Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Bristol Rewind

Happy Wednesday everyone!

As promised I have decided that I would start posting about racing more often on this blog.  Now I know most of my visitors are here for beauty reviews and things of that nature; however, beauty is not my only passion.  If you are a long time follower of this blog you may already know that I picked up my passion for racing of all types from my dad.  Growing up he was always out in the shop behind our house tinkering on whatever race car we had at the moment and when it was time, we would all load up into our Ford Excursion with the race trailer behind us and make our way to the track for a long weekend.  My dad was a hobby racer, and I have recently graduated with an Engineering degree so I can go work in racing full time.

Bristol is a special place for me.  It was the first NASCAR race my dad ever took me to way back in 2005 and we went together almost every year after that until I went away to college.  It was our special time together and I will always remember that when I return to that sleepy part of East Tennessee.

Photo: Brad Keselowski wins Truck Series Race at Bristol
Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images
As for this past week in Bristol, yes that's right I said week, it was filled with action and a little bit of rain.  The fall races at Bristol Motor Speedway always begin on Wendesday evening with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS).  The main reason for this race being on Wednesday night is simply because there is not enough space to park the Truck Series haulers, the Nationwide Series haulers, and the Cup Series haulers inside the track, or even outside for that matter.  But alas this year mother nature decided she wanted in on the action in Bristol which caused the race to be pushed back to Thursday morning at 10 A.M.

I will fully admit that I forgot all about the Truck race's start time and wound up tuning in for the last 16 laps.  What I saw; however, was nothing short of great racing.  In the end, Brad Keselowski wound up holding off a late race charge by Darrell Wallace Jr. to score his first victory in the Truck Series.  While Brad has won in both the Nationwide Series and the Cup Series including a championship in each of those series. With his win in the Truck Series; however, he became part of the first ever father-son duo to win races in the Truck Series.  Not to mention he won driving for his own team.  As for post race inspections, three trucks were found to not meet minimum height requirements.  These three trucks were the driven by Brad Keselowski, the winner, Ron Hornaday Jr., and Cole Custer.  Fines and penalties were handed down today and were the same for all three trucks, $5,000, 10 points deducted from the championship driver and owner points.

As for the rest of Thursday, two practice sessions were held for the Nationwide Series where Chase Elliott was fastest in the first session and Kyle Larson was fastest in the second.  Also on Thursday Food City Family Race Night is held in Downtown Bristol.  During this traditional festival, many drivers appear for autograph sessions for the fans, there is live entertainment and show cars.  And for the first time, Bristol hosted a 5K race dubbed the "Night Race 5K" where the course took runners around the dragway, campgrounds, and of course the high banked oval.  The final event of the night is the traditional hauler parade where the NASCAR Sprint Cup haulers drive into the Speedway while fans line the road and cheer for their favorite drivers.

Friday at the Speedway is also traditionally a crazy day that is filled with practice sessions, qualifying sessions, and finally the Nationwide Series race.  The Cup Series had two practice sessions that began at 11 A.M. and resulted in Kyle Larson having the fastest time.  The second session began at 1:30 P.M. and resulted in Ricky Stenhouse Jr. having the fast time.  Next on the schedule was the Nationwide Series qualifying session which left Kyle Busch with the pole position.  If you haven't seen the new rules for the qualifying sessions, you can see those here.

Ryan Blaney wins at Bristol Motor Speedway
Photo Credit:
At 5:40 P.M. Friday night, qualifying for the Sprint Cup Series was held resulting in Kevin Harvick having the pole.  During the broadcast for the session, the announcers kept referring to storms that were just about 8 miles away from the track and I didn't think they would be able to get the entire session completed before the rain moved in.  However, I was wrong.  The Nationwide Series race was set to begin at 7:30 P.M.; however, the rain that was previously referred to finally rolled in just before pre-race ceremonies thus delaying the race for nearly an hour.  Ultimately the race was won by Ryan Blaney driving for Penske Racing when he took the lead from Kyle Busch with only 6 laps remaining.

Denny Hamlin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. wreck at Bristol on lap 162
Photo Credit:

Compared to Friday, Saturday at Bristol is much slower when it comes to on track activities.  The only on track activity is the Sprint Cup Race which began at 7:30 P.M. One of the most unique things at Bristol has to be driver introductions.  Each driver picks his or her own song and introduces themselves to the fans.  Ultimately the race was slowed by 9 cautions.  The most talked about caution from the race occurred on lap 162 when Denny Hamlin crashed from the race lead and collected Dale Earnhardt Jr.  Once Hamlin exited his car, he proceeded to wait for Kevin Harvick to come back around the track and throw his HANS device at his window to show his displeasure.

As for leaders of the race, there were 16 lead changes among 9 different drivers.  Some of these leaders included Kasey Kahne who was seeking a win to ensure a spot in the Chase, the last ten races of the season, also Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, and the eventual race winner Joey Logano.

Joey Logano wins at Bristol Motor Speedway
Photo Credit: AP Photo/The Bristol Herald-Courier, Andre Teague
As I previously stated, Joey Logano scored his first Bristol win while driving for Penske Racing thus solidifying a Bristol sweep for Penske and Ford Racing.  Logano's win at Bristol was his third win of the season where winning has become so much more important.  Winning a single race this season ensures a spot in the Chase where 16 drivers will compete for the championship.

So that's a wrap on Bristol for 2014.  The series will return to Thunder Valley April 17-19, 2015.  As for this weekend, the Truck Series will be going to Canada to run at the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park while the Nationwide Series and the Sprint Cup Series will be going to Atlanta.

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