Roaring out of manufacturers' turf towards fan turf, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers and teams head to Bristol Motor Speedway.
BSM has nicknames like Thunder Valley and "The World's Fastest Half-Mile," but it is sometimes called the "bruise-bowl" given the bumping and slamming of race cars among NASCAR’s three top series during a typical night race.
Call it what you want, this Bristol race counts big with only three races remaining before the Chase to the Sprint Cup is set for only 12 drivers.
Fans might not know that this short-track event takes a heavy physical toll on drivers even if they avoid crashing. Bristol can weigh intensely on NASCAR’s fittest. Probably it’s the result of a short track with high banks and fast confined space for 43 drivers who are accustomed to more real estate when they work.
A big part of every NASCAR driver’s job is a polished ability to speak in public and promote their sponsors and the popular motorsport.
Top drivers had comments to share before the green flag flies.
Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team finally had some bad luck in 2013 with a practice crash and an engine failure early in the race at MIS. Fortunately, Johnson and team have points to burn.
“Short tracks are fun,” Johnson said. “The night race in Bristol is awesome. I’m excited to go back. We run well there. I have high expectations and expect to go there and run really well.”
Clint Bowyer maintains his No. 2 spot in points without a win, but the No. 15 team is consistently near the front on race day.
“It’s one of my favorite racetracks,” Bowyer said. “Whether you get caught up in something or not, get a bad finish or a good finish, it’s a coliseum. A short track in that bull ring. For a fan, you don’t get a better bang for your buck anywhere.”
Carl Edwards has one win and 12 top-10 finishes and is likely to contend for the title after Richmond.
“I love racing at Bristol,” Edwards said. “It’s a Saturday night race, there’s a lot of energy around it. Nothing like standing in victory lane on Saturday night. That’s our mission.”
Kevin Harvick and team continue to be competitive despite his future team plans next season.
“Overall, Bristol is a pretty crazy track,” Harvick. “It doesn’t matter if it’s the old track or new track; it just seems like that night race brings a lot more excitement.”
Kyle Busch has three wins to secure a good Chase start, but the other contenders will be among the elite pack as well. Anything can happen.
“Biggest thing for us is that the wins mean the most right now and trying to get some bonus points,” Busch said. “You try not to dwell on the things that knock you back as much, and you can focus a little bit more on the positives.”
The night lights are about to shine at the revered Bristol Motor Speedway, the .533-mile 30-degree track with 30-degree banking. Fans without a ticket for one of the 160,000 seats can tune into ABC at 7:30 p.m. ET on Aug. 24.
NASCAR drivers are about to get a fast workout. Fans can observe them up close.
FYI WIRZ is the select presentation of topics by Dwight Drum at Racetake.com. Unless otherwise noted, information and all quotes were obtained firsthand or from official release materials provided by sanction and team representatives.