Rain actually may help promote better Bristol racing
BRISTOL, Tenn. – Kurt Busch did not seem upset about having to spend an extra day at Bristol Motor Speedway, where the Food City 500 will be run today after a one-day rain delay.
The unrelenting downpour that washed out Sunday’s original start time was welcome, according to Busch.
“The rain is somewhat of a blessing in disguise, you could say, because the track was talking about laying down more VHT and they can’t do it while it’s wet,” said Busch, who will be seeking his sixth career win at the short track when the green flag finally flies today at 1 p.m. ET (live on FOX).
“VHT” was the buzzword all weekend at Bristol. It refers to the resin-type adhesive substance that has been applied to the lower groove in an effort to promote more grip at least in that one lane at the .533-mile track.
But it appeared to mostly throw the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers for a loop during one practice last Friday and two on Saturday before the rains hit. Now they’re hoping the rain will help today’s race develop into more of a two-lane affair.
“The VHT is like a grip applicator and you have to heat it up to make it work. … We have to have more cars out there to heat it up, so it’s going to be like ice when we first start off and then the grip will come back once we do heat it up after this rain delay,” Busch said.
Bottom line on the bottom groove: Busch did not want to see more VHT applied to the track. He’d rather see a good bit of it washed away.
Matt Puccia, crew chief for the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford driven by Trevor Bayne, agrees.
“I don’t think they’ve prepped the track since last week, so from all the rain we had (Saturday) night, and the rain we’ve had over the last couple of days, the VHT is slowly but surely getting wiped off,” Puccia said. “In looking at it (Sunday) morning after the XFINITY race (on Saturday), it looked a little less coated down there in the bottom groove.
“All that being said, I think that you’re going see the top groove move up and you’ll see more of the two and three-lane racing that we’ve traditionally seen here.”
That’s what Busch is counting on.
“I’m hopeful that once we burn through some of that top surface, and we get through to where we’re starting to wear it away, then the outside groove will come into play,” he said.
“Hopefully, you’ll have a bottom and a top once it gets down to it.”
Puccia said this isn’t first time this sort of thing has happened in NASCAR, nor will it be the last.
“It’s a little bit of a guessing game, but, fortunately, we’ve got a pretty decent notebook,” Puccia said. “This isn’t the first time this has happened where we’ve practiced the bottom and ended up racing the top, so I think we have an idea of what changes we have to make because, at the end of the day, I think that’s where we’re going to be racing.”