Kyle Busch has three races remaining to claim a spot in the 12-driver Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
Under normal circumstances, his chances would be good heading into tonight’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tenn. Busch, after all, has five Cup victories at Bristol.
But that was before track owner Bruton Smith decided grinding the race track would potentially lure fans back to the track after several years of declining attendance. Asked Friday what he thought of the changes, Busch offered a succinct assessment.
“Terrible,” he said.
He was one of the few drivers with a strong opinion after two Friday practice sessions. Qualifying was washed out by rain, and Casey Mears and Brad Keselowski will start on the front row because the field was set by practice times. Keselowski has won the last two Cup races at the track.
Smith had the top lane ground down in an effort to eliminate the two-wide racing that fans believed ruined the product.
Logano wins at Bristol
Joey Logano used an early pit stop and a dominant car Friday night to win at Bristol Motor Speedway for the first time in the Nationwide Series.
Logano chased down Kevin Harvick, then held on over a series of late cautions for his sixth victory of the season.
Logano led 119 laps but finished fourth in March. A year ago, he was second after leading 12 laps.
Defending series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was second, followed by Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon and Elliott Sadler.
Danica Patrick, who struggled all day at Bristol, rebounded to finish ninth. It’s the third-best finish of her career and the fifth top-10 in Nationwide. She’ll also race in the Cup event tonight.
Jimmie Johnson said he was too frustrated to speak to reporters following his engine failure at Michigan.
The five-time NASCAR champion was leading with five laps remaining in last Sunday’s race when the engine expired in his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. He quickly left the track, and uncharacteristically did not stop to talk to the media.
The win would have given Johnson a series-best four on the season, and earned him an additional three points toward seeding in the Chase. Instead, he finished 27th and dropped from first to fourth in the standings.
“Last week with the emotion, there were so many levels of frustration that came through,” Johnson said.