Tempers rise again at Bristol - NASCAR Notes by Lugnut - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

NASCAR NOTES: Tempers rise again at Bristol

Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR
Glenn Campbell - "The Lugnut Cowboy" Glenn Campbell - "The Lugnut Cowboy"

Bristol has always been known for its ability to test the emotions of race car drivers. After all, it was the place where Dale Earnhardt Sr. bounced a water bottle off Rusty Wallace's' nose. In last Sunday's Irwin Tools Race Night, it wasn't a single individual who had their emotions in an uproar, it was the entire Stewart/Haas Racing team.

In recent years, the intensity and controversy at Bristol Motor Speedway had lost some its historic luster. So much so that Speedway Owner Bruton Smith ground up the top groove in hopes of bringing back the old magic. Judging from the thirteen caution flags and rising tempers, I'd say he accomplished his goal.

The unfortunate thing, however, about the night is that SHR was on the receiving end of most of the action as all three of its teams were wrecked out of the competition.

The first to exit was Ryan Newman as he continued his struggle to get along with Juan Pablo Montoya on the race track. Newman crashed after being roughed up by Montoya early in the event. He was not available for comment but his Crew Chief Tony Gibson was.

"We had an issue with the left rear tire," said Gibson. "We would have spun out on our own eventually. Ryan didn't say anything about Montoya."

Gibson took the high road for his driver. But team owner Tony Stewart wasn't as nice once he left the event after an altercation with Matt Kenseth left Stewart's No. 14 entry all busted up in the garage. The defending champion bounced his helmet off the front of Kenseth's car as it left the pit area.

"I checked up twice to keep from running over him," said an aggravated Stewart. "I learned my lesson there. I'm going to run over him every chance I get till the end of the year."

The only hope for the SHR team was with Danica Patrick and her team. For most of the night, Patrick was simply trying to stay out of trouble and finish on the lead lap. However, with 63 laps to go, Regan Smith ended her night when he tapped her left rear quarter panel sending her No.10 car into the inside wall.

Taking a page from her team owner's book, Patrick responded by waving her finger at Smith as he passed her under caution. However, after exiting the medical center, Patrick decided to choose her words wisely in describing the altercation.

"We were racing hard," explained Patrick. "Bristol is a place where you see who's playing fair and who's not."

It was not a good night for Stewart and his teammates. However, in the grand scheme of things, all was not lost. Stewart still sits securely in the Chase while Newman remains in the hunt for the last Wild Card position. Patrick has not run a full Cup Series but, she did gain some valuable seat time as she looks ahead to a full time ride next season.

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