We won’t say that weather owned the weekend at Bristol, we’ll just put it this way: after rain delays of nearly 24 full hours, Kevin Harvick won the race, but Mother Nature has claimed a berth in the Chase.
The Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol started 50 minutes late on Saturday night, and completed only 48 laps through two rain delays before being pushed to Sunday afternoon. Rain delayed the restart of the rain-delayed race, and with 67 laps left … you guessed it, more rain.
The result was a race that felt disjointed, lacking both consistency and momentum. And when the most dominant car in the race gave up the ghost two-thirds in, that only added to the chaos. On lap 359, some as-yet-unidentified part broke beneath Kyle Busch’s car, sending him spinning up the track. All would have been well had Justin Allgaier not piled straight into Busch, ending Kyle’s day at 256 laps led.
“The person that’s the biggest moron on the track is the spotter of the 46 and the driver of the 46,” Busch said, referencing Allgaier. “I’m wrecked half a lap and they still hit me.”
Just 15 laps later, Kurt Busch got loose from the lead, spinning and setting off a chain reaction that collected Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney, and Matt Kenseth and caused damage to Jimmie Johnson, Chase Elliott and others. Kurt Busch took full responsibility for the wreck, which brought to an end a remarkable streak of finishing every lap of every race to date this season.
Two brothers, two wrecks that completely changed the complexion of the race. With several powerful drivers sidelined, that opened a pathway for drivers like Harvick, Denny Hamlin, and Joey Logano to do battle at the front of the pack.
Shortly before the final rain delay, Harvick slipped around Hamlin for the lead, and never relinquished it. The final laps of the race set up as a possible fascinating look at future-versus-present, as Ricky Stenhouse (finished second), Austin Dillon (fourth), and Chris Buescher (fifth) tried to run down Harvick, but couldn’t ever close the gap. Hamlin’s third-place finish closed out the top five.
This marks Harvick’s second win on the season. Harvick asked team owner Tony Stewart to do dueling burnouts with him in Stewart’s final run at Bristol. Stewart finished in 30th place. His fellow legend, Jeff Gordon, retired but replacing Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the 88, finished 11th.
The series now heads to Michigan, with only three races left before the Chase.
Jay Busbee is a writer for Yahoo Sports and the author of EARNHARDT NATION, on sale now at Amazon or wherever books are sold. Contact him at [email protected] or find him on Twitter or on Facebook.