Race Weekend Central

Mirror Driving: Final Thoughts on the New Bristol & Digesting the New Top 35

It’s clear that 18 months after repaving, this isn’t the same old Bristol. That’s led to some mixed reviews from fans – but is the new Bristol a classic or a total flop?

Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: 2009 Food City 500 at Bristol Edition

A weekend in noisy Thunder Valley following a quiet week of rest last week provides a jarring wakeup call to drivers, crews, and fans alike. But while Sunday’s Bristol race itself did not spark the normal beating and banging fest people are used to seeing, it did help bring to light what this season’s short-track races may bring for some teams. While the Food City 500 proved its top finishers are going to be threats next week at Martinsville, at Richmond and the fall version of all three of these races, it also proved that others have some major strides to make if they want to contend on the type of track that makes up roughly 15% of the schedule. Here are the best and the worst of the litter as the Sprint Cup Series leaves Bristol and makes its way to Martinsville.

Fan’s View: The Joys of Watching NASCAR’s Wayback Machine

On Saturday night, Bristol Motor Speedway held a little extra something for race fans across the nation. The Scotts Saturday Night Special entry list read like a NASCAR history book: Junior Johnson, Cale Yarborough and Harry Gant were only three of the drivers that brought us all back to better days. For the first time in an eternity, these legends got behind the wheel of a stock car and made some noise in Thunder Valley.

Bubble Breakdown: David Gilliland Drives TRG’s No. 71 Right Into Top 35

If you remember back to 2008, Jamie McMurray – a good driver on one of the super teams, Roush Fenway Racing – was not only sitting on the bubble heading to Bristol, but on the wrong side of it when he left there. It was proof even the best organizations could fall victim to having to qualify on speed. One year later, Ryan Newman and Mark Martin felt that same pressure, needing strong performances from their top-tier organizations to avoid what happened to McMurray last year. So, did Martin and Newman avoid being the big-name drivers on the outside looking in? And what underdog defied the odds to sneak into the Top 35? Read on to find out as we break down the bubble for the Food City 500 from Bristol Motor Speedway.

5 Points to Ponder: 2009 Food City 500 at Bristol Edition

If you’re not a Busch, you haven’t been in a Sprint Cup victory lane in over a month. Kyle Busch made it three wins in a row for the Vegas brothers, leading 378 of 503 laps at Bristol this weekend en route to his second win of the season. The last three Sprint Cup races have been won by either Kyle Busch or his older brother Kurt Busch, whose win two weeks ago in Atlanta followed Kyle’s at Las Vegas. Lil’ Busch is having a similar season to that of his 2008 campaign, but it’s been Kurt Busch who’s been the surprise, finishing 11th this weekend despite starting 32nd and suffering an early run-in with Kevin Harvick.

Happy Hour: Solving NASCAR’s Racetrack Problem, Part 2 – Happy Hour Motor Speedway I, A New Short Track

In last week’s Happy Hour, I discussed baseball’s ballpark boom and how the place responsible for it all, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, changed the formula for modern ballparks – from antiseptic concrete bowls to eye-catching and distinctive structures with natural grass. I suggested that NASCAR could learn from this, with most of the NASCAR schedule littered with tracks that are all too similar to one another. With that in mind, here is what defines Happy Hour Motor Speedway I. Feel free to chew me out if something doesn’t work, or add any ideas of your own.

Driven to the Past: A Selective Rain Shower and a Flight That Didn’t Work Out Well…

Back when I was a newspaper editor in Salem, Ind., I had a lawyer friend named Delson Cox who happened to be a race fan and who was also a pretty good pilot. He owned a Mooney, which was a pretty fast single-engine aircraft, and we took a lot of rides together. One day he called me and asked if I was working the ARCA race at Talladega that weekend. I told him I wasn’t, but I was game to make the trip if he wanted to go. So, Sunday morning we load up the Mooney and head for ‘Dega.

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