Delayed Bristol takeaways: The prep on the lower groove worked
Throughout 2016 we may have way too many quick thoughts for our post-race posts. So consider our Takeaways feature to be the home of our random and sometimes intelligent musings. Sometimes the post may have a theme. Sometimes it may just be a mess of unrelated thoughts. Make sure you tweet us your thoughts after the race or email your post-race rants via the link in the signature line below.
• We’ve enjoyed the races at Bristol Motor Speedway ever since the track was remodeled and the preferred groove moved up near the wall. But we really enjoyed Saturday/Sunday’s race (won by Kevin Harvick) given Bristol’s work on the bottom groove. In collaboration with NASCAR and the driver’s council, the track added a sticky resin substance on the bottom 18 inches or so of the track to make the bottom groove an option.
You likely noticed the dark strip along the bottom of the track and the fact that many drivers took the low groove immediately after restarts. In 2015, the low groove wouldn’t have been an option. The great thing about the work on the low groove was that it didn’t make the grooves evenly matched.
With two equal grooves, passing could have been incredibly difficult and drivers could have gotten stalled out, much like they would on a one-groove racetrack. Instead, the low groove was simply an option for drivers. Sometimes it was faster early in a run, other times it was available if a driver with more speed needed to make a pass on the bottom of the track late in a run.
“But I think it definitely has opened everybody’s eyes to saying, all right, that worked pretty darned good because the last few years we’ve been here, you get on the bottom of the racetrack and you are three or four tenths slower,” Harvick said. “And, you could hold your ground, you could get past lapped cars. It gave everybody an option to do something different, and as a driver, that’s what you want, you want options. You don’t want to get stuck behind a car that’s four or five tenths slower than you after you’ve just run them down from a half a lap and can’t pass him. It was exciting.”
Harvick suggested a similar treatment at Martinsville to allow for a second groove in the corners (which are concrete). That sounds like a hell of an idea. Can you imagine two-groove racing at Martinsville?
• Saturday night was our first trip to Bristol Motor Speedway. We headed over to the track for a fun weekend as fans and experienced first-hand what fans at rain-delayed races go through. Yeah, it isn’t fun.
This wasn’t an eye-opening experience, of course. We’ve been a part of many rain delays while working, but those can be easily passed with wireless internet and other options in the infield and media center. When you’re in the grandstands, you don’t have those luxuries.
Because of travel arrangements, we were unable to stay for the race on Sunday — it was happening as we were flying back to home base. And judging by the grandstands, we were part of a large majority of fans who didn’t have the opportunity to come back for a second day.
And while we made the most of our weekend in North Carolina and Tennessee, we feel for the fans who spent lots of their hard-earned money to see 30some laps of green-flag racing on Saturday night. Sometimes the weather simply doesn’t work in your favor, though it didn’t dampen our Bristol enthusiasm. We’ll be back for fun soon
• The oddest thing about the 10-car pileup that resulted when Kurt Busch got loose while racing for the lead happened at the end of the crash. What happened with Brian Scott? Did he have an equipment failure? A miscommunication with his spotter? Watch the yellow car at the back of the crash.
• It was impossible to avoid promotion for the Battle at Bristol when you’re at the track.
Biggest ever banner too? pic.twitter.com/M4VefOM14w
— Dr. Saturday (@YahooDrSaturday) August 21, 2016
We didn’t get a chance to ask, but we’re fascinated about the track’s strategy for selling alcohol at the event. There are no coolers allowed in the track for the game between Virginia Tech and Tennessee, though alcohol will be served.
With coolers, alcohol sales are still brisk at races. Without coolers at the football game, they may be overloaded.
• Saturday/Sunday’s race was sponsored by Bass Pro Shops and the NRA. Remember NASCAR’s statement about sponsorships after the NRA sponsored a race at Texas? Yeah, we do too. The apparent reversal of sponsorship stances shouldn’t be too surprising. This is the sanctioning body that removed events from Donald Trump’s properties in 2015 and had its CEO make a “personal and private” decision to endorse the Republican presidential candidate months later.
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Nick Bromberg is the editor of From The Marbles on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter!