The Night Race At Bristol And The Pressure Is On from a NASCAR Fan’s View

Okay, I’ve been trying really hard to avoid the obvious, but I just can’t do it. I’ve got to say what everyone says about this race even though it is getting a little repetitive everywhere. Are you ready? Here it is… this is the summer Saturday Night race at Bristol and there are only three races to go to make the playoffs. That means the pressure is on and time is running out for those hovering around the bubble spot of sixteenth but, “It’s Bristol, Baby!!”

There. I think I’ve gotten it out of my system, at least for now. This is what is commonly known as the world’s fastest half mile oval and it is one of the most popular racetracks on the NASCAR circuit. It has high speeds, high banks and a lot of drama and high emotions. Since it is basically called a short track, there is also the expectation of typical short track racing with all the bumping and banging, pushing and shoving. Of course, along with all that, there is the expectation of paybacks if there are some leftover anger issues from previous races.

Well, there are a couple of things that might make this one a little more intense than has even become the usual for the races at Bristol, in particular the night race. There is the fact that passing will be hard and the likely way some will use will be the use of the bumper to move them out of the way. It seems the track wants to return this track back to a single groove track and that’s why they have only applied the “sticky stuff” to the bottom groove. as for the other grooves, well, they expect the drivers will work them in on their own. This only adds to the pressure on those drivers trying to make it into the top sixteen because, as we have endlessly been told, there is a major traffic jam at the bubble area of the standings.

Since emotions are already high, especially amongst those trying to make the playoffs, the setup of the track will be conducive to even higher emotions. In this fan’s opinion, the track has almost guaranteed there will be even more bumping and banging than usual and it could lead to some very “disgruntled” drivers as the night progresses. In other words, some of them may get “fighting mad” and it could make for interesting “conversations” when this one is over.

You will notice I have tried to carefully choose my words in the previous statements. That is because I don’t want to be accused stirring the pot. The track is helping do that all by itself by the way they have used the PJ1 (commonly called “sticky stuff” by many.) What I’m saying is, I believe there might be some very high emotions exhibited when this race is over and some of those emotions may get a bit physical.

From this fan’s view there are two obvious things that will be going on during this race. We all know the first is winning and second is seeing which of the drivers close to the bubble, either above or below the cut line, will make gains on the rest. That is where the real race is. After the last couple of weeks, it is anybody’s guess which of them might come away from Bristol above the cut line of sixteenth.
Two drivers are particularly struggling and it seems no matter which of them appears to get a break, the other one manages to have problems and keep the points close. I’m sure you know I’m talking about Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson. They have both been trying very hard to stay in the top sixteen and both have had unbelievably bad finishes and both are still hovering right around the dreaded bubble spot.

At Watkins Glen, Jimmie Johnson looked to have the opportunity to make gains on Bowyer’s bad day only to have his hopes dashed by spinning into the tire barrier. Last week, it looked as though Clint was going to make major gains on Jimmie and then he, too, made a trip into the wall (just a racing incident) and managed to have a worse day than Jimmie. That’s the kind of stuff that’s been going on for both of them and it has made everything a whole lot more interesting and pressure packed. From my view, although it isn’t likely, it is possible neither them will make the playoffs. Their problem could be solved with a win and both of them are capable of winning at Bristol.

It still appears the Fords and Toyotas have, at least, a little advantage over the Chevys and that could spell trouble when it comes down to making the playoffs and winning the championship. Yeah, I know there are some Chevys already in the playoffs but I’m not so sure they will be in the final four. (Ok, I know it may be a little early to be making that kind of prediction, but they just haven’t shown the consistency and strength of the Toyotas and Fords.)

So… the big question for this “Saturday Night under the lights” is, who is going to win? Will it be someone already in by points but no wins in 2019 or will it be someone not in by points or wins? Man, I just don’t know but, it sure has gotten interesting and I don’t expect that to change until Bristol, Darlington and Indy are in the books. I don’t think we’ll know who’s in the playoffs until the very end of all three of those. Hang on! It looks like it’s going to be a wild ride all the way…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© August 17, 2019 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman, and
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