Few know what the racing will look like on the altered surface at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway this weekend, and snap judgments will abound after the race as to whether it was a success.
The problem is Bristol may be in a no-win situation.
Already it looks very unlikely Bristol will have anything close to a sell-out on Saturday night. In the past, even when the March race under-performed, the summer night race still sold out or came close to it.
So after the very public way track owner Bruton Smith went about ordering the changes to the track, if the crowd Saturday night is down from last year, does that mean the move was a failure?
Whether some want to believe it or not, the economy still drives many of the ticket-buying decisions in NASCAR right now. People have more disposable income these days, but they’re still careful with it.
Lower ticket sales could easily be attributed to economics, but that same argument was made for the lower attendance at the past two spring races and nobody wanted to hear that. The answer was only “fix the track.”
The progressive banking added to the track in 2007 produced side-by-side competition in which passes could be executed without re-arranging a competitor’s doors and fenders and lately resulted in reduced caution periods. However, the results were different depending on which NASCAR series was competing.
If the racing is deemed “great” on Saturday night, perhaps fans will overlook empty seats. Those who didn’t want a change, to be sure, will look to those seats as proof the changes didn’t increase attendance – which, in public comments at least, was what was said to prompt the change.
Last week’s Sprint Cup race winner, Greg Biffle, called the reconfiguration “a shot in the dark.”
He’s right. On Saturday night, we’ll see what – if anything – it hit.
Bayne’s car to honor Pat Summitt: Tennessee native Trevor Bayne returns to his home state for Friday night’s Nationwide race at Bristol with a paint scheme honoring one of the state’s biggest icons, former University of Tennessee women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt.
Bayne’s No. 60 Ford will feature the phrase “We Back Pat.” The Volunteer-orange car is part of a promotion to raise awareness for The Pat Summitt Foundation, which raises funds and awareness to fight Alzheimer’s.
Summitt will serve as grand marshal of the Food City 250. In 38 years at Tennessee, Summitt led the Volunteers to eight NCAA championships.
Spanish-language broadcasts expand: Fox Deportes and NASCAR announced this week that they are teaming up to provide the sport’s most expansive Spanish-language broadcasts with coverage of 15 Cup races as well as original programming, daily news segments and weekly updates starting in 2013.
Of the 15 race broadcasts, Fox Deportes will carrysix live Cup races, including a Spanish-language broadcast of the Daytona 500 for the first time.
Rogers penalized by NASCAR: NASCAR this week fined Dave Rogers, crew chief of Kyle Busch’s No. 18 Toyota team in the Cup series, $25,000 for improperly attached weight and race equipment that does not conform to NASCAR rules during a practice session at Michigan last weekend.
Rogers was also placed on probation until Oct. 3. Car chief Wesley Sherrill was also placed on probation until Oct. 3.
NASCAR reinstates Fike: NASCAR reinstated former Truck Series driver Aaron Fike after he completed NASCAR’s Substance Abuse Policy Road to Recovery Program. Fike was suspended on July 11, 2007 following a drug-related arrest.
Texas race dates set: Texas Motor Speedway will host the Nationwide and Cup series on April 11-13 2013 and Trucks, Nationwide and Cup on Oct. 31-Nov. 3 2013.