BRIS­TOL

Through the gears

USA TODAY US Edition - - SPORTS -

FIRST GEAR: This is one of those crazy catch-up weeks for the NASCAR Cup Se­ries as it tries to sync up its sched­ule to end the reg­u­lar sea­son at Day­tona In­ter­na­tional Speed­way on Aug. 29. Three days af­ter rac­ing at Ken­tucky, the stock car cir­cus heads to Bris­tol Mo­tor Speed­way for Wed­nes­day’s All-Star Race, then pushes on to Texas Mo­tor Speed­way for a make-up race. The All-Star Race should be in­ter­est­ing be­cause NASCAR has aban­doned its tra­di­tional race venue (Char­lotte) and opted for the short-track mad­ness of Bris­tol Mo­tor Speed­way. This race will have a dif­fer­ent look. The car num­bers will be pushed to the rear quar­ter panel and the cars will carry glow lights un­der the body. The race win­ner earns $1 mil­lion.

SEC­OND GEAR: Jim­mie John­son was in the thick of the bat­tle for the win at Ken­tucky but was punted off the track by Brad Ke­selowski as both pushed for the check­ered flag with six laps left in the race. John­son, who had to miss the race at In­di­anapo­lis af­ter test­ing pos­i­tive for COVID-19, has not won a race since 2017. He says this will be his last year as a full-time Cup Se­ries

driver, so his at-bats are dwin­dling. Ke­selowski said he had a run on John­son on a restart and John­son tried to block him and there was con­tact. “There was kind of un­avoid­able con­tact at that time,” Ke­selowski said. “I hate that it ru­ined his day.” John­son in­di­cated he will look for Ke­selowski’s rear bumper dur­ing the All-Star Race.

THIRD GEAR: Texas Mo­tor Speed­way is invit­ing race fans to come watch its race Sun­day. Spectator at­ten­dance varies from state to state. The races at Indy and Ken­tucky had no fans. Tal­ladega let a lim­ited num­ber into the prop­erty. The All-Star Race at Bris­tol upped the fan ante to 30,000. Ac­cord­ing to the TMS web­site, there is no spectator cap in place for the race.

FOURTH GEAR: Rookie Cole Custer shocked the world when he emerged from a last-lap scrum to win at Ken­tucky. He be­came the ninth win­ner in 17 races staged to date. And he threw a wrench into the stand­ings. Custer is 20th in points, but the win guar­an­tees him a play­off berth, leav­ing only seven slots avail­able. Jim­mie John­son, who is 15th in points, now sits on the points bub­ble. – God­win Kelly

MARK HUMPHREY/ POOL PHOTO

Cole Custer cel­e­brates his first NASCAR Cup Se­ries race win Sun­day that clinched a play­off spot.

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