Three-wide racing new to Bristol

BY Jeff Hammond • March 24, 2010

Well I will be the first to tell you that I was extremely pleased to see Jimmie Johnson get his first win at Bristol this past weekend.

The great part about it was that Johnson’s excitement was genuine. It was really cool to see someone who was as excited about winning their 50th race as they were about winning their first. Now I know what it’s like to win at Bristol and it’s very special to me. That’s how I could totally appreciate and enjoy the emotion he was showing.

I’ve had a lot of questions about “the old Bristol” and how it compares with the type of racing we saw this past weekend. The “new” Bristol requires a different type of approach.

Back in the day, if we had a late-race restart like we did Sunday, the leader at the restart probably would have automatically been the winner. Instead, this past Sunday we saw somebody surge late and take the lead. Now with double-file restarts, the two-groove racing and the idea of putting four tires on instead of worrying about track position, well lets face it, we are looking at a different Bristol.

When have you ever seen where two cars could race side by side at Bristol and even a third one split them down the middle? We saw that Sunday.

In the old days at Bristol you had attrition and getting caught in traffic had just as much effect on where you finished as did how you raced. That’s the unknown you had to deal with cause you never knew what was going to come out of it. So for some of the guys we see up there now, well I think it’s a byproduct of a new style of racing at Bristol that wasn’t there before.

Trust me when I tell you that drivers are unpredictable. When you throw in the fact that this Sunday is Martinsville, well you have to expect it to be rough and tumble. Don’t forget this will also be the debut of the rear spoiler. To me, I believe it will not only be a better race car, but even a better-looking car.

Martinsville is one of those places where you can literally knock the front fenders off your car and as long as you don’t lose a lap, you still have a shot to win the race. As we always tell you, Martinsville Speedway is unique.

After coming out of Bristol however, I really don’t know if there are a lot of guys out there with bad attitudes and scores to settle at Martinsville.

I don’t know, maybe we don’t always need to look for something to spice up the racing and simply appreciate what good side-by-side racing is. Maybe we don’t need to be looking for someone to run into the back of someone on the short tracks to call it good racing anymore.

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