This weekend Roush Fenway Racing rolls into “Thunder Valley” for what looks to be a wild weekend at the world’s most frenzied half-mile track. Perhaps the most intense track on the circuit, some have gone as far as to describe Bristol as the equivalent of ‘a squadron of jet fighters storming around a football stadium.’
Roush’s teams have totaled 18 wins at the ‘last great colosseum;’ leading over 5,300 laps and scoring 129 top-10 finishes.
Bristol has been one of the most successful tracks on the circuit for NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee Jack Roush and his NASCAR team. But, the 30-year NASCAR owner is quick to point out his history of success at Bristol carries even beyond his three decades in NASCAR.
“I went to Bristol for the first time (with NASCAR) in 1988,” said Roush. “But I had had a great deal of success there and won on the drag strip at Bristol with the Fastbacks years before that.
“Bristol has always been a place that had two complexes,” added Roush, whose NASCAR teams have now made 254 starts at the half-mile oval track. “It had a drag strip up in between the hills and it had an oval track.
“I’ve had the chance to race on both of them and whenever I go to Bristol, it ties my drag racing in with my stock car racing. I have fond memories of the drag racing that preceded the stock car racing and I have fond memories of the stock car racing as well.”
Just as with the drag racing, success on the oval at Bristol would soon follow and Roush and his then startup operation could not wait to hit the pavement.
“Mark (Martin) was so enthused when he had a chance to go to Bristol,” recalled Roush. “It was fast and high-banked and he was able to get in the gas and not worry about a lot of finesse, and it was one of his favorite places. He had a good feel for it and a great enthusiasm, and eventually we realized the kind of success on the oval track that I had on the drag strip before that.”
Roush Fenway finished second in its first NASCAR Cup start at Bristol in the spring of 1988. Martin and Roush won at Bristol from the pole in the fall of 1993, opening the floodgates for the organization’s unparalleled success at the track.
All-in-all Roush Fenway has won at Bristol in all three of NASCAR’s major series for a total of 18 victories (including 11 in the Cup series), with the victories spread out over six drivers.
This weekend Roush Fenway will vie for two victories with four combined entries in the XFINITY and Cup races. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has been stellar at Bristol and carries the highest average finish of any driver in the last eight races at BMS, where he has scored two runner-up finishes and four top 10’s in his last six starts at Bristol. Hometown favorite Trevor Bayne will look to build on his fifth-place finish at this event last season.
On the XFINITY front both Ryan Reed and Bubba Wallace will look to maintain their top five positions in the season point standings. Wallace, who comes into the race having finished sixth in the last five races, earned a Bristol career-high finish of seventh at BMS last fall.
This week’s XFNITY Series race is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 22 and will be televised live on FS1. Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race is set for 2 p.m. and will be televised live on FOX.