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FYI WIRZ: NASCAR's Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson Talk the Bristol Bullring

Dwight Drum@@racetakeCorrespondent IIIAugust 24, 2011

Jimmie Johnson during an introduction ride on a pickup truck
Jimmie Johnson during an introduction ride on a pickup truck

Bristol Motor Speedway, a .533-mile oval track with 30 degree banking, home to one of NASCAR’s most prized tickets twice a season, takes on a championship edge as drivers and teams compete for the 10 top spots and two wild card positions in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) presents the
Irwin Tools Night Race in Bristol, Tenn., a Sprint Cup event scheduled to go 500 Laps (266.5 miles). Viewers can join the excitement at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday on ABC.

The short track with its coliseum stands has long been a favorite with fans because they are close to the action—stock cars bumping and banging around the limited oval. They know a dented car can win.

The top five point leaders carry the best spots going into the final three Chase-making races, but their efforts aren’t likely to be anything like coasting. Their words before this week’s green flag might disclose their plans. Some will likely clinch a berth this race weekend.

Kyle Busch (No. 18 Toyota)

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“Bristol Motor Speedway is one of the best race tracks on the circuit,” Busch said. “All the fans love it because of the excitement, the run-ins and the close-quarter action with all the cars being packed on top of one another at a half-mile race track with us 43 lunatics running around in a tight circle. With the fans, the atmosphere there always makes for a good time. We have the safer barrier on the outside wall taking up a little bit more racing room up off the corners since they’ve run the wall farther down the straightaway. But it’s taking up some racing room, and it makes the racing even tighter. We are probably going to see some more action.”

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Chevrolet)

“I feel a lot more in control going to Bristol these days,” Johnson said. “From a guy sitting behind the wheel, you want options and opportunities to race. The track has that now. In a certain respect, we almost have three lanes that you can run on around the race track, especially as the race wears on and the groove gets pushed out. Behind the wheel, that is what we want.

“Not only is it fast, we make a lap in 15-ish seconds depending on the run and the tire, but, the hard thing is also visibility and that helps enhance the sensation of speed. When you go into a corner at Bristol, the radius of the turn is so sharp, that you would literally need a sun roof to see the exit of the corner because you go in the corner and the exit is over here. So not only are you going really fast in a small area, you can’t see much. You only see, as you are going into the corner, you can maybe only see five car lengths in front of you, six car lengths.”

Kevin Harvick (No. 29 Chevrolet)

The new one (Bristol Motor Speedway) is pretty easy,” Harvick said. “There is a lot of room to race. Two totally different animals (from old track to new track). It is a lot different than it used to be. Obviously, that race for years has been the hardest ticket in our sport to get. It seems like the Saturday night race there always brings out something exciting.”

Carl Edwards (No. 99 Ford)

“The Bristol night race is always a lot of fun,” Edwards said. “We’ve had some really good luck there. We had a bad points day at Michigan with a rare parts failure, so we’ll just go to Bristol and pull out all the stops and do everything we can to get another victory before the Chase starts.”

Matt Kenseth (No. 17 Ford)

“The August race at Bristol is always fun because racing there under the lights is pretty cool,” Kenseth said. “It’s the middle of summer, it’s hot out and they usually have a great crowd on hand for the race. The fans at Bristol are always excited, and they know that there’s going to be a lot of action during the races that weekend.

“These cars are a lot more stable and harder to get spun out than our old style of cars, and that changed the dynamic a little bit at Bristol. The new track is more forgiving and drives like a 3/4 or mile track instead of a half-mile because it is so wide. I think this new combination of car and track produces better racing as far as side-by-side racing and racing alongside people more than the old format.”

FYI WIRZ is the select presentation of topics by Dwight Drum at Racetake.com. 

Unless otherwise noted, information and all quotes were obtained from official release materials provided by NASCAR and team representatives.

Photo credit: Dwight Drum at Racetake.com.

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