Bristol Dirt Racing Under The Lights

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

The old local radio advertisement I remember from years ago went something like this: “Saturday night under the lights! Saturday night under the lights…!” and from there they would say where the racing would be taking place and, of course, it would have been at one of our local race tracks either dirt or asphalt. I grew up in a relatively small town but we did have two dirt tracks and the racing generally took place on Friday and Saturday nights, sometimes even on Sunday afternoon. The biggest drawing track was the one near the airport and it had its races on Saturday night and that’s the one I remember the most. Now, I’m not saying this weekend’s race reminds me a lot of those Saturday nights in Southern Illinois but, it does bring a lot of memories back to mind of night racing on the dirt in my hometown.

There are at least two things very different about the race this weekend however. This one takes place on a Sunday night and, of course, “It’s Bristol, Baby!”

It seems the winners and also-rans have pretty much been chosen for tonight’s race. At the top of the list are Christopher Bell, Kyle Larson, Kyle Bush and Tyler Reddick. All of those are good choices and any one of them could win tonight. The problem I have with making a list that mostly talks of people with a lot of dirt track experience in their background is that it generally doesn’t take into account the adaptability of other drivers to quickly take to the dirt and surprise everyone.

Admittedly, I never did race on the dirt and never had to set up my car for racing on the dirt, but I will say, some of the most fun I remember having while I was racing was when we had to dry out the track after a quick rain shower. I believe that was the closest we came to dirt-tracking because of how slick it was. Even though we were on asphalt, at least in my opinion, the lack of grip was just like racing on dirt.

I’m sure there will be some that will disagree with me but that doesn’t change my view at all. I know how different it was to race on wet asphalt as opposed to dry and how our cars handled on the wet. We were always in a power slide in the turns and had to have good throttle control to keep going the way we wanted the car to go at speed.

But enough about me and my days from the past racing at the local short tracks in my hometown. I realize NASCAR on the dirt at Bristol is whole different beast. Well, at least in most ways. Just the aura that comes to mind when the track name is mentioned has always been interesting to me. When people talk of Bristol, they often use the phrase, “It’s Bristol, baby” or “That’s Bristol, baby!” Much of that is because it is one of the shortest tracks on the NASCAR circuit and it is what many people grew up watching. There has always been something about short track racing under the lights and tonight’s race will be no different.

Kyle Larson’s performance in his qualifying heat race put him on the pole position for the start of tonight’s race. Even he said he and his team had a long way to go in their setup for tonight’s race if they wanted to stay out front. He recognized they started out string but, by the end of fifteen laps, they were almost not able to stay ahead of Ryan Preece.

Speaking of Ryan Preece, his run in that qualifying race was a bit unexpected and that is one reason why I don’t put much stock in just looking at the drivers that spent a lot of time racing on dirt. I believe tonight’s race could be a total surprise as far as it goes. I could be wrong and there are a few drivers I would like to see win but, it is quite possible this could be another week where I believe there could be a totally unexpected winner. Yeah, I’m pulling for a couple of my favorites but, from what I’ve seen so far, there are a lot of possibilities when it comes to winners.

So, does that mean I’m going to go into a long list of drivers and teams that I think could win tonight? No, not at all. What I’m going to say is that nothing would surprise me in tonight’s race because, “It’s Bristol, baby!!”

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© April 9, 2023 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
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