Saturday night’s race was an event Mother Nature presumably never wanted to see happen.
Not only did she force NASCAR executives to postpone Bristol Motor Speedway’s popular Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race to Sunday afternoon, she forced the 1 p.m. ET restart to be delayed several hours.
Because of the delayed restart, the race was able to finish under the lights … as originally planned for Saturday night.
For the first 70 percent of the race it looked like it was Kyle Busch versus the rest of the field. Through the first 350 laps of the scheduled 500 laps, the Las Vegas native led 256 laps.
Busch’s hopes for a win on Sunday evening were dashed when his No. 18 M&M’s 75th Anniversary Toyota Camry was involved in a four-car incident in Turn 2 on Lap 359. The wreck prematurely ended his and Justin Allgaier’s night.
Similarly, the wreck probably ended Ned Jarrett’s chances at securing up a win for the Celebrity Guest Pickers in last weekend’s edition of In This Corner.
All three pickers’ combined finishing positions were within six points of each other; therefore, drivers’ finishing position was of the utmost importance last weekend when it came to In This Corner.
Jarrett finished third, but could possibly have won if he had selected most any other driver outside of Busch, who finished 39th. His other other two picks, Carl Edwards and Joey Logano, finished in the top 10.
Edwards started from the pole, but didn’t lead a lap until Lap 161. He led three times for a total of 31 laps and finished sixth. Logano led twice for 38 laps and finished 10th.
Jarrett’s stable of three drivers netted him a combined finishing position of 55.
The combined points of Alex Pohlman’s three drivers was 53. Her highest-finishing driver was Jimmie Johnson in seventh. Johnson, along with another of Alex’s picks Chase Elliott, was caught up in a 11-car accident on the frontstretch on Lap 374. Elliott led 14 laps in the very early stages of the race and finished 15th.
Where she led her team astray was with the third pick. Clint Bowyer ran in the 30s for most of the race in his No. 15 5-hour Energy Chevrolet SS and finished 31st.
With Matt Kenseth’s 37th-place showing, you might expect that John Farrell finished behind Alex and Ned. His three picks, however, managed to combine for a weekend-low 49 points. Of course, it helps when you have race winner Kevin Harvick and 11th-place finisher Jeff Gordon among your three picks.
Harvick won the race by 1.933 seconds over runner-up driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Harvick led the race for 128 trips around the short track, including the final 71 circuits. Gordon, who once again was filling in for the injured Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS, finished where he started in 11th. Kenseth fell victim to the 11-car accident on Lap 374 that also hurt Elliott and Johnson’s chances.
The top-five finishers were Harvick, Stenhouse, Denny Hamlin, Austin Dillon and Chris Buescher. Edwards, Johnson, Jamie McMurray, AJ Allmendinger and Logano rounded out the top 10.
This weekend’s Pure Michigan 400 will take place at Michigan International Speedway, nestled in the Irish Hills. The green flag drops at 2 p.m. EST and can be seen live on NBCSN and heard on MRN/SiriusXM.
If you’re reading “In This Corner” for the first time, we’ll explain how it works. The 2016 season marks the second year our “expert” prognosticators, Alex Pohlman and John Farrell, will choose who they they think will win the upcoming race. (They’re experts only in their heads.)
Each week last season, Alex and John picked one driver they thought would win that weekend’s race. Alex based her picks on guts, while John made his picks relying on stats. It was an epic showdown of guts vs. stats. The weekly winner was determined by who chose the driver who finished better in the race.
Fore every weekly win, they received a point. In the end, Alex beat John 14-10. (The competition began with the May Dover race.)
This year, In This Corner is similar, but with some new twists added to make it more challenging and entertaining. Joining Alex and John each week will be a different guest prognosticator. In addition, instead of selecting one driver, each oracle will pick the three they think have the best shot at ending up in Victory Lane.
Whoever selects the three drivers with the lowest combined finishing position will receive the point for that weekend. For example, if Alex picks the race winner and the 20th- and 30th-place finishers, but John picks the 10th-, 15th- and 20th-place winners, John would receive the point (depending on who the celebrity guest picker selects) because his drivers’ accumulated finishing position total (45) is lower that Alex’s (51).
The celebrity guest forecaster can choose whichever three drivers he or she wants regardless of who Alex or John select. However, Alex and John can only have one pick in common.
We will keep a running tally between all three. At the end of the season, the prognosticator with the most points will be crowned the victor.
This weekend John and Alex are joined by NASCAR legend Mark Martin. After a driving career that spanned 31 years in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2017 member compiled 40 wins, seven of which came during the 1998 season. He finished second in the final points standings in five different seasons (1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2009).
Martin held the record for most wins in the NASCAR XFINITY Series with 49 until Kyle Busch broke it in 2011. With seven more wins in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, he ranks seventh all-time in combined wins in NASCAR’s three national touring series with 96.
2. Kevin Harvick: He’s always a threat to win at any race and has one of the best crews in the garage.
3. Kyle Busch: You can never count him out of winning any race.
1. Chase Elliott: Chase is looking for his first win and has been on a roll the past few races.
2. Brad Keselowski: Brad is looking to add more “Winner” stickers to him name rail and a home-state win would be just the ticket.
3. Kasey Kahne: Kasey is right outside the top 16 and needs a win to boost his championship hopes.
1. Denny Hamlin: I made this pick solely based on the fact that Denny hasn’t finished lower than ninth in the last five races … and he has two wins here.
2. Jimmie Johnson: Jimmie is strong at every track. With an average driver rating of 99.2 and one win at Michigan, he’s good here too.
3. Matt Kenseth: I went back and forth between Matt and his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Carl Edwards, but I ultimately decided to go with Matt because he has three wins in Michigan versus Carl’s two, and he won this event last season.
GUESTS — 7; ALEX — 5; JOHN — 11