Race Weekend Central

Running Their Mouth: 2011 Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol

Best Quote

“An awesome racecar. An awesome race team. Penske Racing. The night race at Bristol! This is the race that Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt win. It’s the race of champions. I can’t believe it. There are races that pay more. There are races that might have a little more prestige, but this is the coolest damn one of them all. We won it!” – Brad Keselowski, race winner

In the month of August, Keselowski has been nothing short of remarkable. He has finished no worse than third the entire month and has not only all but locked up a wildcard slot; with the way Stewart and Clint Bowyer have been running in recent weeks, Keselowski has a decent shot to crack the top 10 in Cup points. To come from outside the top 20 in points to where he currently stands is absolutely amazing, considering his ankle and back injuries. With all these factors in play, it is safe to say the breakout star of 2011 in NASCAR’s top level has been Keselowski.

Crew Chief Quote of the Week

“I’m so proud of everyone on this team. To have three wins now in this season from where we started the year just shows all the hard work that everybody has been doing back at the shop. All these guys on the pit crew, we had the pit stop that counted tonight. They did their deal. Everybody is doing their part. We’re building fast Miller Lite Dodge Chargers and I’m just really proud of everyone on this team.” – Paul Wolfe, race-winning crew chief

Early in the season, it seemed as if the decision to bring Paul Wolfe up to the Sprint Cup level with Keselowski was a bit of a blunder. But over the course of two months, Wolfe has gone from a so-so Cup crew chief to one of the most talked-about figures in the garage area.

What he has done with Keselowski has been just astounding, and a possible spot in the top 10 in points come time for the Chase isn’t out of the question. It doesn’t hurt that Wolfe is a former NASCAR driver himself, a rare advantage over many in the garage area that have not stepped behind the wheel of a car.

Most Controversial Quote

“I don’t know what happened. I think I might have had a loose wheel or something because the car was vibrating really, really bad and it wouldn’t turn so I pitted for tires and they said they didn’t see anything wrong with them but something was wrong with the car. I don’t know what happened there. We were really loose when we unloaded off the truck and could never get it fixed.

“It is really frustrating because I run so good here and to have a car that far off and to see Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick have a night like they did doesn’t make me feel much better but you know. This tire is awful on this racetrack. The rubber it puts down just doesn’t make for good racing. It is real single file and the tire we had a couple generations before this was way better. Hopefully Goodyear will look at it and we will have something new next time.” – Greg Biffle, finished 31st

When the most controversial quote from Bristol is a remark about tires instead of having to deal with a pair of pissed-off drivers, that just shows how much Bristol has changed. And while it was baffling to see guys like Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Harvick and Stewart mired back in the pack, one has to wonder if they were all having handling issues with their cars or if there was something bigger at play, such as tires.

But Biffle does bring up a good point about Bristol becoming a single-file, “lassiez-faire” racetrack with this tire. Hopefully Goodyear can come up with a better tire that can handle side-by-side racing in the future for Bristol, but until then? Fans have to pine for the way things used to be at “The World’s Fastest Half-Mile.”

Funniest Quote

“That was a lot of work. Lots of work for a ninth place. That is a tough race right there. We had a little loose condition off the corner but I can’t thank the fans enough for coming out here. To look up in the grandstands is really cool. I hope they enjoyed the race and we will go to Atlanta now and go for a win there and try to get another few bonus points and a trophy.

“Right now I am proud to be in the Chase. That is a big accomplishment for our team. Overall we had a good performance, not a good result. We had Aflac Dental on the car and the first mission was to not knock the teeth out of the front of that paint scheme and we did that, we made it to the end. We struggled all night being loose off. I would come off the corner and have the throttle down and the rear tires would light up.

“So those long runs were very difficult. We had good pit stops and good strategy and we locked into the Chase, so that is huge. That is the first mission of the season and we accomplished that.” – Carl Edwards, finished ninth

Edwards’s night may not have been spectacular, but for a team that had been struggling in recent weeks after dominating much of the early portion of the season, a ninth place finish was exactly what the doctor ordered. He was even back to a bit more of his usual, jovial self post-race than he has been, especially after his problems last week at Michigan. Still, the fact remains that if Carl wants to be a serious Chase contender, he has got to step up his performance from here on out.

Best of the Rest

“We did what we had to do. I wish I could race harder and I wish I could do all those things, but at this point we have to have solid finishes. This is all the car would give me today. This is a step forward for this FedEx team. If we just handle business the next couple weeks then we’ll be OK.” – Denny Hamlin, finished seventh

“Off of past results this was an awesome night. With like 200 to go we were running like sixth or seventh and we were just kind of going back and forth between being too loose and too tight and we got it too tight the rest of the night. Everybody just runs the top and especially when you are tight you can’t do anything. I feel like 12th place, I am pleased with it, not thrilled but pleased with it.” – AJ Allmendinger, finished 12th

“We’re kind of confused. The first part of the race we were really loose. They got the car better and we came from the back and my car was awesome. I drove all the way up to fifth and thought this thing was good enough to win this thing. We made another run and kind of hung in there in fifth and then just got loose — just like a light switch. Then we stayed loose for another run and then just gave up our center and at the end of the race it was still loose.

“What happened when that happened? I don’t know what the deal was. We had a better car at points than where we finished. I felt like we should have finished better than where we did. Just kind of confused right now, that’s all.” – Joey Logano, finished 13th

“We’ve just struggled since we got here with our Doublemint Camry. We just didn’t quite have the balance that we were looking for the whole time. Unfortunately, we thought we were doing the right thing this morning and turns out we did the wrong things for the car for the race. Kind of a disappointing day, but proud of the guys. We never gave up, but we just never could get the car to where it would feel like it had in the past. That’s kind of what we struggled with all weekend — just not being able to get that special Bristol feel.” – Kyle Busch, finished 14th

About the author

The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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