Bye-Bye Bristol As One of NASCAR's Most Exciting Races

dave darbySenior Analyst IMarch 22, 2009

BRISTOL, TN - MARCH 22:  Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Snickers Toyota, celebrates winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 22, 2009 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Bye-Bye to Bristol as a spotlight race on the NASCAR circuit.

For me, it used to be Bristol (night race up front), Daytona, and Talladega as the races I most looked forward to and could not be disturbed while they were going on, because action could happen at any second. Not anymore.

In 1961, Bristol opened and just 19 of the starting grid of 42 finished. In 1969, the banking was increased and the half-mile stretched to .533 miles, but it was still a bull ring where the strong survived.

In 1992, the surface became the first NASCAR track to be all concrete. Grip to make a move and move those in your way. The term "roll your car into the trailer" began as teams had a goal of being intact when the checkered flag waved.

Early in March 2007, the surface was repaved and racing changed. A higher groove came into play and passing became easier. It was no longer necessary to move someone over, you just took an extra lap and went high or low as needed.

The car of tomorrow allowed for cars to bump from behind without a spin out or damage repercussions.

Today’s race had just nine cautions with 445 laps run under green flag conditions. A quarter into the race most cars were lapped and out of contention. There were only a few instances were cars contacted to cause any issues and for the most part only one car was affected.

I am not a believer that only wrecks make for interesting racing. However, if you have ever been to a race and watched 35 laps of green flag racing where the cars are spread out, you know you are wishing for a caution to bring them back together for a bit of drama.  

Bristol is still stadium racing that is exciting, just not to the level that it used to be. Congrats to Kyle for a ho-hum win.

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