Racing at Bristol is so bright, you gotta put on lights. Photo courtesy of Flickr user wjarrettc.Enlarge Photo
After all, it's one of the most anticipated races of the year cause it's at "The World's Fastest Half Mile Oval" and it's under the lights.
Come to think of it, that's two of the perfect ingredients for a Saturday night showdown, whether it's as one of the 43 drivers suiting up, one of the hundreds of thousands of fans in the grandstands, or from the comfort of your living room. Make no mistake, this summertime tradition is one worth the replay value, no matter who your allegiance is with all season long.
Since 1978, the track has held a night-time event during its second race date, which brought back a novelty into stock car racing. Heroes from the past worked their way up the racing ladder by racing in weekly night late model or open-wheel series events somewhere in an obscure location in the States. Thus, that feeling of nostalgia hits home to some drivers.
Unlike races at Michigan or Indianapolis, it will not be aerodynamics or horsepower to get around Bristol successfully. Instead, it's about having an iron lead foot, patience, and a willingness to trade paint with fellow competitors. Whether it's for position or just for thrills, it's bound to be a wild race to see some of the world's most professional drivers "duking it out" as if it's their hometown track.
Kyle Busch has made Bristol Motor Speedway into his personal playground, as he's won five races in his previous 13 starts. If that's not convincing enough, he's scored seven top-fives and 10 top-10's, which obviously make him the favorite heading into this weekend's race.
However, don't just give the checkered flag away just to Mr. Busch immediately. He's got a slew of hungry competitors who are looking to not only find their way to Victory Lane, but to lock up Chase seeds.
Drivers like Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, and Carl Edwards all have a shot to mathematically lock themselves not only into the postseason field, but also with a top-10 seed. Given, they'll need some "help" from fellow competitors in the "bubble" spots to have problems during the race, but even then, they'll race their way in with or without some carnage or equipment issues from those racers.
Harvick got a head start on his competitors this weekend by competing in the Camping World Truck Series race on Wednesday night and winning it all, snapping Busch's five-straight race streak of victories at Bristol. Still, that was a Trucks race and he'll have his work cut out for him come Saturday night.
All bets are off at this track in terms of "give and take," as there'll be more taking for any inch of real estate on this concrete beast. When all is said and done, there'll be more dented sheet metal than smiles after 500 laps of hard gritty racing.