Stats don't lie (unless you want)
Some nuggets from NASCAR's bureau of statistical oddity, loop data division:
• Just 82 points separate ninth-place Jeff Gordon from the Chase for the Championship cutoff of 12th with three races until the field is set Sept. 6 after the Richmond event.
• Sixth-place Tony Stewart is 162 points in front of 12th, but 161 points can be made up on one driver in a race.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. once said he would like to drive a No. 3 car in a Sprint Cup race to honor his late father, who was so connected with the iconic digit. But he figured he'd do it later in his career, perhaps after he won his own championships. Richard Childress, who won six championships with Dale Earnhardt Sr. in the No. 3 Chevrolet, has said Earnhardt Jr. or Childress' 18-year-old grandson, Austin Dillon, were the only drivers he could see ever using the number again at NASCAR's top level.
Earnhardt Jr. might want to hurry if he wants to be the first to drive a No. 3 in a Sprint Cup race since his father died on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500. Dillon makes his Nationwide Series debut Sept. 5 amid a successful campaign — including a win — in a NASCAR weekly series, where he drives a No. 3 car.
No surprise here
NASCAR's Web site, in what it calls one of "the Sprint Cup Series garage's worst-kept secrets," said Casey Mears will be announced today as the fourth driver for Richard Childress Racing beginning next season.
Edwards on pole; Reutimann at best
Carl Edwards earned his first pole position this season, turning a lap at 121.860 mph in qualifying for tonight's Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway to edge David Reutimann of Zephyrhills. Reutimann put his Toyota on the outside of Edwards' Ford on the front row, the best starting spot of his Cup career, with a lap at 121.175 mph on the 0.533-mile oval.
"I had to pedal it pretty hard coming off of Turn 2 because I got back to the gas pretty quick and it shoved the front end a little bit," he said. "All in all, it ended up being a pretty good lap."
Brad Keselowski roars back to win
Brad Keselowski passed Clint Bowyer with 24 laps to go Friday night and pulled away for his second victory of the season in NASCAR's Nationwide series, capping a remarkable run from the 37th starting position at Bristol.
Bowyer had dominated the Food City 250 after passing Dario Franchitti for the lead on Lap 107 but appeared to wiggle exiting Turn 2 on the 227th lap of 250, and Keselowski went past him.
"We were dead equal, Clint and I," Keselowski said. "I needed to catch a break, and he gave it to me."
Bowyer, who led 121 laps, finished second.