It’s the track where Kyle Busch swept the Sprint Cup Nationwide and Truck Series races in 2010, where Rusty Wallace earned the first claimed his first Cup win and where Cale Yarborough led all 500 laps in his 1973 victory.
Now it seems “Thunder Valley” could make history yet again.
According to multiple reports, Virginia Tech and Tennessee will play at the venue in 2016. It’s expected Bristol could hold up to 150,000-160,000 fans, which would easily eclipse the previous record of 115,109 at Michigan Stadium when the Wolverines hosted Notre Dame on Sept. 7.
Bristol, Tenn. is approximately and hour and a half from Blacksburg, Va., and Knoxville, making it a perfect location for the teams to play for the first time since the 2009 Peach Bowl.
The game won’t be the first at Bristol, which hosted a preseason game between the Redskins and the Eagles in 1961, but it will be the first college game and one that track owner Bruton Smith has been working on for some time.
He made a public offer of $20 million a piece to the schools in 2005, but there was concern from Tennessee about the matchup due largely to the logistics.
With Bristol’s crown jewel event, the night race, running in August, the track would need time to level a playing surface, making a November meeting the most logical time of the season. But with that coming in the middle of conference play, Tennessee didn’t have much wiggle room with its schedule, and the talks ultimately fell by the wayside.
It’s unclear when the matchup will occur, but the schools are expected to make a formal announcement Monday at 11 a.m. ET at the track.
Bristol isn’t the only NASCAR track that has discussed hosting a game. Daytona International Speedway president Joie Chitwood III has expressed interest — especially in pairing Florida and Florida State — and Las Vegas Motor Speedway has discussed UNLV playing there.