch after the final caution.  Then with 30 laps to go, Edwards used a "bump and run" to get by Busch.  Kyle tried the move himself, but was not able to get back around.  The battle between the two allowed Denny Hamlim to join the two leaders.  While Busch was holding off Hamlin, Edwards was able to drive away to take the win.  It was his sixth win of the season.  Busch had to settle for second with Hamlin third. 

Then things got interesting.

As ESPN was showing Edwards on the in-car camera talking to his crew, Busch pulled along side and drove his car into the side.  After Busch got in front of him, Edwards then turned him around on the back stretch, which brought the sellout crowd to their feet cheering.  Busch blasted the move and said that if Edwards wants to race that way, then they'll do that.  Edwards didn't deny hitting him at all, pointing at a past Nationwide Series race when Busch did the same to him.

Also of note, both drivers became the first to clinch spots in The Chase.  For the sixth straight Bristol race, the driver who led the most laps failed to win.

There were eight cautions for 56 laps.  One caution had a major effect on the point standings and the race for The Chase.  The third caution came out on lap 217 when Michael Waltrip and Casey Mears made contact, then claiming Sam Hornish Jr., Reed Sorenson, and Chase contenders Clint Bowyer and Kasey Kahne.  Bowyer let his frustration known at Michael Waltrip on the radio calling him the worst driver ever.  But, Casey Mears placed blame on his spotter, who told him that he was clear of Waltrip.  Bowyer made contact with the wall, causing damage that might have cost him a good finish and hurting his Chase position.  But, he was able to recover and finish seventh.  He has the last spot in The Chase with two races left before it begins.  In the wreck, Kasey Kahne's Chase chances took a major hit.  He was never able to get back into the race.  Kahne finished 40th for the second straight week.  He fell three spots in the points to 14th, now 56 behind Bowyer.

Two drivers in Chase contention needed good finishes and both got what they needed.  Kevin Harvick finished fourth with Jeff Gordon fifth.  Harvick is eighth in the points (117 points ahead of Bowyer) and Gordon is ninth (96 ahead of Bowyer).  Ryan Newman finished in sixth.  Rounding out the top ten were Tony Stewart (8th), Matt Kenseth (9th) and David Ragan.  For Ragan, he stands 13th in the points, just 12 behind Clint Bowyer.

Other notable finishes were Greg Biffle in 11th, Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 18th, Bill Elliott (who started 5th) in 26th, Jimmie Johnson in 33rd, and after a wreck, Jeff Burton finished 42nd.

For Labor Day Weekend, The Truck Series and Nationwide Series will race Saturday.  The trucks will race at Gateway International Raceway and the Nationwide drivers will be at the California Speedway under the lights.  The Sprint Cup will race in the Pepsi 500 at California Sunday night.

By:  CrimsonCowboy

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