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Go ahead, ask any driver and they will tell you they love short track racing because it is more like what they grew up doing and are used to. Not only is it a Saturday night race but there’s beating and banging and leaning on each other to make a move past someone.
One thing they won’t tell you is how short their temper might be when someone leans a little harder on them than they think they should or when someone sends them up the track to move them out of the way to pass them. That’s just one of the things many fans like about the short tracks NASCAR visits and a big reason why Bristol is one of the fan favorites of the entire season. It is why there will be one hundred and sixty thousand people in the seats surrounding the track at a place they call “the world’s fastest half-mile.”
This fan finds the closeness of the qualifying times for tonight’s race lineup very interesting. There is only around four tenths of a second separating the first starting position from the fortieth and if that won’t make it hard to pass, I don’t know what will. Sure, I know those are only one lap speeds and consistent lap times over the course of the race are what really counts, but still, that is a a powerful statement of the tightness of the competition in Sprint Cup these days. No matter how you look at it, it tends to point toward a very competitive race in Thunder Valley tonight.
I know the statistics say a driver has a better chance of winning if he starts near the front and I don’t totally disagree with that. From this fan’s view, starting out front is important but getting there and staying there are just as important and that can depend on a lot of things as the night progresses.
In tonight’s race, there is going to be an extreme amount of pressure on the pit crews to be mistake free the whole night. The drivers will have extra pressure on them to not speed in the pits and to protect their tires and cars and yet be aggressive and advance as far as they can toward the front. The crew chiefs will “only” have to have the perfect strategy all night long and make the perfect adjustments all during the race to keep their driver as happy and stress free as possible. (Now that doesn’t sound as if the crew chiefs have it difficult at all, does it…?)
From this fan’s view, even though a Chevy qualified for the pole and a Ford is on the outside pole, with the competition as close as it is, it is going to be another hard one to pick the winner of before the race starts. I know it doesn’t matter much what I think, but I still like to give my opinion of which ones to watch for taking the checkered flag at the end of the night. The Chevys and Fords looked very fast in practice and qualifying, but I still can’t discount the Toyotas or the Dodges. This is one of those races anyone can win from anywhere in the field in any brand.
Ryan Newman and Carl Edwards have a great shot at winning tonight simply because they start on the front row but so do about thirty others even though they don’t start on the front row. Even though I think some may choose to run the night cautiously, I still think some are almost in the desperation mode and will be trying just about anything they can to advance themselves in the points or get a win. Because of that, I’m thinking tonight could see just about any of the top thirty five starters could end up in Victory Lane tonight. Yes, I know some have a much better chance than others, but this is Saturday night short track racing and just about anything can (and usually does) happen.
Do I think Kyle Bush is going to win? Well, he sure has a great chance to, but then so does Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon, Jamie McMurray, Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Bush also. Could this be a night where someone totally unexpected walks away with the trophy? Hey, I’m not going to rule that out either. It could be Marcos Ambrose or “the Dinger,” but honestly, I don’t think it is going to be Robby Gordon, although stranger things have been known to happen on a Saturday night at Bristol.
This night race is one of the more colorful night races in the sense that it has all of that beating and banging adding up to those short tempers and paybacks which makes the whole race eventful, especially at the end. With the extra intensity of qualifying for the Chase included in the night, this fan expects and even more eventful night of racing than usual. There is just too much on the line for too many drivers trying to seal the deal for getting into the Chase for it not to be a little different Bristol race tonight…
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© August 27, 2011 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman and Nascarfansview.com
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