Commentary

NASCAR blog from Bristol

Updated: March 22, 2009, 8:19 PM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

All times Eastern

5:10 p.m.

Kyle Busch dominates for the second straight day. Only this time, he wins.

Unlike Saturday's Nationwide Series race, when Busch's dominating day was spoiled by a late penalty on pit road, the 23-year-old cruises to victory in Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin finishes second, followed by Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne.

It is Busch's second win in the past three Cup races and the third straight win by a Busch. Brother Kurt won two weeks ago at Atlanta.

5:08 p.m.

Joey Logano blows an engine with seven laps to go. He still maintains a spot among the top 35 drivers based on owner's points at 34th, so for at least another week, the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 will not have to qualify on speed.

4:49 p.m.

Kevin Harvick, who won the Nationwide race that Kyle Busch dominated, gets into the wall with 59 laps left to bring out the caution.

Busch is leading with Jimmie Johnson second. Busch still doesn't seem happy, saying he can't get the car "to rotate."

"I don't know what to do about it," he said.

Crew chief Steve Addington tells Busch he adjusted the air pressure.

"I hope it helps," Busch said. "I wouldn't have done that."

Busch comes out of the caution with the lead, followed by Denny Hamlin and Kasey Kahne, who is coming on strong.

4:37 p.m.

Kyle Busch continues to dominate, but he's not completely satisfied. He radios crew chief Steve Addington, saying one set of tires were "magical" in the center of the corners. He seems to be doing quite well on every set, but Addington responds, "All right. We'll look through them."

4:25 p.m.

Greg Biffle is done for Sunday with an engine problem. The Roush Yates engines haven't fared well so far this season. They lost two in the third race at Vegas, which was as many as all of last season.

Engine guru Doug Yates must be perplexed.

Kyle Busch has overtaken Jimmie Johnson for the lead again. Johnson came out of the last pit stop ahead of Denny Hamlin and Johnson.

4:12 p.m.

Perfect solution to a race like this: Facebook.

Posted a picture earlier in the day of a fellow scribe who was mistaken for Kurt Busch on Saturday night at Cootie Brown's, a local joint in nearby Johnson City, Tenn.

It has gotten him a lot of ribbing Sunday, and I unfortunately have been the cause of much of it. One of the best lines of the day came when Busch's public relations guy came into the media center and asked him to go do hospitality.

Meanwhile, the other Busch -- Kyle -- continues to lead.

Wait. JGR teammate Denny Hamlin takes the lead when Busch is held up by JGR teammate Joey Logano. Caution comes out when Brian Vickers cuts a tire.

3:29 p.m.

I'm sitting below a picture of Dale Earnhardt spinning out Terry Labonte on the last lap to win the 1999 night race at Bristol.

Sure could use some of that excitement now.

Since the track was resurfaced a few years ago, the bump-and-move run hasn't been necessary to make a pass here. The result has made better side-by-side racing for the drivers, but taken away the beating and banging that fans love.

This one is turning into a snoozefest for Kyle Busch, who on caution No. 5 just said, "All I need is four tires. The car is perfect."

In days of old, if you were perfect, you finished with four tires.

Back to Earnhardt and Labonte. It wasn't a popular move for Earnhardt. Fans booed him afterward.

He didn't endear himself with his postrace comment, either, when he said, "I didn't mean to turn him around, but I wanted to rattle his cage."

Said Labonte, "He never has any intention of taking anybody out."

3:05 p.m.

Kyle Busch puts Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Joey Logano a lap down. The 18-year-old really has struggled through the first four-plus races, but it could be worse. He could have been Jamie McMurray, who on Lap 123 was spun out by Juan Pablo Montoya to bring out the fourth caution.

McMurray was running ninth when he and Montoya began a sheet-metal exchange.

Montoya receives a warning from NASCAR for rough driving. That means he'd better be careful, because the next time he'll be penalized.

2:58 p.m.

Kyle Busch, who dominated the Nationwide Series race on Saturday before a late penalty on pit road left him with a sixth-place finish, takes the lead from Jimmie Johnson.

Busch won the first race in what was then known as the Car of Tomorrow at Bristol two years ago. Despite the victory, he declared then his dislike for the new car.

Wonder what he thinks of it now?

2:49 p.m.

Caution No. 3 comes out when Todd Bodine spins out on Lap 59. Bodine had to let off the gas when Michael Waltrip came up a bit early, pinching him near the wall. Kurt Busch nipped Bodine's car, sending it into the wall.

Jimmie Johnson was first, followed by Marcos Ambrose. Neither pitted during the first two stops, choosing to stay out for track position.

Nobody said anything about Waltrip's being "the worst driver in NASCAR -- period," as Clint Bowyer did during the Bristol night race last year.

2:28 p.m.

Ryan Newman, who needs a solid finish to assure he's among the top 35 drivers guaranteed a spot in next week's race at Martinsville Speedway, takes the lead. Jimmie Johnson moves to second, and Mark Martin settles into third.

***

The first caution comes out because of a wreck by John Andretti on Lap 26.

***

The race restarts on Lap 32, and Andretti gets into the rear of Dave Blaney, spinning him out to bring out the second caution. Andretti was scheduled to get the free pass, but NASCAR ruled there would be none.

2:20 p.m.

The green flag falls. A sellout crowd -- yes, they finally sold all the tickets to extend the sellout streak to 54 consecutive races -- lets out a roar. Mark Martin leads the first lap. No, this is not the legends race, even though Martin is 50 years old.

1:53 p.m.

The lack of corporate sponsors was most evident during the drivers meeting. The small room underneath Victory Lane wasn't nearly as crowded. The upside on fewer sponsors was that the seats they normally take were sold to fans.

***

Driver introductions are taking place, but the most crowded spot is the men's restroom. I had to stand in line behind Mark Martin and Ryan Newman, and Matt Kenseth was not far behind.

1:43 p.m.

Lowe's Motor Speedway president Marcus Smith made an appearance in the garage wearing a plaid jacket with a North Carolina powder blue shirt. No word on whether there was a mistake on the report that said he didn't actually graduate from UNC, where he spent four years.

Tennessee native Sterling Marlin, the winner of Saturday night's legends race, donned a University of Tennessee sweatshirt. We know he didn't graduate from UT.

***

Race director David Hoots had a slip of the tongue during the drivers meeting, saying the event would be 500 miles instead 500 laps. After realizing the mistake, he said, "That would be a long afternoon, wouldn't it?"

Yes, it would. They would have to run 1,000 laps around the half-mile track. At the rate they wreck here, there might not be any cars at the finish.

1:23 p.m.

Robbie Loomis is back on the pit box.

The vice president for competition at Richard Petty Motorsports will serve as crew chief for Elliott Sadler after Kevin Buskirk was sent home with the flu. It will be the first time he has called the shots since he left Jeff Gordon before the 2005 Chase to join Petty Enterprises.

Loomis and Gordon won the 2001 Cup title.

"I don't like it up there," Loomis said with a laugh.

Loomis will use the time to bond with crew members, many he still is getting to know since the merger with Gillett Evernham Motorsports.

"You always talk about what a crew chief needs for his team," he said. "I'll get a feel for that today."

8:23 a.m.

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- It's isn't even 8:30 a.m., but I'm already at the infield medical center at Bristol Motor Speedway. Don't ask why. Let's just say this isn't how you want to start the day, particularly when it's cold and you haven't finished your first cup of coffee.

The physicians are very friendly, knowing this will be the least of their problems at a track where wrecks are more common than most places.

They're still thankful there weren't any serious injuries in Saturday night's legends race that featured 77-year-old Junior Johnson and others with their AARP card.

"When an 18-year-old hits the wall, it's one thing," the doctor said. "When a 70-year-old does, you don't know what's going to happen."

Hopefully, I won't be back here any time soon.

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter

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