In a little Eastern corner of The Volunteer State (Tennessee) is a wonderful Racing Cathedral called Bristol Motor Speedway, also known as The World’s Fastest Half Mile. This Track which opened in 1961 in what was at the time a Cow pasture, was a perfect half-mile, measuring 60 feet wide on the straightaway and 75 feet wide in the turns which were banked at 22 degrees. The Track seated just 18,000 Fans. In the 39 years since that Inaugural Race there has been changes in ownership, multiple upgrades, and major resurfacing. After it was all set and done it now is a .533 mile oval that seats 160,000 Race Fans, is 40 feet wide, 650 foot long straightaway, and variable banking in the corners (24 to 30 degrees) and straightaway (6 to 10 degrees).
From the minute you walk into BMS your stand in awe of the Mass of Humanity. Wall to wall Race Fans hooting and hollering in anticipation of one of the greatest things you shall ever witness. When the National Anthem is belted out you are overcome with emotion, knowing you and some of the proudest Americans you have never even met are enjoying another common Love, Racing. The command is hailed and the 43 Monsters of horsepower roar to a deafening silence. Excitement overcomes you and all of your new friends, as the Green Flag drops you realize you just entered the History of this Hallowed Ground.
From recent history you would think it was called Busch Motor Speedway. The Brothers Busch have 8 wins in the last 16 Races. Kurt Busch (5 wins) has the distinction of being the first Winston Cup Driver to be invited to the new Winners Circle in 2002, which was Kurt’s first Cup Series win. Kyle Busch (3 wins) was the Winner of the first COT race in 2007, which was the last race on the original concrete surface. He has also swept the Cup Races there in 2009.
Let’s not think for a moment that no one else has a chance. There are 11 Drivers who have won at BMS entered into the Race. Besides the Brothers Busch, other multiple time winners include Carl Edwards (2), Matt Kenseth (2), Mark Martin (2), and Jeff Gordon with 5 wins. Single Race winners include Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Elliott Sadler, and Jeff Burton. Jeff Burton win included 2nd and 3rd place finishes from his teammates in 2008. Now that RCR is back in the groove look for the Childress Clan to try and duplicate the effort.
It is hard to believe with all of his success on Short Tracks and his dominance over the past 4 years, Jimmie Johnson has no wins at BMS. While his HMS Teammates have a combined 8 Cups wins. Mark Martin was also the first driver to claim a race win in the 3 top Series of NASCAR in 2006. The last time any active HMS Driver won a Race at Bristol was 2004, and that was Dale Earnhardt Jr.
There has been some stuff going on prior to this race but I do not see any unnecessary beating and banging. Not to say there will not be any door donuts, but I don’t see too many guys getting seriously aggressive. No one wants to be that first guy the hammer comes down on. Even though there seems to be some disparity early in this 2010 campaign, I see the usual drivers sprinting to the finish. They are in no particular order, Kurt Busch, Mark Martin, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Carl Edwards. There are of course others who have a chance, but this is Bristol.
Only the Strong Survive.