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Bristol Bout

Denny Hamlin led Joe Gibbs Racing with a seventh-place finish tonight in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway, while teammates Joey Logano and Kyle Busch would battle to finish 13th and 14th respectively.

Denny Hamlin started the No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota in the 20th position and battled his way up into the top 15 during the race’s early laps. Crew chief Mike Ford and the FedEx crew made adjustments to the No. 11 Camry with each pit stop and Hamlin would race just outside the top 10 with just over 200 laps remaining.  With Hamlin battling on lap 297, an accident in front of him would cause him to slow and the No. 27 car would drive up hard on his outside and make contact with the right rear of his car that sent him spinning down on the bottom the track. Hamlin would do a great job to save the car from any contact with the wall but damage to his right rear would need repairs. The FedEx crew was remarkable on pit road and was able to make repairs quickly to enable Hamlin to remain on the lead lap. He would restart the race in the 14th position on 310.  Another pit stop on lap 364 would allow Hamlin to start in the 10th position. He would hold that position following a final pit stop for a restart with 80 laps remaining. From there Hamlin would drive his way forward to earn a strong seventh-place finish.

Joey Logano started the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota in the ninth position and found his car loose on the exit of turns through the early going of the race. Crew chief Greg Zipadelli and The Home Depot crew would make the necessary adjustments to help Logano turn better and soon he had driven himself back into contention shortly after lap 200.  A few laps later Logano would radio in that his car had a sudden drop off in handling. He would lose several positions until he was able to make it down pit road on lap 246 for adjustments. Whatever changes his Home Depot team made sure fixed the issues as Logano returned to the track with an extremely fast race car. Over the next 50 laps Logano drove his No. 20 Camry from the 25th position up into the 12th spot.  Another round of pit stops would put Logano inside the top 10 for a restart on lap 310 and he quickly gained a few more spots to drive up into the sixth by the time the next caution came out on lap 360. When the next round of pit stops concluded Logano would find himself in the fifth position. The handle on his Camry would not be the same however and he would lose several positions. The team would make additional adjustments on a final pit stop under caution that allowed Logano to restart in 11th with 80 laps remaining. He would go on to finish the night in 13th.

Kyle Busch entered the night certainly having established his ability to perform on the famed short track after winning four of the previous five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Bristol Motor Speedway. Busch would start his No. 18 Doublemint Toyota in the 23rd position Saturday night and spend the early laps patiently climbing his way toward the top ten. He would climb inside the top 10 prior to lap 200 and eventually claim the top spot during a green flag pit cycle near the midpoint of the race. Busch would spend much of the second half of the racing battling inside the top 10 and was running in seventh when he got caught in the middle of a three-wide situation on the track and got contact from the No. 32 car. The contact would result in a right side tire going down that slid Busch up into the wall and brought out a caution on lap 413. Quick repairs by the Doublemint crew allowed Busch to remain on the lead lap and he would restart in the 17th position on lap 420. Despite some tight handling conditions on the final green flag run of the night, Busch would drive forward to finish the race in 14th.

Brad Keselowski captured the victory, while Martin Truex, Jr. was second, Jeff Gordon third, Jimmie Johnson fourth, and Jamie McMurray rounded out the top-five. There were six cautions for a total of 42 laps and 22 lead changes among 10 different drivers over the course of the 500-lap race.

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will head south to Atlanta Motor Speedway for a Sunday night race on Labor Day Weekend.  Coverage of the race will start on Sunday, September 4 at 7 PM ET on ESPN (race starts at 7:30 PM ET). The race will also be carried on Sirius Radio NASCAR channel 90 and MRN Radio.

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