Will traditional Bristol mayhem alter Chase outlook?

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It’s probably a foregone conclusion that at least some cars will be torn up tonight as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series takes on the always-dicey Bristol Motor Speedway. The question is whether or not the championship dreams of some Chase hopefuls will suffer the same fate.

After tonight’s Irwin Tools Night Race, there will be just two events remaining before the field for NASCAR’s playoff stretch is set. One thing’s for sure: Nobody on or near the Chase “bubble” wants a season-ending setback tonight in Tennessee.

Here’s a look at who has the most to gain and lose – the drivers in the 7th to 15th place range in the Cup standings:

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (7th place, no wins; +20 points from 11th)
Last five results at Bristol: 11th, 16th, 15th, 12th, 6th.
Has not won at BMS since 2004, but has finished no worse than 18th there since 2008 night race.

Brad Keselowski (8th place, no wins; +8 points from 11th)
Last five results at Bristol: 18th, 1st, 1st, 30th, 3rd.
Interesting note from Rotoworld: Keselowski had fastest 10-lap average speed in Friday’s final practice.

Kurt Busch (9th place, no wins; +6 points from 11th)
Last five results at Bristol: 7th, 17th, 18th, 28th, 4th.
Five-time BMS winner will help Denny Hamlin lead field to the green.

Greg Biffle (10th place, one win; +4 points from 11th)
Last five results at Bristol: 8th, 31st, 13th, 19th, 11th.
Best career mark at BMS was a third-place showing in the 2005 night race.

Kasey Kahne (11th place; Wild Card, two wins)
Last five results at Bristol: 9th, 11th, 37th, 9th, 1st.
Won at BMS back in the spring and should be a threat again tonight.

Martin Truex Jr. (12th place; Wild Card, one win)
Last five results at Bristol: 17th, 2nd, 3rd, 11th, 12th.
Has not finished outside the Top 20 at BMS since the 2009 night race (22nd).

Joey Logano (13th place, one win; -7 points behind WC)
Last five results at Bristol: 23rd, 13th, 16th, 8th, 17th.
Hoping for better outcome in Bristol return following spring dust-up with Hamlin.

Jeff Gordon (14th place, no wins; -26 points behind 10th place)
Last five results at Bristol: 14th, 3rd, 35th, 3rd, 34th.
Another five-time victor at this track, but last BMS win came in 2002.

Ryan Newman (15th place, one win; -17 points behind WC)
Last five results at Bristol: 10th, 8th, 12th, 36th, 7th.
Second win this year would scramble Wild Card picture, but he has only one career Top-5 at Bristol.

Red Bull Air Race: Yoshi Muroya joins Sato as Japanese champs at Indy

Photo: Joerg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool
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Takuma Sato isn’t the only major Japanese athlete to take home top honors at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year. Countryman Yoshihide Muroya joined him in that on Sunday after winning Red Bull Air Race at IMS, and the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in the process.

Fittingly, the 101st Indianapolis 500 champion was there on site to join him in the celebration.

Muroya flew with a track-record run in the final and erased the four-point deficit to points leader Martin Sonka. The record run came after a disappointing qualifying effort of 11th in the 14-pilot field in the Master Class.

A day after the win, Muroya joined Sato in heading to Sato’s new Verizon IndyCar Series team, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s, Indianapolis-based shop.

A few social posts from Muroya’s victory and the subsequent celebration are below.

CHECKING OUT EACH OTHER’S RIDES

ASTLES BREAKS THOUGH AS WELL

Muroya wasn’t alone among big winners at the Speedway. In the Challenger Class, Melanie Astles of France became the first woman to win a major race at IMS, and is the first female winner in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.

Nine women have competed in the Indianapolis 500 (Janet Guthrie, Lyn St. James, Sarah Fisher, Danica Patrick, Milka Duno, Simona de Silvestro, Pippa Mann, Ana Beatriz, Katherine Legge) and Mann is the first woman to have been on the pole position at IMS, having done so for the Freedom 100 in 2010 in Indy Lights.

Photo: Joerg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool