"World's Fastest Half-Mile" Awaits Sprint Cup And Nationwide Drivers
Both the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series' head to the high-banked concrete of Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend where patience and guts will play a huge factor in determining on-track success.
Dodge's Brad Keselowski is the most recent winner at the .533-mile track. He took his No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger R/T to victory lane last August. Patience is king and hot tempers are standard when racing on what some categorize as "a clothes dryer with 43 matchbox cars racing around in it".
Dodge has seven Sprint Cup wins at Bristol and have finished first, second or third in seven of the last 12 Sprint Cup race at "The World's Fastest Half-Mile Track" and inside the top 10 in 10 of the last 12 races.
"I think the question that'll be on every engineer's mind this week is which Bristol are we going to see," said Dodge NASCAR engineer Howard Comstock. "When the Sprint Cup Series visited Bristol in March of 2011, the pole speed was 128.014 mph. When we ran Bristol in August of 2011, the pole speed was 122.811 mph.
"On this fast, tight, high-banked oval, the possibility of a six mph spread in top speeds is enough to give any engineer nightmares," he added. "Faster speeds by that margin mean different gearing, different suspension travel, and different tire loads, not to mention less time for your driver to react to a chassis that's not perfect. There will be plenty of things that all of the engineers in the series are going to have to be ready for this week."
Keselowski looks for his recent Bristol success to break the seesaw start to the 2012 season. Fast race cars haven't been the problem for Keselowski, currently 21st in the driver standings.
"I could not be happier with the speed that we've shown in our Miller Lite Dodges to start the season," Keselowski said. "It's unfortunate that we've encountered the issues that we have because I honestly believe we should have top-five finishes in every race thus far. That's racing, though. There are two very large pieces to winning a race - speed and execution. We have the speed. Now we just need to learn from our mistakes and execute better."
Penske Racing teammate A.J. Allmendinger hopes to use Sunday afternoon's race at Bristol as a springboard to jumpstart his 2012 campaign. The first-year driver of the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger R/T is currently 30th in the driver standings, 43 points outside of the top 12.
"I've said from the start of the season that you've got to hit the singles before you can knock the home runs," said Allmendinger, who has a 14.7 average start and 29.7 average finish thus far this season. "That's certainly the situation going into Bristol. We need to hit a single. We need to have a race where we can run strong all day and not have the problems bite us.
"Every time I race at Bristol, I learn a little bit more about how I need to drive it and what I need to make the car better to drive it right. It's just a good overall balance. You need to be maybe just a tick tight, but you can't be too tight. You definitely need the back end in the race track through the center and up off the corner."
What You Need To Know
The Race: Food City 500 - Race 4 of 36
The Place: Bristol Motor Speedway
The Date: Sunday, March 18
The Time: 1:00 p.m. (ET)
The Track: .533-mile oval
The Distance: 500 laps/266.5 miles
Television: FOX, 12:30 p.m. (ET)
NASCAR Nationwide Series
Sam Hornish Jr. (No. 12 Alliance Truck Parts Dodge Challenger) returns to Bristol Motor Speedway for the first time since 2010 when he competed in the NSCS on the short-track. Hornish has made one Nationwide Series start at BMS, he finished 14th (2008). Brad Keselowski (No. 12 Discount Tire Dodge Challenger) has recorded one win, four top-five finishes and two poles in nine NNS starts at Bristol.
"I'm really happy with the speed in our Discount Tire Dodge Challenger," Keselowski said. "Speed is the foundation for everything we do. From there it is a matter of execution. I feel like we gave one away last weekend at Las Vegas. It happens to everyone. The championship - in this case the owner's championship for us - comes down to the team that minimizes their mistakes."
AMA Monster Energy Supercross Series
Hart and Huntington announced earlier this week that talented privateer rider Kyle Regal has been added to the lineup for the remainder of the season beginning this weekend at Indianapolis. The former Honda rider will join Josh Hansen for race 11 of the 17 AMA Monster Energy Supercross Series event at Lucas Oil Stadium. Teammates Ivan Tedesco, Josh Hill and Kyle Partridge all remain sidelined due to injuries.
SRT Motorsports on TV
(All Times Eastern)
Friday, March 16
10:30 a.m. - Nationwide Practice (SPEED)
12:30 p.m. - Sprint Cup Practice (SPEED)
3:30 p.m. - Sprint Cup Qualifying (SPEED)
Saturday, March 17
9:30 a.m. - Sprint Cup Practice (SPEED)
10:30 a.m. - Nationwide Qualifying (SPEED)
12:00 p.m. - Sprint Cup Final Practice (SPEED)
1:00 p.m. - Nationwide Countdown (ESPN)
2:00 p.m. - Nationwide Race (ESPN)
Sunday, March 18
10:30 p.m. - NASCAR Raceday (SPEED)
12:30 p.m. - NASCAR Pre-Race (Fox)
1:00 p.m. - Sprint Cup Food City 500 (Fox)