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Making Bristol Motor Speedway history

Last Saturday Night marked  the 100th Cup Series Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.  The track’s original owners Larry Carrier and Carl Moore opened the famous half mile track in 1961. At the time it was named Bristol International Speedway. In the original concept the track was a perfect half-mile as opposed to the .553 mile oval it is today. It was originally a lot flatter and was an asphalt surface, unlike today’s high banked concrete surface.
The original configuration for the Speedway had concrete bleachers that held 20,000 fans.  Today the track’s grandstands have seating for 160,000 race fans. What hasn’t changed over the past 100 races is the action and competitive drama.  In 1961, Fred Lorenzen sat on the pole for the track’s first Cup race. Jack Smith won the race after dominating most of the event and leading 243 laps.

The 60’s had many different winners, but the two drivers capturing the most victories were Fred Lorenzen with three wins and David Pearson with four. The 1970’s was the decade of Cale Yarborough. He dominated the Cup series, winning eight times at Bristol. In 1976 and ‘77 he swept both events, becoming the first driver to win four consecutive races at Bristol.

In the 1980’s,  Darrell Waltrip, driving for the legendary Junior Johnson, became the track’s all-time winner with 12 wins.  He also became the first and only driver to win six straight races at Bristol.  The streak went from 1982 through 1984. As the 1980’s faded into the 90’s, Dale Earnhardt and Rusty Wallace were the dominate drivers, each notching nine wins at the tough half-mile track.
Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch lead active drivers with five wins each at Bristol, but look out for little brother Kyle.  He now has four Bristol Cup series wins.
Last weekend Kyle Busch found his groove and created some racing history of his own. There have been numerous times that a single driver has won both the Nationwide or truck race and the Cup race on a given weekend, but never in the history of NASCAR has a single driver swept all three races, Camping World Trucks, Nationwide Series, and the Sprint Cup races on a single weekend.
Kyle Busch’s amazing weekend actually began with Wednesday night’s O’Reilly 200, Camping World Truck race.  Busch earned the pole, but since the crew had to make some repairs to the engine after qualifying, Busch was forced to start at the rear of the field.  He stormed through the field and led the final 116 laps.  It was his 3rd win in only eight starts in the truck series this season.
Friday night was the Food City 250 for the Nationwide Series.  For much of the race Brad Keselowski set the pace, Busch finally caught up with Keselowski, and the two young chargers waged a stirring side-by-side duel for about 15 laps.  On lap 193, Busch passed Keselowski, pulled up in front of him and expected Keselowski to sweep back underneath him. Instead, Keselowski collided with the rear of Busch’s car, sending Busch lightly into the outside wall. Busch stormed back and spun him out in the next corner. After that it was all Kyle Busch for the remainder of the race. The win was the 10th Nationwide race win this year for the younger Busch brother, and the 40th Nationwide win of his career. Incidentally, he has accomplished this amazing win record in only 193 Nationwide starts.
Saturday night was the big attraction of the week, the Irwin Tools Night Race for the Sprint Cup Series.  Busch passed David Reuitmann to take the lead  on the 429th lap of 500. As the laps wound down with Kyle Busch in control and winding up a feat no driver had ever accomplished, spotter Eddie D’Horst was heard on the radio saying, “We’re in the presence of greatness.”  Following the race, his crew chief David Rogers said, “Kyle Busch is a special driver. There’s a lot of fans that boo him, but it’s an absolute honor to work with Kyle Busch and I couldn‘t be happier to do so.” Saturday night’s win was the third Cup win this year for Busch and the 19th of his career. When you stop to realize he is only 25 years old, it’s scary to think what the young man might accomplish before his racing career is over.  
You may reach Pete Barber at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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