NASCAR's concrete coliseum is back to normal for Sunday's race at Bristol. Drivers welcome the move – The Associated Press

5 minutes, 49 seconds Read

Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.
NASCAR Cup Series driver Ty Gibbs (54), left, and Denny Hamlin (11), right, start off the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Phoenix Raceway, Sunday, March 10, 2024, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)
Ryan Blaney (12) drives during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Sunday, March 3, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Ian Maule)
Kyle Larson (izquierda adelante) levanta el trofeo luego de ganar la carrera del Nascar Cup Series en el Las Vegas Motor Speedway, el domingo 3 de marzo de 2024, en Las Vegas. (AP Foto/Ian Maule)
From front to back, Denny Hamlin leads Chase Elliott, William Byron and Carson Hocevar during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Phoenix Raceway, Sunday, March 10, 2024, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)
Smoke come out of the front of Austin Cindric’s car during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Phoenix Raceway, Sunday, March 10, 2024, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)
NASCAR Cup Series driver Ty Gibbs (54), left, and Denny Hamlin (11), right, start off the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Phoenix Raceway, Sunday, March 10, 2024, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)
NASCAR Cup Series driver Ty Gibbs (54), left, and Denny Hamlin (11), right, start off the NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Phoenix Raceway, Sunday, March 10, 2024, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)
Ryan Blaney (12) drives during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Sunday, March 3, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Ian Maule)
Ryan Blaney (12) drives during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Sunday, March 3, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Ian Maule)
Kyle Larson (izquierda adelante) levanta el trofeo luego de ganar la carrera del Nascar Cup Series en el Las Vegas Motor Speedway, el domingo 3 de marzo de 2024, en Las Vegas. (AP Foto/Ian Maule)
Kyle Larson (izquierda adelante) levanta el trofeo luego de ganar la carrera del Nascar Cup Series en el Las Vegas Motor Speedway, el domingo 3 de marzo de 2024, en Las Vegas. (AP Foto/Ian Maule)
From front to back, Denny Hamlin leads Chase Elliott, William Byron and Carson Hocevar during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Phoenix Raceway, Sunday, March 10, 2024, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)
From front to back, Denny Hamlin leads Chase Elliott, William Byron and Carson Hocevar during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Phoenix Raceway, Sunday, March 10, 2024, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)
Smoke come out of the front of Austin Cindric’s car during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Phoenix Raceway, Sunday, March 10, 2024, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)
Smoke come out of the front of Austin Cindric’s car during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race at Phoenix Raceway, Sunday, March 10, 2024, in Avondale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darryl Webb)
Bristol Motor Speedway has ditched the dirt and is back to being a concrete coliseum for its annual spring race.
The famed short track added red clay each of the last three years for its first of two events. Reviews were mixed, and as the novelty wore off, sub-par racing inside the 0.533-mile bullring overshadowed any excitement that came with the Cup Series running on dirt for the first time since 1970.
NASCAR responded with a return to normal, and several drivers welcomed the move.
“Even growing up on dirt, I prefer the high banks on the concrete,” Hendrick Motorsports driver Kyle Larson said. “It’s one of the coolest places to race at, and I have had a lot of success there. I’m hoping for another great result this weekend.”
Added teammate William Byron: “The dirt was cool, but I think it had its time. The concrete track always puts on a good race, and selfishly, we run better on the concrete.”
Officials hope the spring race Sunday will harken to Bristol’s 1990s heyday, when the track was one of the toughest tickets in sports. Bristol boasted a 55-race sellout streak from 1982 through 2010, with the short-track racing providing plenty of heated exchanges and memorable moments.
Racing diehards won’t soon forget Kevin Harvick and Chase Elliott feuding at the track in 2021 or Tony Stewart throwing his helmet in 2012 or Dale Earnhardt spinning out Terry Labonte in 1999 while attempting to “rattle his cage.” That kind of drama is hard to find on a regular basis at any track, and NASCAR surely would like more.

Finding the right combination for the “Next Gen” car could be key. The latest iteration has been less than ideal on short tracks in its two years of existence. The sanctioning body tested a new rules package at Phoenix Raceway in December that showed promise but hardly provided a quick fix.
“NASCAR threw the kitchen sink at it in Phoenix and the consensus was, ‘Eh, maybe a couple things might have helped,’” said David Wilson, president of Toyota Racing Development. “Unfortunately, with technologies in aerodynamics, there is no silver bullet. There is no magic that’s going to be a cure-all, because you may fix one thing but then you’ve created a problem somewhere else.”
So Sunday’s race will be a throwback of sorts and a glimpse into what’s to come at short tracks in the next month; NASCAR holds Cup races at fellow short tracks Richmond Raceway (March 31) and Martinsville Speedway (April 7).
“Honestly, I didn’t really have any huge feelings toward (dirt racing) either way,” defending series champion Ryan Blaney said. “I enjoyed the dirt race, and I thought every year it got better. The first year the track wasn’t very good. The second year it got better. And then last year I thought the track was awesome. It was very racy, very slick from top to bottom. You could have options and lanes, but it’s good.
“Maybe in a few years you could throw dirt on it again, but I had no big feelings about it either way.”
NASCAR has taken steps toward making sure Bristol has several lanes of racing by putting down a resin-based traction compound through the turns near the inside portion of the oval.
“It’s just a fun track, honestly,” RFK racing’s Chris Buescher said. “I’ve loved where the surface has gone. I’d love to see the bottom and top have equal opportunities to make speed and make passes. I think that the top is probably a little bit more dominant in its most natural state, but some of the stuff that they’ve done seems to have helped the bottom have that little bit of grip when needed to make some passes.
“So, to me, it’s the most fun track we go to. I feel like it gives us options. It may not be very wide to start, but it always finds its way to move around and be able to make some two- or three-wide moves throughout the race and put on a good show.”
AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing
Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply