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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Voices from the Heartland: Only the Racing Has Gotten Better at Bristol

Last year about this time, I penned a column about the racing at Bristol that eventually led to the severe hair loss of several senior members of the Frontstretch editorial staff.

The problem, it seems, was my calling into question the professionalism of another journalist after he boldly proclaimed that he – and the masses of fans that attended last year’s Sharpie 500 – thought that the newly repaved surface of BMS caused some of the most boring racing he had ever seen.

My differing opinion, sparked by having been an actual part of the sweltering masses and not a member of the media that week, led to a private email exchange between said journalist and myself that resulted in the aforementioned hair loss to my editors. While I did offer a beverage to the offended journalist, he has yet to accept my offer. I suppose I should check the “born on date” on the darn thing.

At any rate, while my differing opinion has not altered in the slightest, this year I have decided to take a different approach… a more scientific one, if you will, that will let you draw your own conclusions. After reading the stats, you will have to decide for yourself whether you like racing – or a brightly-colored parade of cars that wrecks a lot.

What follows below is a statistical comparison of the last nine races at BMS. The most recent three, obviously, are since it has been re-surfaced. Key points to focus on, in my opinion, are number of cautions and laps under caution (C/L), pole speed (PS), average race speed (ARS) and margin of victory (MoV). Time of race, hours/minutes (ToR) is also listed. So, without further ado…

’08 Sharpie 500: C/L: 5-56 PS: 121.8 ARS: 91.58 MoV: 1.96 sec. ToR: 2:54

’08 Food City 500: C/L: 10-68 PS: N/A (rain) ARS: 89.77 MoV: .58 sec. ToR: 3:00

’07 Sharpie 500: C/L: 9-61 PS: 119.8 ARS: 89.00 MoV: 1.4 sec. ToR: 2:59

(Before re-surface)

’07 Food City 500: C/L: 15-90 PS: 125.4 ARS: 81.9 MoV: .064 sec. ToR: 3:16

’06 Sharpie 500: C/L: 10-62 PS: 124.9 ARS: 90.02 MoV: .591 sec. ToR: 2:57

’06 Food City 500: C/L: 18-104 PS: N/A (rain) ARS: 79.4 MoV: .179 sec. ToR: 3:21

’05 Sharpie 500: C/L: 16-88 PS: 127.3 ARS: 84.6 MoV: .511 sec. ToR: 3:08

’05 Food City 500: C/L: 14-115 PS: 127.7 ARS: 77.49 MoV: 4.65 sec. ToR: 3:26

’04 Sharpie 500: C/L: 9-63 PS: 128.52 ARS: 88.5 MoV: 4.39 sec. ToR: 3:00

As you can see from the data, not much has really changed. Since the resurfacing, the pole speeds have come down, but the average race speed has gone up! Cautions and resulting laps have been reduced resulting in – hold on to your hats – MORE RACING! Plus, you get to see those cars RACE in the corners. Who wouldn’t like that? And, for all those that say the “bump and run” is gone… guess you didn’t see last Saturday’s race!

The one drawback that I can see is the race time duration. There’s less time to consume beverages now! Oh, well; I guess you can’t have your beer and drink it too!

Stay off the wall,

Jeff Meyer