The Frontstretch: Four Burning Questions: Bristol Blunders and Walking Away by Summer Bedgood -- Thursday August 23, 2012

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Four Burning Questions: Bristol Blunders and Walking Away

Summer Bedgood · Thursday August 23, 2012

 

Will fans be pleased regardless of how the race plays out at Bristol?

If you use Bristol’s 40% figure when they decided to reconfigure the track back to where it was before the first one, you’ll see that those fans were in the minority. Yet the track decided to spend millions of dollars to try and reverse time and get fans back in the stands.

Well if Wednesday night’s Truck Series race was any indication, it didn’t do anything like that. There was plenty of side-by-side racing to be found – heck, we even saw three wide on many occasions! At Bristol!

And yet, there were many fans still unhappy. Following along on Twitter, I saw what looked to be about half (or 40%) who were still unhappy with the racing. “It’s not short track racing!” they said. “Where is all the beating and banging?”

Yet, the other half (or, more accurately, 60%) were loving it! Sure the “bump and run” really didn’t exist as passing on the high side was still a possibility for some trucks, but the ability for them to race side by side proved to be exciting. There weren’t many cautions through the first half of the race and one driver led the whole thing, yet many fans were very happy with how the race played out.

My guess is the fan reaction will be the same regardless of how the racing is. In fact, it may be worse if, for whatever reason, the Cup race goes back to old Bristol. A straight line of cars all the way around the racetrack with passing only working with the tap of a bumper will likely be called boring. It will be “old fashioned” sure, but I guarantee the people complaining about the Truck Series race would hate the exact thing they are asking for. NASCAR really can’t win either way.

Jimmie Johnson’s refusal to talk after engine failure at Michigan took away what looked like a sure victory was uncharacteristic and it’s a safe bet after having to deal with it this week at Bristol, it probably won’t happen again.

Does Jimmie Johnson redeem himself from the “walk away” last week?

Johnson’s refusal to talk to the press after blowing the engine with five laps to go last week has even a few writers on this site giving him grief for it. If you read Mirror Driving this week, you already know my take on it.

Regardless, everyone is in agreement that this was out of character for the five-time champion. He’s always quick to give his take on something that happens and isn’t one to show much emotion—good or bad. While my guess is that his reasoning had a lot to do with his emotions at the time, well, you don’t have to hear my guess. He’ll be in the media center at 11AM on Friday and you can bet that someone will ask him about it.

I doubt Johnson will do anything like this again, barring another heart-wrenching loss. If he gets bugged about it enough this weekend, I bet that will elevate itself to “never.”

Can Keselowski, Penske Racing learn from the Hendrick Motorsports “advantage”?

Keselowski’s allegations that Hendrick Motorsports is essentially messing with the car were a little strange, and it may prompt NASCAR to make changes. However, if it prompts any changes at all, it should be with Keselowski and Penske Racing. The phrase “If you ain’t cheatin’, you ain’t tryin’” isn’t just thrown around because it sounds cool. It’s because there is some truth to it. Hendrick Motorsports isn’t just filled with talent. They are filled with very smart people who are able to push that gray area. Have you noticed that it works for them?

Keselowski has already said he considers himself to be a championship caliber driver, but they likely won’t beat the Hendrick brigade unless they try a few tricks of their own.

What can Biffle do this weekend to prove he is championship material?

Two victories right now are nice, but they won’t win him the championship. And while one more win this weekend won’t exactly convince the masses what he is capable of, it will at least show that Biffle can master consistency and victories, two key qualities that I believe the eventual champion is going to need in order to seal the deal.

A win at Bristol would also help Biffle since he isn’t exactly known as a short track driver. None of his 18 career victories have come at a track shorter than a mile in length, and only two of those were on tracks shorter than 1.5 miles. Stepping up his diversity as a driver would possibly prove he is more of a threat than he appears. Then again, Martinsville is an even bigger hurdle for him. At the end of the season, it may wind up just not being enough. Time will only tell.

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Jim
08/24/2012 02:07 AM
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Nascar won’t do a damn thing to Hendrick…but they might to Brad K. for bringing it up.

Even the mighty Smoke has been neutered.

It’s easier to smile and deposit that check. The show must go on.

Sherri T
08/24/2012 09:58 AM
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I’m really taking offense to the articles that keep referring to the “old” Bristol as “never being able to pass without using the bumper”! That’s just not true. Sure passing was more difficult, but these are supposed to be the “Big Boys” and the ones with talent, could definitely pass and walk away with a clean car at the end of the night. I think the memory of the media is very selective when it comes to the “old” Bristol.

Mike W
08/24/2012 10:41 AM
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does anyone remember the long parades of caution laps at bristol? how boring was that racing. i went in 2008 and 2009 to the august race and everywhere i looked on the track there was racing, and for long periods. i assume the concessions didn’t make as much money since the racing has changed but dang you get to see drivers racing at full speed for a majority of the race. not lap after lap of cautions. i will take this racing over single file caution laps anytime

Countray
08/24/2012 10:42 AM
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Whoever was unhappy with the truck race… were they even watching? I saw plenty of “beating and banging”. There’s a difference between beating and banging and WRECKING! I love this racing. If it was like that anywhere else we’d be ecstatic. I saw plenty of good, clean contact. Peters led every lap of that race and I DIDN’T EVEN NOTICE BECAUSE THE RACING WAS SO GOOD. People complaining about this need to go watch a Michigan race.

Old farmer
08/24/2012 11:34 AM
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Why are the media so polite when it comes to Johnson’s rebuff of them. He’s allowed to have a temper just like anyone else, unless it’s Kurt Busch, so the media think.

The media worry about JJ’ s image when he snubbed them; but if it had been KB, they’d probably be screaming for him to be thrown out of NASCAR.

The media should keep their damn microphones out of the faces of drivers who won’t—or don’t—want to talk to them at the time. They should move on to someone else and just let the missed interview go.

Old farmer
08/24/2012 11:35 AM
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Why are the media so polite when it comes to Johnson’s rebuff of the media? He’s allowed to have a temper just like anyone else, unless it’s Kurt Busch, so the media think.

The media worry about JJ’ s image when he snubbed them, but if it had been KB, they’d probably be screaming for him to be thrown out of NASCAR.

The media should keep their damn microphones out of the faces of drivers who won’t—or don’t—want to talk to them at the time. They should move on to someone else and just let the missed interview go.

wcfan
08/24/2012 12:59 PM
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Summer
These drivers Do NOT Owe the Media anything. I would much rather an Upset Driver walk away as put his foot in his mouth and then have na$car fine him.

What I find amazing about “if you ain’t cheating you ain’t trying” Is na$car seems to think only Rick Hendrick teams are smart enough to find “gray area” while everyone else is actual cheating.