This Saturday night we get to see the new and improved racing at Bristol Motor Speedway’s resurfaced half-mile track.
That may sound funny because Bristol had just repaved their track in 2007 with a new progressive banking that allowed for multiple grooves. The drivers loved the racing because they weren’t all fighting for the same spot, which resulted in less banging, less crashes and less flare-ups at the end of the races. It also resulted in fewer fans.
Each ensuing year since the 2007 repave, the once-hardest ticket in the world to obtain became the easiest. The final straw for Speedway Motorsports CEO Bruton Smith came in March when the 150,000 seat facility was less than half full.
The fans had spoken to the degree of how much they disliked the multi-grooves and to his credit, Smith immediately made plans to restore the track to its old layout.
Tony Stewart was one of three drivers to test the track out in a June session and indicated things might be back to the “racing oughta-be,” as the Bristol tagline says.
“Well, you’ve definitely lost the top groove,” said Stewart. “Guys who run up there aren’t going to be able to do that because it’s pretty slick up there. There’s going to be less room to race, that’s for sure. We’ve gone from a three-groove track to two grooves and any time you’ve got less room to get around it can get pretty interesting.
“I’m one of the guys who like that high groove so it’s really going to change things up for me,” Stewart added. “It’ll change things for everybody though because when you take away room to race on a track this small with 43 cars… yeah, it’s going to tighten things up.”
With things being back to normal, we can go back to looking at a select group of drivers like we did in the past. It took a tough aggressive driver to win at Bristol who had no fear of irritating anyone. The fastest way around the track is the bottom again. If someone is slower and won’t let you pass, you make him move by all means necessary.
Kyle Busch is a five-time winner at Bristol with four coming on the surface just bulldozed out of the way. However, he did win on the old surface’s last run. Busch has that type of attitude needed to get the most out of his car and in a desperate situation needing one more win to secure his chances in the Chase. Only three races remain until the final 12 drivers will be known. The clock is ticking.
Brad Keselowski probably isn’t too happy about the changes on the track because he’s won the last two Bristol events. However, he should be in good shape because he beats and bangs with the best of them. He battles for his space on the track with the best of them and has earned all the drivers respect because of it.
Between Busch and Keselowski, they have won 6 of the past 7 Bristol races. Despite the track changes, they are the starting point this week.