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Long: Three thoughts on Saturday night’s Bristol race

Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch

Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch


1 - The issue of restarts was a major topic in the drivers meeting before the race with Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin and Clint Bowyer asking questions or making comments about how NASCAR polices restarts. Whether by coincidence or an increased emphasis Saturday night, NASCAR was more vocal on the radio about drivers being aligned properly and the No. 2 starter not getting a jump on the leader. No one was penalized for jumping a restart Saturday. Still, if NASCAR is going to remain as vocal and be more strict the rest of the season, it could have an impact on races - including Chase races. This will be worth watching in the coming weeks.

2 - Maybe Jeff Gordon said all that needed to be said Friday when he stated that “we’re not where we want to be.’’ Gordon did not speak to reporters after placing 20th - a pair of green-flag pit stops within the final 100 laps doomed him. It is understandable that he would not be pleased. Still, for a driver who has been so accommodating with the media, it is telling that he preferred not to talk. With two races until the Chase, there’s still a chance - however slight - that he could miss it in his final season.

3 - Bristol just reaffirmed what we’ve seen this summer. Joe Gibbs Racing and Team Penske - the dominant cars since late May - were strong Saturday. Gibbs and Penske combined to lead all 500 laps. Kyle Busch led 192 laps, winner Joey Logano led 176 laps, Carl Edwards led 74 laps, Denny Hamlin led 54 laps and Brad Keselowski led four laps. While Kevin Harvick was good, one has to wonder when anyone else is going to challenge JGR and Penske.

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