BRISTOL — Ten drivers have a mathematical chance at clinching a spot in the Chase for the Cup playoffs after tonight’s IRWIN Tools Night race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Seven of them can secure a berth in the Chase based on points. Any driver 97 points ahead of 11th place leaving Bristol will clinch a top-10 spot.
Regardless of what any other driver does, points leader Greg Biffle will clinch with a finish of 28th. Among the other leaders, Matt Kenseth needs an eighth-place finish and Dale Earnhardt Jr. will clinch with a sixth-place finish. Jimmie Johnson will secure a spot with a win or by finishing runner-up and leading the most laps.
Brad Keselowski, Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer also can reserve spots in the Chase but it depends on how the drivers behind them finish.
Those who can clinch at least a wild card are Keselowski, Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne and Clint Bowyer. A win and Keselowski and Stewart are in. Hamlin, Kahne and Bowyer have to win on Saturday night, and get some help.
Trevor Bayne, the 2011 Daytona 500 champion, won the pole for the Food City 250 Nationwide Series race with a lap of 15.833 seconds (121.190 mph).
For the 21-year-old Knoxville driver, it was his fifth pole in 85 Nationwide Series starts and his first pole in eight races at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Bayne, driving a No. 60 Ford with a special ‘We Back Pat’ logo in support of legendary University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt, made only his sixth start in the series this season. Team owner Jack Roush suspended Bayne’s schedule earlier in the year due to a lack of sponsorship.
“I can’t smile any bigger after that,” Bayne said after winning the pole. “It feels like a win to me after being out for so long. To have this perfect storm brewing, to come back be the fastest in practice, to be on the pole, it’s an awesome feeling.”
Eventual race winner Joey Logano in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota was second-fastest with a lap of 15.846 seconds (121.090 mph). It was a reversal of the front row for the Bristol Nationwide Series race in March when Logano edged Bayne for the pole position.
It was a rough day for Danica Patrick, but a good night.
Patrick spun out coming to the green flag in qualifying for the Food City 250. She ended up 34th on the starting grid. Her luck changed in the Nationwide Series race with a ninth-place finish. The 25 positions she made up were the most of any driver in the race.
In addition, Patrick was the slowest of all 47 drivers in both Sprint Cup practice sessions. She will, however, be in tonight’s IRWIN Tools Night Race with a provisional starting spot.
Johnson City driver Brad Teague qualified 44th out of 46 drivers for the Food City 250, but started the race 41st based on owner points.
Teague finished 26th in a black No. 4 Chevrolet for South Carolina car owner Johnny Davis. The paint scheme brought back memories of another Johnson City driver, the late Connie Saylor, racing a black No. 4 for G.C. Spencer.
Teague was still running on the lead lap 50 laps into the race and finished five laps off the pace.
Billy Ogle Jr. of Knoxville edged Scott Bloomquist of Mooresburg to win Thursday’s ninth annual ‘Scorcher’ for the Lucas Oil Late Model Series at Volunteer Speedway.
Using the car of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Ty Dillon as a pick, Ogle made the winning pass on lap 46 of the 50-lap race.
Indiana driver Don O’Neal finished third. South Carolina driver Chris Madden and five-time track champion Vic Hill of Morristown rounded out the top five.
Bayne, making only his second dirt-track appearance, was involved in an accident in his B-Main and didn’t transfer to the feature.