Nick Bromberg · Tuesday March 22, 2011
No, Bristol wasn’t boring.
Simple enough, right?
Different, yes. Boring, no. Unless you think Kyle Busch is boring. Well, maybe Kyle Busch winning five straight races at Bristol is boring, but have you seen his wedding reality special with his wife Samantha? That stuff was pure gold, Jerry. Pure freaking gold.
But it’s not like Busch dominated Sunday’s Cup race like he dominated Saturday’s Nationwide race, where he led 268 of 300 laps. Busch was challenged by Carl Edwards over the last green flag run, and while he pulled away over the final 20 laps, don’t lie. You thought that Edwards had a legitimate chance at getting the lead from Busch. (And don’t lie either, the pessimist — or optimist if you’re a No. 48 fan — in you thought that Edwards and Busch were going to do something silly and allow Jimmie Johnson to take the lead and the win.)
It’s like beating Barbaro at this point, but the progressive banking at Bristol has made it a better racetrack. Sure, it’s more fun when drivers throw their helmets at each other after getting wrecked; that’s a price I’m willing to pay, though, for three-wide racing that doesn’t stack up the entire field. Three different lines in the corners at a half-mile track is awesome. (And for those of you that miss bumper cars, just wait two weeks. Martinsville is coming soon.)
If you’re among those desperate for change, don’t hold your breath; the progressive banking isn’t going away anytime soon, even if the fans are. (I’m not going to get into that here, except to say that the dwindling Bristol attendance is a bizarre combination of factors and no one knows how those factors mix together just yet. Is the new configuration a part of that? Possibly. But is it a large part? Probably not.)
And besides, Busch going for eight in a row at Bristol in August would be one of the best storylines in the last 10 years in NASCAR. No, that’s not hyperbole. It’s not in the same stratosphere as Jimmie Johnson’s five straight titles, but it’s close and certainly higher than the level of dominance that Johnson showed at what used to be Lowe’s Motor Speedway early in the decade.
- So who’s ready to not-so-publicly believe that Carl Edwards is the title favorite? Four races isn’t enough of a sample size to make a judgment, but I’m incredibly impressed with the No. 99 this year after a first, second, second, and a pole run to comprise his 2011 season to date.
- Take a look at the standings. Most everyone is separated by a few points here and there across the board, but the chasm between the top 19 and the rest of the field is staggering. Jeff Gordon is in 19th with 104 points, while David Ragan is in 20th with 89.
- No one was legitimately expecting Trevor Bayne to light the world on fire after winning the Daytona 500, but looking at the points really makes it stand out. Bayne earned 47 points (owner points, of course) for the win at Daytona. He’s earned 38 in the last three races combined.
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