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Last updateTue, 04 Nov 2014 9pm

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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.

Read more: Making Bristol Motor Speedway history

Second time around for the Next Generation

The NASCAR Nationwide Series new car made its second appearance last weekend at Michigan International Speedway. The race featured a different track distance and layout than its debut at the 2.5 mile Daytona International Speedway. It may not have had the storybook outcome of the historic July 2nd race, an emotional win for Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the No. 3 Wrangler Chevrolet, but it does have the same air of excitement aimed at the new models for Dodge (Challenger), Ford (Mustang), and the sporty look of the Chevrolet Impala.
Too bad GM will not race its new Camaro. It seems like a natural and a big step forward; the big three manufacturers each racing their new generation pony cars. It also gives the Nationwide series a distinctively different look from the cars in the Cup Series. Unfortunately, Toyota does not have a pony car so they will stick with their Camry. Maybe someone can put a bug in GM’s ear. Get with it guys. Race the Camaro.

Read more: Second time around for the Next Generation

First and foremost “Smoke” is a racer

Coming into last Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen, the talk was all about Tony Stewart. A notoriously slow starter each season, Stewart can generally be counted on to hit his stride as the season moves into the summer months.
For whatever reason, this season has been a bit different. Heading into last weekend, 21 races into the season “Smoke” had yet to visit victory lane.
He is one of eight winners from last year who have yet to win a race in 2010. Stewart is in pretty good company as several other top name drivers have also failed to garner a win so far this season; Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Mark Martin, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, and Brian Vickers.

Read more: First and foremost “Smoke” is a racer

See no evil, Hear no evil, Speak no evil

“Keep Your Trap Shut” 

Things seem to be getting a bit more rocky in the kingdom of NASCAR by the week.  A season that promised to get back to some good old fashioned fender banging racing and began with the words, “Have at it boys,”  has become the season of  “Keep your trap shut.”    
Declining attendance and TV ratings, topped off by the a day-long national TV display of empty grandstands at the recent Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, have really got the sports powers that be with their knickers in a twist.  It’s circle-the-wagons time at NASCAR headquarters.  

Read more: See no evil, Hear no evil, Speak no evil

On the way to Sprint Cup Championship

Brickyard 400 

It doesn’t happen every year,  but if, as they say, history repeats itself, last Sunday’s winner at Indianapolis could have a date with NASCAR history following the Ford 400 in Miami on Nov. 21.
Eight times during the Brickyard 400’s 16-year existence the race winner has capped his season with the Sprint Cup Series title. Even more impressive, 14 of those 16 race winners have been a past, present, or future Sprint Cup champion.  
Those are pretty strong odds with just six aces remaining in the final ten race countdown of the “Race to the Chase,” the ten race summer stretch that sets the field for the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Standings leader Kevin Harvick and Ricky Rudd are the only non-champion drivers to win the Brickyard 400 (Rudd in 1997 and Harvick in 2003). Right now the spotlight is squarely on Harvick who has bounced back from a win-less 2009 season that saw him miss the “Chase,” to enjoy a career year in 2010.   

Read more: On the way to Sprint Cup Championship

Harvick is in control heading to Indy

In spite of his near disastrous 34th place finish last Saturday night at Chicagoland,  Kevin Harvick has a 103 point lead over second place driver Jeff Gordon as the circuit takes a rare weekend off before heading to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.
With just seven races left to set the field for this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup, all three Richard Childress Racing teams are in this year’s Chase. Jeff Burton continued his smooth steady drive for the Chase with a seventh place finish at Chicago.  Clint Boyer’s fourth place finish Saturday night was enough to knock Dale Earnhardt Jr. out of the top 12 and secure the final spot.  Boyer heads to Indy with a 15-point lead over Jr.  

Read more: Harvick is in control heading to Indy

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