Will we see old school Bristol on Saturday night? – Online race review
BRISTOL, Tenn — Thursday night’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race had people thrilled. A one lane bottom groove race track that if you wanted to pass you had to use the bumper. This is old Bristol. Would the former Bristol make a comeback for Saturday night’s Bass Pro Shops night race (7:30pm ET, US, PRN)?
The new Bristol has a progressive incline where you can run multiple grooves around the corners, with the high route around the top being one of the favorite routes.
However, fans were begging for that to go away and a return to the old-fashioned way. Thursday night proved that it could happen.
The track sprayed PJ1 down and 4 feet from the bot lane. It adds grip to the low lane in hopes of making it the preferred groove.
Thing is, they didn’t choose to use the resin which surprised some and they won’t be reapplying it over the weekend either.
So what kind of racing will we see on Saturday night?
Joey Logano says he doesn’t necessarily think this track needs extra traction. It’s Bristol.
“I think having options to race in different lanes is a good thing, especially this car,” Logano said. He said it’s almost certain that with a wider tire and pounding the concrete for 500 laps will create more rubber buildup and require you to search in different lines to avoid this.
Before last year’s race, I wondered if short tracks weren’t the right way to go for cut-off races. That’s because heading into the last three seasons now, the way the cut races have formed, well, it seemed like it was full of fireworks. Two short tracks and a ROVAL sandwiched between them as the three NASCAR Cup Series cutoff races.
Last year, the first round would have the Southern 500, Richmond and Bristol. Round 2 had Talladega and the ROVAL in Charlotte to close out the round of 12. Martinsville the last 2 years was the race cut from the round of 8.
This year the races cut to Bristol and Martinsville with the ROVAL sandwiched between the two.
We all thought that with short bits in the playoffs it would have led to hurt feelings after them. There were a few moments between Elliott and Harvick having their spat in Bristol last year and that carried over into the round of 12 race on the ROVAL. Then Alex Bowman and Denny Hamlin had their break-in last year in Martinsville.
Are we expecting more of the same this Saturday night in Bristol?
It depends. You still have to look back to 2020 and how the start of the 2021 playoffs played out as well for the full picture.
2020 Round 1 Warnings:
Southern 500: 7 for 34 laps
Richmond: 3 for 21 laps
Bristol: 5 for 50 spins
Total: 15 for 105 rounds
1,267 laps run including 1,162 under green (92%)
Round 1 warns 2021 ahead of Bristol:
Southern 500 – 11 for 52 laps
Richmond – 5 for 30 spins
Before this race last year, it was 16 for 82 laps.
767 laps run including 685 under green so far (89%).
Then all hell broke loose.
So what are we going to witness this time around since the previous two races this year were Darlington and Kansas?
With a car that’s more durable and harder to overtake, I feel like we’re going to see chaos again. With the old car, you couldn’t risk tearing it up. This time it’s the opposite.
“Everybody has to protect their tips and the race car and not hit somebody and get their fenders rubbed. That’s what led to Richmond’s lack of excitement and that’s what can happen to Bristol,” Kurt Busch told me last year about why the intensity was less instead of more.
With the need for points and also the race for points, the possibility of those races fades early in the wild, because it’s not like you can pass someone without potentially damaging your car too. You had to be calculated with your risks and your blows. Has the race for points made these races more tame and if that’s part of the equation, should NASCAR think about bringing Bristol back to the August race for more controversy and drama.
“So it would be a matter of ‘oh wait a minute, maybe we need to postpone this race to August when the guys aren’t necessarily so worried about points and letting the rough edges dry out,'” Busch continued. Dump someone. Destroy cars and don’t pay such a big point penalty.
“That’s the difference in the playoff races in that everyone makes sure they get all the points possible. Therefore, they drive more carefully.
They didn’t end up being careful at the end of Bristol last year and with this new body style they can bully other cars and keep racing without worrying about damaging the panels or creating chafing of the tires.
We’ll see Saturday night. If it’s even less chaos, then the question of short tracks as cut races will arise.
There is also the stage points factor.
Getting off to a good start is important this weekend as not all 16 playoff drivers can start in the top 10, if you do the math, at the very least six of them can’t score waypoints. With advancement to lap two not likely to go down a few points, you need to position yourself in the lead by the end of stage one.
Kurt Busch noted last year that because of this, stage races changed your Bristol setups. In the past, you used to tune your car for the second half of the race. You would enter it with a car that you knew would be good from lap 250. You can’t do that anymore. You should set it up for lap 1 due to how important stage points are. You cannot abandon them.
The playoff bubble is tight and stage points may be the reason you advance to the knockout stages or get eliminated instead.
Without a lot of practice and racing here this spring on concrete, you better hope that from lap one you’ll have the right communication to work on the car during the race and stay ahead. Otherwise, you could score stage points on the first stage, but falter as the race progresses. You need to be set up from the get-go, but tinker with the car as you race to stay relevant.
Only 7 points separate the 10th and 14th in the standings. 2 of these pilots will not advance. Chase Briscoe is 15th and just 9 points below the cut line.
That’s why stage points are so important this weekend.