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NASCAR at Bristol: Shortrackin’ On A Saturday Night

Rusty NormanWhat could be better than spending a Saturday night watching short track racing under the lights? Nothing… and the only thing better than watching it at your local track is enjoying it at the world’s fastest half-mile track, Bristol Motor Speedway. It will be a night of fast cars on a high banked oval with hot tempers and likely more than a few banged up cars by the end of the night.

Another thing to watch for would be some confrontational situations that could develop simply because of the four sitting outside the top twelve trying to make it into the Chase. Now, I’m not saying there will fisticuffs, but there could be more than a few “discussions” before this night race is put to rest (like the one between Joey Logano and Ryan Newman last week.) Judging from the high emotions of last week’s race, this Saturday could be even more emotionally high charged. It all depends on how things go (and, of course, who puts who out.)

The biggest topic of discussion so far this week has been about the tires Goodyear brought. Everybody has something to say about them and not all of it is good. From listening in on conversations, it appears Goodyear brought a harder compound than last time (because they did have a few tire issues). When I say everybody has something to say about them, it seems most say the same thing… “They’re just different”, “the cars just feel different” and “we can’t seem to get any grip.” Fortunately, loose usually means fast but unfortunately, it also means unpredictable.

In qualifying many ran a higher groove than normal and commented they were faster and more comfortable there. Jimmie Johnson won the pole running the low line, complained about how loose the car was and was surprised at how fast he ran on his first lap. From this fan’s view, is appears it is going to be a night of loose race cars and I do predict there will be some drivers displaying frustration with those around them and the cars they are driving. The crew chiefs are going to have to hang tough tonight because I also predict they will be getting an ear full from their drivers.

I do look for the battle to continue between Clint Bowyer and Mark Martin. I know both are determined to make that 12th spot. Some have already given the spot to Bowyer, but I’m not so sure. Mark Martin isn’t the type to just throw in the towel as long as there is still a chance to take the spot. There is a bit more pressure on him and his crew Allan Gustafson but neither one of them is a quitter. Admittedly, the season hasn’t been what either of them wanted but they haven’t given up on trying to make the top 12.

Don’t forget, this is short track racing and anybody’s mistake on the track, or in the pits, can take more than one contender along with them and ruin their night. I expect on the track is the more likely place but the pits have become a battle ground and little things that happen there can make big differences on the track.

Another thing to keep in mind is you have the teams of Ryan Newman, Jamie McMurray and even Kasey Kahne that want to make it into that 12th spot, too. None of them are going to lay down and give anything away either; at least not until there is no chance left. This could be their last track at having a chance to make up a major portion of points on those ahead of them and I expect them to be more aggressive than usual simply because time is running out for them.

I’m not going to take much time trying to pick a winner, but I do expect Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Bush to be right up there fighting for the win. I’m not going to rule out the Roush Fords either. Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth and even Greg Biffle all had strong cars at one point or another in the practices and qualifying. Besides, they have made their presence known in obvious ways over the last several weeks. Any of the three could pull off a victory tonight.

Of all the back markers that have a shot, I can’t rule out Jeff Gordon. After last week’s performance in coming from the back to the front, (even though it didn’t turn out well for him), I never rule him out of being able to win at Bristol. With the way the weekend has started for him the odds are against him, but I do think he has to be considered a contender.

As usual, and in particular on this Saturday night, it is a hard night to pick a winner. (After all, this is short track racing and it is Bristol.) More than the ones I have mentioned have a chance at taking a victory tonight, but this is this fan’s view of how it will all go down tonight.

After all, this is short track racing and it is Bristol (and yes, I do know I just repeated myself…)

See ya next time… Rusty

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer

© August 21, 2010 – all rights reserved

Rusty Norman and

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By Rusty Norman

Amateur writer, NASCAR Fan, musician and former local Stock Car racer.