NASCAR: Live from Bristol

Updated: August 23, 2013, 9:26 PM ET
ESPN.com

Crazy Friday at Bristol

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- It's been a crazy Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway, and none of it has been about the craziness of the Chase picture with three races left in the regular season.

First there was the news that Rodney Childers, the crew chief for the No. 55 at Michael Waltrip Racing, would move to Stewart-Haas Racing to work with Kevin Harvick in 2014.

Then there was SHR competition director Greg Zipadelli acknowledging the organization is moving forward with its attempt to sign 2004 Sprint Cup champion Kurt Busch and expand to four teams.

Then there was a source who told ESPN.com that Furniture Row Racing has made its initial offer to keep Busch, who is ninth in points heading into Saturday night's race (7:30 p.m. ET, ABC).

If the race is half this eventful, hang on.

One thing's for sure: There's plenty to look forward to. Eight drivers remain in contention for the final six playoff spots, and more could jump into the picture with a win.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., seemingly a lock to be in the top 10 a month ago, has gone from 62 points ahead of 11th place to 20 in the past two weeks. Without a win, his Chase hopes suddenly are in question.

Joey Logano has gone from being on the outside looking in to a legitimate Chase contender with last weekend's win at Michigan, moving him within seven points of Martin Truex Jr. for the second wild-card spot.

And he's only 17 points outside the top 10.

See? Crazy.

The question everyone wants answered is: Will this craziness spill over into the race?

"We can't race scared," Logano said. "We're coming from behind. We're not in it, so we can still race aggressive and go out there and go for wins, but we've got to be able to get the best we can out of every day no matter what."

-- David Newton

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As Denny's world turns

Bristol Motor Speedway is where Denny Hamlin's season took a turn for the worse, ironically because he turned former Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Joey Logano with 150 laps remaining.

"Well, it did," Hamlin said with a smile after winning the pole for Saturday night's race at BMS. "It did for sure."

Logano confronted Hamlin immediately after the March race at this half-mile track. The feud carried over into the next race, at Auto Club Speedway in California, where a late on-track exchange between the drivers resulted in Hamlin's car hitting an inside retaining wall.

The outcome was a back injury that sidelined Hamlin for four races and all but ended his Chase hopes.

So perhaps Bristol is where Hamlin's season will turn back around.

It can't hurt.

Hamlin's average finish over the past nine races is 27.2. He has finished no better than 18th during that span.

"It's by far the worse run of nine races of my career," said Hamlin, who will share the front row with Kurt Busch, who qualified second for the seventh time this year.

But Hamlin believes his team, unlike many, can turn things around and win at any time. Starting from the pole is the first step.

"This is a team capable of winning," Hamlin said. "We know that. We can win at any time."

-- David Newton

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Brotherly love

Ryan Truex already has instructions from his father on how to approach his Sprint Cup debut Saturday night.

"Stay the hell away from the 56," joked Martin Truex Jr., Ryan's brother and the driver of the No. 56, about what his father said.

Truex Jr. owns the second wild-card position with three races left in the regular season, but he has only a seven-point advantage over Joey Logano.

His father, Martin Truex Sr., made sure Ryan understood that earlier on Friday as he competes in the No. 51 for Phoenix Racing.

-- David Newton

Kudos to Stewart

Tony Stewart has a great opportunity to leave a legacy in sprint car racing when it comes to safety.

Mark Martin, who will replace Stewart in 12 of the final 13 Sprint Cup races for Stewart-Haas Racing, said the three-time champion is determined to make sprint cars safer so that what happened to Stewart doesn't happen to anybody else.

Basically, according to Martin, the drive shaft came through the cockpit and beat against Stewart's right leg -- breaking the tibia and fibula and severely lacerating the leg.

"He went through in great detail of how they were going to address preventing that from happening ever again in sprint car racing," Martin said.

That's a good thing.

Martin added that his new boss obviously is anxious after being basically bedridden for two weeks.

"I couldn't get a word in edgewise," Martin said of his visit with Stewart earlier in the week. "That tells you what two weeks of bed rest does for you."

-- David Newton

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Pep talk

Kurt Busch and several road crew members of the Denver-based Furniture Row Racing team got a pep talk from Broncos head coach John Fox during a recent visit to the team's NFL training camp.

"He's a fan of NASCAR and he is pulling for his hometown team and we appreciate what he had to say to us," Busch said. "He was inspiring, stressing to keep focused on the present and to execute with perfection.

"He knows what it takes to win. Those were exciting times in Charlotte when he directed the Panthers to the 2004 Super Bowl. I have a feeling the Denver football fans are going to be in for a similar treat this year."

Busch is ninth in points with an average finish of 5.0 over the last three events. His comeback this season isn't quite as big as that of Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning a year ago, but it's still impressive.

-- David Newton

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All that is left is 3

Sponsor AdvoCare reaffirmed what everyone already knew earlier this week when it announced it would sponsor Roush Fenway Racing's Trevor Bayne in the Nationwide Series in 2014.

What everybody knew is that Austin Dillon -- currently sponsored by AdvoCare in the Nationwide Series at Richard Childress Racing -- is moving to Sprint Cup next year, even though nobody at RCR will say it for certain.

"AdvoCare served as the sponsor on the No. 3 car of Austin Dillon the past two seasons," the release said. "With Dillon making the move to fulltime NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing in 2014, the organization began the process of diligently seeking out its best option moving forward."

All the release didn't confirm was that Dillon will drive the No. 3 in Cup, the first time the number has been used in NASCAR's premier series since Dale Earnhardt was killed on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500.

Stay tuned. The 3 is coming back.

-- David Newton

Another Busch sweep?

Kyle Busch made NASCAR history at Bristol in 2010, becoming the first driver to sweep the Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Truck Series races in the same week.

He has a chance to do that again this weekend with a victory in the Truck Series on Wednesday.

Would another sweep mean a lot to him? Heck, yeah.

"It's something that's never been done in the 16 years there's been three series, and it hasn't been done in the three years since I did it," Busch said.

-- David Newton

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