After Bruton Smith made changes to Bristol Motor Speedway to bring back "Old Bristol," nobody knew what to expect. Nobody knew who would run well, what lane would be fastest, if there would be side-by-side racing or if there would be a lot of cautions.
But after the Nationwide Series race Friday night, everybody learned a lot.
The outside lane is still the preferred groove, but it's now a few feet farther from the wall than back in March. There was still a lot of side-by-side racing, though there were quite a few crashes as well. And Joey Logano still is really fast there in the Nationwide Series.
Logano lost this race one year ago to Kyle Busch by mere inches, and hasn't finished lower than fifth at Bristol in the last four races including Friday night.
Logano made sure that tonight he would make up for losing this race last year, and he did just that.
Logano started up front and stayed there most of the race, leading a race high 81 laps. Though the outside line was the preferred line, Logano did most of his passing in the inside lane and appeared to be the only car that was able to make the inside work.
The win is Logano's sixth of the season, a new personal best for Logano in the Nationwide Series. His previous season high was five wins in 2009 when he was just 19 years old.
The crashing started early and continued throughout most of the race. It began when Austin Dillon got loose underneath Justin Allgaier only five laps into the race. Dillon made contact with Allgaier and Allgaier ended up in the wall. Clearly angry, Allgaier tried to catch back up to Dillon under caution, but only caused his own car more harm when he got too high and backed the car into the fence a second time. Allgaier finished 30th, eight laps down. Dillon finished fourth.
10 laps later Brian Scott got loose underneath Brad Keselowski and spun Keselowski around. Keselowski nosed it into the wall just slightly, but the damage was enough to keep Keselowski from contending for the win. He finished 32nd, 24 laps down.
Just a few laps after the ensuing restart Scott got turned around exiting turn two by Kyle Busch. Scott nosed it into the inside wall hard. Though the damage wasn't enough to keep Scott from returning, the team had to make extensive repairs just to ride around and salvage points. Scott finished 34th, 52 laps down.
Danica Patrick said before the race that her goal was to finish the race. Her day started off badly when she spun in qualifying, but she was able to keep it off the wall and free of damage. The spin resulted in her starting the race 34th, but she was able to make her way through the field quickly to get near the top 10. With about 60 laps remaining Patrick was penalized for speeding on pit road under caution. She restarted in 18th, but at the tail end of the field. She made her way back through the field and finished ninth.
It was an interesting night for the championship contenders. Austin Dillon's race got off to a rocky start when he made contact with Allgaier. However, Allgaier would not be the only driver angry with Dillon at the end of the race. On the second to last restart with 15 laps remaining, Dillon got loose underneath 2011 Daytona 500 winner, Trevor Bayne. Bayne crowded Dillon in the next corner and got Dillon loose again. This time the two made contact that resulted in Bayne backing into the wall hard. Kasey Kahne was also involved.
Dillon, however, was able to quickly rebound and managed to finish fourth. Dillon leaves Bristol fourth in points as well, 35 points behind leader Elliott Sadler.
Sam Hornish Jr. entered the race third in points and will leave Bristol third in points, but he also had an eventful night. While battling with Patrick late in the race, Hornish ran too high on the track and got loose. He pancaked the right side of the car on the wall, but was still able to finish 10th. Hornish is now 28 points behind Sadler.
Sadler and Stenhouse also had a run-in late in the race. On the final restart Sadler was able to clear Stenhouse for second, but coming to take the white flag Stenhouse bumped Sadler and almost put him in the wall. Sadler dropped from second to fifth, but was displeased with Stenhouse. When asked by ESPN if Stenhouse racing that way "Opened the door for you (Sadler) to race him that way," Sadler said, "Definitely."
Sadler still leads Stenhouse by 19 points.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Sam Hornish Jr.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. -19
Sam Hornish Jr. -28
Austin Dillon -35