Here are three storylines from Saturday night’s NASCAR race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

1.      The verdict on the “new” Bristol is….. All the talk going into the race was about the recently-changed configuration of the half-mile track.  After the March race, owner Bruton Smith ordered a grinding of the top groove, in an attempt to create more action and, more importantly, boost attendance.  There was certainly plenty of beating, banging and crashing – leading to 13 cautions.  Will the fans start packing Bristol again after Saturday night?  Stay tuned.

2.      The great helmet throw of 2012.  This was fun to watch, although Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth probably won’t be sending each other Christmas cards in a few months.  While battling for the lead, the 14 and 17 wrecked.  Stewart got out of his car, and threw his helmet right into the front of Kenseth’s machine, then tried to fire up the crowd.  After the race, Stewart said he plans to wreck Kenseth every chance he gets for the rest of the year.  Dear NASCAR: please don’t do anything to calm down this simmering feud.

3.      Hamlin in great shape.  When all of the beating and banging was done, it was Denny Hamlin driving his No. 11 car to Victory Lane.  It was his third win of the season (he also won at Phoenix and Kansas) and his first career win at Bristol.  When the Chase begins, the seeds are set by number of wins.  Right now, Hamlin, Stewart, Jimmie Johnson and Brad Keselowski are tied at the top.

tony-stewart-motions-to-the-crowd-after-throwing-his-helmet-at-matt-kenseths-car

Tony Stewart attempts to fire up the Bristol crowd after throwing his helmet at Matt Kenseth’s car

Next weekend: they’ll be racing under the lights on Labor Day Weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.  There are only two races left before the Chase.

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