It’s the last great coliseum in sports and the best description I have ever heard it is “like flying fighter jets in a gymnasium.” Yep it’s that time..NASCAR’s at Bristol baby!
If you have never been to the Bristol night race, it absolutely should be on every fans bucket list. It’s hard to describe the feeling of 150,000 people right on top of the track as the cars go around like a conveyer belt, bumping and banging. And it’s loud, man is it loud.
“I think Bristol Motor Speedway is such a unique race track,” said AJ Allmendinger. “I love the Bristol night race so much because there is such great energy. It is summer night racing at its finest. It’s what the sport was based off of. “
Short track racing always brings out the short tempers of drivers, so this will be the first big test of NASCAR’s enhanced enforcement of the stay in your car rule. Some of the great driver post-accident temper tantrums have happened in Bristol, and a large portion during the night race. With all the beating and banging, it just been part of the show.
“Bristol is one of those tracks that I get a little extra pumped up for,” said Kurt Busch. “For me, I think that feeling gets a little stronger when you’re talking about the night race at Bristol. There’s just something special about that race. I knew it before I ever made it to the big-league level of the Sprint Cup Series but, the first time I was able to experience the night race as a competitor, it’s almost indescribable. It’s a place that gives you a big adrenaline rush. You can literally feel the energy around the track from the competitors and the fans that are just excited for 500 laps of racing at Bristol. There’s really nothing quite like it.”
Bristol is the kind of track where drivers seem to win in bunches. There are 12 different winners in Saturday night’s field, and half have multiple wins there. Winners include; Jeff Gordon(5), Kurt Busch (5), Kyle Busch (5), Carl Edwards (3), Matt Kenseth (3), Brad Keselowski (2), Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton, Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin, and Kasey Kahne.
“It’s a fun place to race. It’s been a place where we’ve had a lot of success,” said Harvick. “And, sometimes you go there and you have no success because you run into something. It’s kind of feast or famine as you go there and that’s kind of where we are at right now in this point of our season. We want to win races and really nothing else matters at this point except for wins. Hopefully when we go back to Bristol we will be on the right side of having some success.”
Harvick will be in the right place for that Saturday night, as he will lead the field to the green from the pole. Gordon, Edwards, Kyle Busch and Joey Logano round out the top five.
Expect speeds to be fast, at least by Bristol standards, Adding one more wrinkle to this always entertaining race.
"The speeds at Bristol are so much greater than they used to be,” said Ryan Newman. “It used to be where they would fall off two, three or four seconds a run while fighting forward drive. Now it's not so much that, so it's pretty intense both mentally and physically."
The green flag is set to drop at around 6:40pm central time. Kansas native Clint Bowyer starts 14th. He is one of a number of drivers that will be trying to grab a victory before the Chase for the Championship begins in three weeks.
“We go to the track every weekend looking to win,” said Bowyer’s crew chief Brian Pattie. “That doesn’t change. But we’re not going to be stupid. If we have a chance to win we will go for it, of course, but we aren’t going to do something to jeopardize a good finish. We just need to stay focused on what we need to do to get a finish and if a win is in reach we will go for it.”