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Bristol perfect NASCAR party for 170,000

Aug 19, 2008 6:53 PM

Finish Line by Micah Roberts | The biggest block party in history is taking place this week in Thunder Valley when theyll be overflowing off of Highway 394 into Bristol Motor Speedway for the annual NASCAR race under the lights.

Throughout the entire area, there are several parties happening. Should you not come as prepared as many do with all the fixings, most of the folks will welcome you into their area like youve been friends for years. The smoke BBQ fills the air, the Ice chests are filled with the coldest cocktails, and you sing "Rocky Top" in unison in what has to be the greatest party man has ever known.

The party and celebration is simply because there may be no better entertainment in the world for some of these folks and theyre darn happy about having a ticket to get in. So why not celebrate and be thankful?

Truth is, the Bristol night race is the most sought-after ticket in NASCAR. It is one of those races thats always sold out and those who have tickets arent too easily bought out. In comparison, perhaps a Yankees-Red Sox game could compare, but they play 22 times. The Bristol night race is once a year and only 170,000 lucky people can go.

They ran the spring race in Bristol back in March. It was a day race, which normally keeps the tempers and aggressiveness of the drivers to a minimum, but this year some let it fly in that race and it turned out to be pretty good TV.

The night race traditionally has evoked battles, fights, and rivalries with some drivers that last forever. Grudges are held and kept throughout some drivers careers just because of happenings at the track.

The layout of the track can be noted as the culprit, or instigator. The track is a half-mile, but because of the banking, its the fastest half-mile track in the world. When you get all these drivers bunched together where there is only a small window for making passes, road rage takes over.

The night race only magnifies it. Not sure if they get their juices flowing a little more at night, if its the moon, or if they want to show that prime-time audience at home a good show. It may be a little bit of all three, but whatever it is, its definitely worthy of a great party, with BBQ and singing.

In the March race, all three Childress cars finished in the top 3 with Jeff Burton winning. That race went into six laps of overtime which essentially cost the race for Denny Hamlin. Unfortunately for Hamlin, Burton had much fresher tires and took him on the re-start where Hamlin was a sitting duck.

The main fireworks occurred when Kevin Harvick, who finished second, punted Tony Stewart, who was in second with two laps to go and caused the caution, which ultimately caused Hamlin to lose.

In that race, the Gibbs tandem of Stewart and Hamlin led 365 of the 506 laps run. Jeff Burton led just two laps and it was the only time he led all day.

Its possible that we may see the same drivers competing for a win again this week, but I wouldnt expect Stewart to sit and wait to be punted again. I believe Stewart will come up with his first win of the season it will be him doing the punting.

Harvick and Stewart call themselves friends. After they mixed it up in that race, both took the blame. But I think Stewart has a different perspective on it after watching the replay. Because of Harvicks great career record at Bristol it is likely that hell be in a position where Stewart just may be able to exact some revenge.

Clint Bowyer led 81 laps in the March race and was our pick to win the race at 25-1. He finished third for the second consecutive Bristol race, but wasnt good at the end of the race. The team is really struggling right now and getting back into that chassis that has been so good for the last two seasons. No more surprises with Bowyer however. His odds will be in the 15-1 range.


David Ragan made his most serious charge toward a Chase berth with a third-place finish at Michigan. Hes tied with Clint Bowyer, 26 points behind 12th-place Denny Hamlin and 82 in back of ninth place Jeff Gordon.
With his second-place finish at Michigan, Kyle Busch became the first driver to clinch a berth in the Chase.

Its the 30th anniversary of the first Bristol night race in 1978. A member of the Guinness Book of World Records will be on hand to document the largest fan wave (170,000) in sports history. This will be the 53rd consecutive Bristol sellout.

Chase scenarios

Carl Edwards can lose 108 points to Clint Bowyer/David Ragan and still clinch a spot. He can also clinch a spot by: finishing 25th or better, 27th and have at least one lap led, 30th and lead most laps.

Jimmie Johnson can lose 27 points to Bowyer/Ragan and still clinch. He can also clinch by: finishing second or better, third and have at least one lap led, fifth and lead most laps.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. needs to "out-point" Bowyer/Ragan by 16 points. But, regardless of a Bowyer/Ragan finish, Earnhardt can clinch if he wins and leads the most laps.

Jeff Burton needs to "out-point" Bowyer/Ragan by 20. But, regardless of a Bowyer/Ragan finish, Burton can clinch if he wins and leads the most laps.

Micah Roberts has been a race and sports director at Station Casinos, who has contributed to GamingToday for the last 11 years.

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Tony Stewart
Kevin Harvick
Denny Hamlin
Clint Bowyer
Greg Biffle


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