NASCAR Playoff Racing at Bristol, Weekend Primer

Get Ready for the Bass Pro Shop Night Race from Bristol Motor Speedway

Bristol Motor Speedway, Bristol, TN — September 15, 2023

Bristol Motor Speedway(BMS) hosts all three national series in playoff races at the “Last Great Colosseum” this weekend. There is an important update announced on Friday. The Cup Series Bass Pro Shop Night Race has been moved up to a 6:30 PM starting time. The change was prompted by a forecast for inclement weather late Saturday evening.

To open the news cycle from the media center, BMS President and General Manager announced the spring race from Bristol in 2024 will return to the concrete.

The dirt racing experience was an interesting experiment. Most of the sport’s loyal followers had been expecting this news. The press release was well-received; driver Cole Custer summed it up well. “Dirt racing at Bristol was fun, but it might be better if we raced on a dirt track that was built for that purpose.”

The problem for NASCAR is seating capacity. Eldora, the venue most mentioned as a great place to hold a Cup Series race, only has 22,000 permanent grandstand seats. Compare that to Bristol’s 146,000 capacity, and it comes down to economic math. However, if you cannot fill the seats, 120,000 times zero is costly also.

Dale Jr. to Race at Bristol

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will make his first start at Bristol Motor Speedway since he retired from full-time driving in 2017 on Friday night, Sept. 15, during the Food City 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race. He will drive the No. 88 Hellmann’s Mayonnaise Chevy for JR Motorsports in the race.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. / Lasco Press Photo

Safety First Always

Ryan Blaney crashed hard, hitting the inside wall just past the end of the pit road at Nashville Superspeedway in June. The impact occurred in an area of the track’s concrete walls that were not equipped with safer barriers.

After the incident, NASCAR looked at all the tracks they race on to see if other potentially dangerous conditions existed. It was determined that the inside walls in the corners at Bristol could be a potential hazard. Especially considering the speeds that are reached with cars racing on the high banks.

NASCAR consulted with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, developers of the safer barrier, for recommendations on how to remedy the condition. It was determined that a tire-stack barrier would be the best energy-absorbant material for the crashes at Bristol. Impacts are almost always secondary to an on-track crash or contact with the outer wall first.

NASCAR partner Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company donated new tires, with slight blemishes or defects, to construct the barrier. The tires are held together with machine screws and covered in a soft barrier to appear as a wall. It looks natural many seasoned observers at the track did not realize a significant change had been made.

Lasco Press Photo

Kudos to everyone involved. Hopefully, the upgrade is never tested.

More NASCAR News

Matt Kaulig of Kaulig Racing announced Daniel Hemric would pilot the #31 car in the NASCAR Cup Series for 2024 and beyond. This is the second time Hemric will fill a seat full-time in the Cup Series.

Left to Right, Chris Rice, Daniel Hemric, and Matt Kaulig / Lasco Press Photo

Trackhouse Racing and Shane van Gisbergen announced an agreement that will see the three-time Supercar champion and winner of NASCAR’s inaugural Chicago Street Race move to America to drive in a combination of races in NASCAR’s three national series in the 2024 season.

Shane van Gisbergen / Trackhouse Racing Photo

Trackhouse has agreed to build a 2024 program that will put the 34-year-old Auckland, New Zealand native in select races in NASCAR’s Cup, Xfinity, and Craftsman Truck Series, plus some late model and other races.

Since shocking the NASCAR world on July 2 by winning his Cup Series debut, van Gisbergen has set his sights on launching a NASCAR career.

“I’m proud of what I have achieved here in Australia, but I’m excited by this new chapter in my career and the opportunities that it brings.” Said Gisbergen. “It is time for a new challenge, and this adventure into NASCAR will be the biggest challenge of my career and one I’m really looking forward to. I want to thank Justin Marks (Trackhouse founder and owner) and everyone at Trackhouse Racing who have taken a chance on me and given me this opportunity. I’m excited to get to America and get the season started.”

Brad Keselowski Talks Fire Safety

This week, Brad Keselowski was asked about the fires that broke out on the pit road during refueling and tire change stops.

“I think fires on pit road kind of go hand-in-hand, unfortunately, but we’re doing everything we can over the years, innovations to try and mitigate the risk or the damage along the way.”

“I think the design of the Next Gen wheel and nut lends itself to more fire risk. There’s no easy solution to it. We just try to make sure we have good equipment to cope with the fires, and we’ve done a good job with that – knock on wood.”

“There are a couple of things to go on. I think first-off: There’s one big nut rather than five little nuts, which is a change. The socket needed has many different points, so the shower of sparks is different. Then last but not least – and this may be the most important – whether it be the Xfinity car or Truck, the old wheel we used to compete with had a really deep dish to it. The sparks would tend to roll in that dish and stay inside the wheel assembly, whereas this car has a really shallow dish to the wheel, and it tends to shoot out the sparks or expel the sparks onto the ground, where there’s going to be a little fuel spillage.”

Joey Logano Talks About Bristol

Joey Logano enters tomorrow’s NASCAR Cup Series just 12 points above the cut line before the Round of 12. Is he feeling the pressure of playoff racing? Nah.

Joey Logano / Lasco Press Photo

“I like Bristol. It’s my favorite track. I love going there. It’s a great stadium environment with the fans right there. It’ll be a tough, grueling 500 laps around there. The track changes a lot from what you have in practice to what you have at the end of the race. It’s pretty cool.”

Will Logano advance? I would not bet against him.

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series at Bristol

Thursday evening at the “World’s Fastest Half Mile,” the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series continued their playoffs. Corey Heim made a late race pass for the win after Christian Eckes led 150 of the 200 laps in the race.

Tickets are still available for the NASCAR Cup Series Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Never been to a race at Bristol? It is a must-see bucket list event. For Sure.