The New? Bristol Did Not Disappoint

Denny Hamlin

(WOMR file photo)

Saturday night all of Bruton Smith’s hoopla over ‘re-configuring’ the world’s fastest half mile, better known as “thunder valley”, or Bristol Motor Speedway, came full circle.  After two distinctively different races, the Camping World Truck Series, where Timothy Peters thoroughly dominated the race from green flag to checkered, and Nationwide Series, where there were different leaders and great side-by-side racing, the definitive  answer was to unfold Saturday night when the Sprint Cup drivers took to the race track.

After Bruton Smith decided to grind down the top 8-10 feet of the outside groove, decreasing the bank angle from 30 degrees to a max of 28 degrees, in order to force a one groove race track, precipitating more beating, banging, and ultimately wrecks, Smith failed miserably!

What ultimately occurred  after the first 1/4 of the race was that the race groove moved up off the inside line, and still allowed side-by-side racing.  In fact the fastest racing groove eventually moved up right next to the outside retaining wall!

The Sprint cup race, Saturday night, was a very exciting, side-by-side, 500 lap race.  Unlike some of the race fans, who have expressed their displeasure with a race at Bristol that resembles a race, rather than a destruction derby, I found the Cup race to be a fantastic racing show!  Much like the last few races since Bruton Smith’s SMI reconfigured the track to a progressively banked race track.

Nevertheless, SMI decided that they would grind down the top 8-10 feet of the track to reduce the banking, and force a one groove race track.  By reducing the racetrack to a one groove surface, the prevailing thought was that it would produce more rooting, gouging, rubbing, banging, and wrecking.  Surprise, it did not turn the show into a destruction derby.  Oh contraire my friend, there was quite a bit of fantastic, door-handle-to-door-handle style racing Saturday night!  And yes, it was Bristol, and Bristol did produce some traditional Bristol style wrecks, bruised egos, and many lost tempers.

In the end it was Denny Hamlin who took the gold home!  It was his third win of the 2012 season, thus putting him into the driver’s seat, and tying him with Tony Stewart, Blazingly Bad Brad Keselowski, and Jimmie Johnson, for most wins of the Chase drivers.

With just two races left in “the regular season” it is time for those drivers with Chase aspirations to “let the big dog eat”, and make their move to the front!

The clock is ticking!

Check out the unofficial results of the Irwin Tools 500.

Check out the current Sprint Cup standings.


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