|Date: Aug. 21, 2016
Event: Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race (Round 23 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (.533-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 29th/22nd (Running, completed 496 of 500 laps)
Point Standing: 23rd (432 points)
Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Chevrolet)
Danica Patrick and the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet SS team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) persevered to earn a 22nd-place finish in Sunday’s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
The 500-lap event started on Saturday night after rain delayed the originally scheduled start time for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, but after just 48 laps, persistent rain forced the event to be postponed to Sunday afternoon.
Patrick started the race from the 29th position on Saturday night, and when racing resumed on Sunday at lap 49 she was running 28th. Patrick dropped back to 35th at lap 59 as she relayed that the car had “no grip” and was tight in the center of the corner. Despite the handling issues, Patrick and the No. 10 Nature’s Bakery Chevrolet team didn’t give up and continued to make adjustments to the car throughout the event.
By the midpoint of the race she was scored 32nd, three laps down to the leader. Patrick lost another lap before the caution flag waved at lap 307, and crew chief Billy Scott called for her to stay out and take the wave-around. She was in 31st, three laps down, for the lap-316 restart. As the race progressed, Patrick managed to avoid a number of accidents and got back inside the top-20. Scott once again had Patrick stay out to take the wave-around in the late stages of the race, and in the closing laps she was able to advance to the 22nd position.
“We just got off to a slow start and got ourselves in a hole right off the bat,” Patrick said. “I’m proud of my Nature’s Bakery team for working hard and not giving up today.”
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Beer Chevrolet SS, led the four-car SHR contingent Sunday at Bristol by winning the rain-postponed Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race. It was the 34th points-paying Sprint Cup Series victory for SHR since its inception in 2009 and the organization’s fourth this season. It was SHR’s first win at Bristol.
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 30th after having to go behind the wall to repair a broken right-rear wheel hub.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 38th after an accident on lap 373 put him out of the race.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished 1.933 seconds behind Harvick in the runner-up spot, while Denny Hamlin, Austin Dillon and Chris Buescher rounded out the top-five. Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson, Jamie McMurray, AJ Allmendinger and Joey Logano comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were nine caution periods for 106 laps, with four drivers failing to finish the 500-lap race.
With round 23 of 36 complete, Harvick leads SHR and the series in the championship standings. He is first with 762 points, 27 ahead of second-place Brad Keselowski. Busch is third with 692 points, 70 behind Harvick. Patrick is 23rd with 432 points, 117 ahead of 31st-place David Ragan. Stewart is 27th with 400 points, 85 ahead of 31st.
Harvick, Busch and Stewart are all eligible to compete in the 16-driver, 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, which begins after the Sept. 10 race at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. All have won a race this season and are among the top-30 in points, the two requirements necessary to secure a spot in the Chase. Patrick can also earn a Chase berth by winning a race and staying inside the top-30. Three races remain before the Chase begins Sept. 18 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Pure Michigan 400 on Saturday, Aug. 28, at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. The race begins at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!