Since Bristol Motor Speedway officials introduced an innovative track prep process one year ago involving the application of a traction compound to the lower groove of its half-mile all-concrete oval, the process has proved to be a success.
Not only have drivers raved about the two previous Bristol (Track) Bite applications and how it created more options for drivers as they navigated their stock cars around the high-banked short track, but other facilities on the NASCAR circuit have taken notice and also began to incorporate a similar treatment into their track prep process.
Two BMS sister tracks that are configured at a mile or more, Charlotte Motor Speedway and New Hampshire Motor Speedway, have used similar prep processes for different sections of their racing surfaces before recent events and both venues saw positive results.
At Bristol, where the treatment was first used at the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race in 2016 and once again during the 2017 Food City 500, the results have been even more dramatic, as many drivers have said the racing was thrilling for them and even more exciting for the fans.
As the Green Flag readies to wave for the UNOH 200 Camping World Truck Series event on Wednesday, Aug. 16, BMS track officials are preparing to add the treatment to the lower groove once again. It will be applied before all three major NASCAR races during the weekend.
“It adds an alternative and gives a guy the option to run down (low) if he wants and that’s good,” said Dale Earnhardt Jr., who will pull double-duty, racing in both the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race on Saturday evening and Friday night’s Food City 300 XFINITY Series race.
Seven-time Monster Energy Cup champ Jimmie Johnson, who won the Food City 500 in April, says the by-product of the treatment process is offering more options for every competitor in the field, which in turn creates great racing action for the fans.
“There were so many competitive passes and so much racing going on over the course of the event,” said Johnson, whose previous Bristol win came at the 2010 Food City 500. “To have ever-evolving track conditions all weekend long, no one could nail the setup and roll in here on past notes. I think those variables really produce better racing for us.”
Young Gun Kyle Larson, who posted top 10 finishes in both of Bristol’s April races, leading 202 laps of the Cup race and 180 of the XFINITY Series event, said he can’t wait to get back to BMS in August.
“I thought the race was great,” said Larson, who is currently third in MENCS points. “The track changed a lot throughout the race and that was extremely exciting. This is the best track we go to, the most exciting. I love coming here.”
Meanwhile, veteran racer Clint Bowyer said he was exhausted, yet exhilarated, following his second place finish in April.
“The effort that you put into driving that car, you can’t drive them any harder than that,” Bowyer said. “Literally it’s a qualifying lap almost every single time. It really is an ever-changing track, a lot like a dirt track. It’s tons of fun being able to race like that. I’ve been doing this a long time and that’s about as hard as I’ve ever driven in my life.”
Five-time Bristol winner and current FOX television analyst Jeff Gordon says Bristol’s effort in treating the track has put it back in the spotlight as a place that will produce memorable finishes.
“The fans and everybody would agree that what made Bristol so exciting was the bumping and banging, sparks flying, tempers flaring,” Gordon said, “and having that lane that has so much grip on the bottom has created a lot more of that.”
Earnhardt Jr., Johnson, Larson and Bowyer will all be competing for victory alongside many more of NASCAR’s elite drivers in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race, including defending winner Kevin Harvick, rising stars Chase Elliott, Erik Jones, two-time season winner Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Daniel Suarez, Ryan Blaney, and Austin and Ty Dillon, along with veteran drivers Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Indy winner Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth and red-hot Martin Truex Jr., the series points leader.
In addition to watching some of the greatest racing on the NASCAR circuit, there are so many cool options to make a complete weekend of family fun, including great video entertainment provided by Colossus, the world’s largest center-hung video screen, lots of party zones like the Bristol Lawn Party, premium VIP experiences like the Chairman’s Experience, tailgating, on-site camping, concerts, great food and beverages in the concession stands throughout the property, and so much more.
And for families who want to bring the entire clan, Bristol Motor Speedway officials are making it easier than ever for kids to have an awesome experience. Kids’ tickets (12 and under) are free and adult tickets are $30 for the Wednesday, Aug. 16 UNOH 200 Camping World Truck Series race and the Bush’s Beans 150 Whelen Modified Series race. Friday night’s (Aug. 18) Pinty’s Qualifying and Food City 300 XFINITY Series event features adult tickets starting at $35 and free kids tickets. On Saturday night (Aug. 19), kids’ tickets are only $10 for the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race, while adult tickets start at $69. For all races, each child must have a physical ticket in hand to enter the gates. The Bristol Motor Speedway ticket office and www.BristolTix.com are the only two authorized locations that can produce the free kids’ tickets.
To purchase tickets to the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race, please call 423-BRISTOL or buy them online at www.BRISTOLTIX.com. Tickets can also be purchased directly from any neighborhood Food City store.