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 ‘jet fighters racing around a football stadium.’
Bristol has been one of the most successful tracks on the circuit for Jack Roush and his NASCAR team, but as he points out his history of success at Bristol carries even beyond his 25 ‘Winning Years’ in NASCAR.
“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 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.
“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 and opened the floodgate for the organization’s unparalleled amount of 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 17 victories (including 10 in the Sprint Cup Series), with the victories spread out over six drivers. In the Cup series Roush Fenway swept the track in 2003 and has put a Cup car in victory lane in seven of the last 10 seasons.
This weekend Roush Fenway will vie for two victories with five combined entries in the Nationwide and Sprint Cup races. Greg Biffle will look to retain his Sprint Cup point lead, while earning his first-career victory at Bristol, while Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards will each look for their third trip to victory lane at Bristol in the Sprint Cup Series.
On the Nationwide front, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., looks to follow up last week’s win in Las Vegas, while Trevor Bayne hopes for a win in front of his ‘hometown’ crowd in eastern Tennessee.