This commentary was originally posted by NASCAR Informer on his own blog after the 2012 March Bristol race and is part two of a three-part commentary. Part one – also previously posted – was posted earlier this week . Watch for NASCAR Informer’s new third part to be published sometime after Bristol’s August Night Race, which is scheduled for this Saturday Night.
After the Bristol race discussion in March, followed by the Martinsville race in April, readers may recall my article “Martinsville Now the Most Exciting Half-Mile,” about how the 2007 repave at Bristol Motor Speedway changed the racing style on the track taking away the excitement fans enjoy and expect to see, especially at the famed Bristol half-mile.
In March this year, Bruton Smith was not happy to see fewer fans in the seats, so he invited fans to send him their feedback via email. The outcry from fans was convincing enough for Smith to vow he would bring back the “old” Bristol style of racing by making changes to the historic track.
After consulting with fans and drivers as well as contractors about how to correct the issues, it was later announced, the top groove would be ground down to decrease the banking in the turns. With the work now complete, this week three Sprint Cup drivers spent the past two days testing the new surface.
The comments of the three drivers at Bristol Motor Speedway for the Goodyear tire test were very clear on what the changes affected on the track.
Tony Stewart: “Well, you’ve definitely lost the top groove.”
Clint Bowyer: “That outside line – the upper groove – is out of play now.”
Jeff Burton: “This takes the top groove out and brings it back toward the old track.”
It looks like the changes made to Bristol took away the high groove, and that was exactly the goal of Bruton Smith. He wanted to create racing similar to the way it was before 2007 when there was only one true groove in the turns. Only time will tell if this is the case but all indications are that racing will be exactly what many fans want to see and have loved about the Bristol track.
The first true test will be later this season for the famous IRWIN Tools Night Race on August 25. Bristol Motor Speedway could be on the right path to reclaiming their reputation of being the most exciting half-mile and we will see if that is indeed the case, in a couple months!