By admin | March 25, 2009
By Richard Allen
On Sunday in Bristol, the guy who sat beside me rarely sat as he seemed more concerned with texting people behind him and then waving his arms until those people finally saw him. And, the kid sitting behind me constantly kicked the back of my seat. Unfortunately, neither of those things was the most annoying about my day in Bristol.
The worst thing about the day was the race itself.
Over the last few weeks local radio and television stations have bombarded those of us in east Tennessee with advertisements from the Bristol Motor Speedway to announce that for the first time in years tickets were available for a Sprint Cup race. Well, if Sunday’s Food City 500 was any indication, the track had better plan on running those same ads again in August.
This track has caused the NASCAR vernacular to change over the years. Some of the words created for the high banked speedway can be repeated here and some can not.
One of those terms is the ‘Bristol Bump’. It describes a move in which one driver who is trailing behind another driver gives the lead driver a nudge to open the way for a pass.
This past weekend the ‘Bristol Bump’ was replaced by ‘Bristol Boring’. To say the least, the race was a bit eventless.
I am not one who wants there to be a crash every other lap. I just want to see close, competitive racing which may involve a little fender banging now and then. Somehow, the track, or the drivers, or NASCAR figured a way to get 43 cars onto a high banked half-mile track and yet have them not get close enough to each other to doing any serious racing.
Perhaps it was Kyle Busch’s dominance. Perhaps it was the progressive banking and resurfacing that was done on the track a couple of years ago. Perhaps it was the Car of Tomorrow. Or, perhaps it was some combination of all of those things. Whatever, ‘it’ was didn’t provide for a very good show.
By leading 378 laps, Kyle Busch did completely dominate the race. Sometimes one driver and his team does just hit the right combination and crush the competition.
Many blame the changes made to the track in the summer of 2007. Since the track was resurfaced and progressive banking was installed, the number of cautions and lead changes has dropped dramatically. Over the last four races since the resurfacing there have been an average of nine cautions per race. In the five races prior to those changes there was an average of just over 14 cautions per race. The number of lead changes per race has undergone similar reductions.
Many race fans like to place the blame for poor racing on the Car of Tomorrow. While the new car certainly plays a role on larger tracks, aerodynamics and other changes involved in making cars handle may not necessarily apply on such a short track.
Whatever the case, the racing in the 2009 Food City 500 lacked excitement. There was no ‘Bristol Bump’ because the cars rarely got close enough to one another to need such a maneuver. Hopefully, ‘Bristol Boring’ will be short lived.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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