Race:Irwin Tools Night Race
Date:Saturday August 25th, 2012
Track:Bristol Motor Speedway
Time:7 pm ET
by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper, Predictem.com
Greg Biffle is one happy camper this week, coming off his win at Michigan on Sunday.He beat 2ndplace Brad Keselowski, while Jimmie Johnson suffered engine problems, blowing up in the closing laps.That being said, a lot of the motors out of the Hendrick camp seemed to have some serious issues, with Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon also having their fair share of problems this weekend.Interesting side note: Brad Keselowski is now rank 1stin the driver power rankings, with Johnson falling to 3rd.Honestly, I dont even remember the last time Jimmie fell from the throne.
He will have much to prove, as will all of the Hendrick drivers, as we head into the newly resurfaced (again!) Bristol Motor Speedway.Per drivers and fans, Bristols repaving for the spring took out every ounce of character from this historical track.As much as we expect to see bumping and spinning and wrecking, the spring race proved a huge disappointment to fans, leaving the stands with empty seats, and many at that, for the first time in probably decades.Bristol track engineers are hoping that this return to the original Bristol surface will bring back fiercer racing and more enjoyment that the fans have come to expect from this particular track.
Quite frankly, theres nothing like a Saturday night short track race.Bristol is known for being the best host of those races.We are headed to this 0.533 mile oval track with 36 degree banking in the turns and 16 degree banking on the straights.While Richmond and Martinsville are also awesome short tracks, Bristol is the only one where we see this degree of banking, causing some of the spectacular racing that distinguishes it from the other tracks.With the backstretch and frontstretch only coming in at 650 feet, its easy to see how brakes, tires, and drivers patience can play a large role into how the race turns out.
It is not uncommon for the fans to see the rotors glowing red as cars come into the turns, drivers slamming on brakes to negotiate the banking.That wear and tear translates to the tires too.Drivers have to take care of their tires here to maintain track position.While lap cars are certainly a challenge and can hinder or help the leader, fresh tires can enable someone to maintain a lead from the rest of the field.
When it comes to this track, we have 2 scenarios of winners.We have those guys like Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch who have no patience whatsoever but have the aggressiveness to simply drive to the win.Then we have the other guys like Jeff Gordon who are more calculated in their techniques and tend to play it safe.That being said, we also have to consider that those guys with patience are the ones who are on the bubble or the outskirts of the bubble for the Chase.Its go-time now foreveryone.I have a feeling that with the lack of patience that everyone is going to have along with the new old surface that we are going to see some awesome racing.Here is a look at your potential winners for this weekend:
My Pick to Win:Brad Keselowski
Middle of the Road Pick:Jeff Burton
Dark Horse Pick:Marcos Ambrose
Along with being number one in the power rankings, Keselowski simply has some seriously good stats at Bristol.In fact, hes won the last 2 races here.Hes going to have to watch out for Kyle Busch, in my opinion.Busch has had some less than stellar performances over the last few weeks and hes definitely hungry for a visit to victory lane.With a total of 5 wins here, you can never count Kyle out.Jeff Burton is definitely someone to watch also.Hes strong on these short tracks.Chalk it up to his experience on the Virginia short tracks, but Burton has a win here and plenty of experience to back up his potential.Marcos Ambrose is simply always an underdog.While he doesnt have any wins or poles here, hes proven this season that hes coming into his own as a NASCAR driver and has something to prove.One way or another, look for him to be up front at some point.
Heres a look at your current top 10 after Michigan:
3.Dale Earnhardt Jr.
6.Martin Truex Jr.
After Hamlin, theres a 33 point deficit to 11thplace Kasey Kahne.The points definitely look quite a bit different after Michigan, but simply because the top 10 seems to be separating themselves from the rest of the field.Bristol is probably going to do the same, but I think that we may see some guys in the top 15 shift positions as we are going to see some hard racing this Saturday night.