The Food City 500 At Bristol  

From a NASCAR Fan’s View

Finally… the spring race at Bristol is back to concrete. I know there are those that think they should have kept it as dirt again but, in all honesty and from this fan’s view, there were several drawbacks to the Bristol dirt races. I don’t know exactly when I changed, but when I was young and living in Southern Illinois, I grew up around dirt track racing and loved it. I still do to a point but, I would rather watch the dirt races with different the different types of cars and on the shorter, more local tracks and the Cup cars on hard surfaces like concrete and asphalt. Oh, for a time or two it was something different and interesting to watch and see how the NASCAR Cup drivers handled the dirt but, in this fan’s opinion, it was just that… something different not permanent.

So, this spring race at Bristol appears to be different already judging from practice and qualifying. Between the A group practice and the B group, something drastically changed in the track surface – at least the most used low groove – and it showed up in the lap times and the handling first in the B group and then very obviously in the qualifying of the A group. Funny though; Ryan Blaney experienced it at the end of the A group practice session. I can’t say for sure but it may have helped him get the pole for today’s race. He and his team were the first to adjust correctly to the definite and somewhat sudden change in the track surface.

Bristol Motor Speedway has always been a crowd pleaser. It is a tough, intense track and, ask any driver, with hardly any time to breathe. It has been and will be again today, a physically and mentally draining track. The racing is always intense and there will likely be times of high emotions that will be displayed because of that intensity. Well, that and the elevated adrenaline that goes with racing and in particular at Bristol.

In the last two weeks, it seems the Chevys have lost a bit to the Toyotas and Fords. For a while in the first few weeks of the season, it appeared they were going to be the ones to beat every weekend. Even though they weren’t necessarily qualifying on the front row, they were finishing up front, taking home the trophies and racking up the wins. Then suddenly, things turned around for the Toyotas when they went out west. Armed with a new NASCAR rules package for short tracks, they managed to dominate Phoenix leading most of the laps last weekend. I suppose it is possible it could happen again this weekend.

Yeah, you know I haven’t forgotten Joey Logano qualifying on the front row almost every race to begin with but I also haven’t forgotten he didn’t finish all that well for various reasons. He has had a relatively difficult time so far this season. In fact, up till this weekend, the Fords still appeared to be struggling a bit even though they have shown signs of life as this young season has progressed.

Now, it appears the Fords may make a statement at Bristol. Well, at least if Ryan Blaney has anything to say about it. He made a very strong showing in the practice and qualifying sessions yesterday and walked away with the pole as well as good overall performance in the long runs in the practice session. I won’t say for sure but, it could be he will walk away with a trip to Victory Lane today.

Do I think the Toyotas and Chevys won’t have something to say about that? No, absolutely not. I expect there were a lot of late hours spent last night by all the teams trying to figure out how to show up today to be more competitive than yesterday when the resin appeared to break down relatively quickly during the Cup teams practice sessions. It appeared to this fan that the teams were relatively surprised by the sudden change in the track surface and most of them just didn’t have time to adjust to it in the limited time of practice and qualifying.

So, here’s how I think the race today will go. Although it is possible that Ryan Blaney could simply dominate the day, I think all of the teams have had time to think of how to adjust to the change the track went through. That could mean the Toyotas – and even the Chevys – could make it tough on the Fords even though Blaney’s Ford looks to be the one to beat entering into the Food City 500 today. After all, the lap times were very close together in usual Bristol fashion.

Of course, it also depends on what happens with the resin. At the time of this writing, I have not heard of how the track will be treated considering the way it broke down yesterday. I mean I understand why they use the stuff but it doesn’t appear to be the answer in the long run, (no pun intended).

I guess it will all come down to which of the teams have made good changes and continue to make them during the race as the track goes through its changes. They do have a lot of laps to make changes but I believe it will come down to how many cautions and long green flag runs they have. Will the fastest qualifier end up in Victory Lane or will it be one from further back in the field and will it be a Ford, Toyota or a Chevy?

At this point and looking at yesterday’s time on the track for all the teams, I just don’t have any idea…

Hey, this is Russ and that’s my view… See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 17, 2024 – all rights reserved
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