Trucks have first dibs on Bristol's new surface
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - When the Camping World Truck Series competes at Bristol Motor Speedway on Wednesday night, it will be the first major NASCAR race held on the track's new concrete surface.
The 0.533-mile, high-banked Bristol oval underwent a surface alteration following the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races there in March. The top lane in the variable banking around the track was shaved. Track officials are hoping the reconfiguration will lead to the return of traditional racing at Bristol, where there is more beating and banging among competitors.
Fan feedback after the March races at Bristol convinced personnel from both the track and its parent company, Speedway Motorsports Inc., to make the changes. Variable banking was applied to Bristol's surface in the summer of 2007.
"The track surface pretty much stayed the same," two-time Truck Series champion Todd Bodine said. "All they did was grind one groove up by the wall and take the progressive banking away. It's going to make it harder to make a high line work in the track, but Bristol is always tough, and I consider it a wild card for everyone, since you never know what's going to happen regardless of the changes to the track.
"Since there isn't a whole lot of room to move around and find a higher groove, I think there will definitely be a lot more side-by-side racing. The Truck Series always puts on an awesome race, and I think you'll see that and more."
Heading into the 200-lap truck race at Bristol, just 25 points separate the top-five drivers. Rookie Ty Dillon finished sixth last Saturday at Michigan International Speedway and moved into a points tie with Timothy Peters, who finished 13th there. James Buescher, the only repeat winner after the first 12 races this season, is six markers out of the lead.
"The points battle is really heating up, and now that we're only six points behind first, there's a very real possibility that we could leave Bristol with the lead," Buescher said.
Justin Lofton is fourth in the standings (-17), and Parker Kligerman sits in the fifth spot. Kligerman made his debut in the No. 7 truck for Red Horse Racing, finishing an impressive fourth.
Nelson Piquet Jr. is coming off of his first career truck win this past weekend. With the victory at Michigan, Piquet climbed up to eighth in the standings. He is 57 points behind the leader.
"Last weekend in Michigan was a dream come true for me," said Piquet, who became the 10th different race winner this year. "I couldn't be more proud of my team, and I'm hoping to get them another win this Wednesday night. I really enjoy racing at Bristol Motor Speedway. It's a driver's track. It's very short and very challenging."
Piquet is also scheduled to compete in Friday's Nationwide Series race at Bristol. Earlier this year, he won a NASCAR K&N Pro Series East event at this track.
Brad Keselowski is the only Sprint Cup regular entered in this race. Keselowski is also the only driver competing in all three of NASCAR's national touring series events at Bristol this week.
Forty drivers are on the preliminary entry list for the UNOH 200.
Series: NASCAR Camping World Truck. Date: Wednesday, August 22. Race: UNOH 200. Site: Bristol Motor Speedway. Track: 0.533-mile oval. Start time: 8 p.m. (et). Laps: 200. Miles: 106.6. 2011 Winner: Kevin Harvick. Television: Speed. Radio: Motor Racing Network (MRN)/SIRIUS NASCAR Satellite.
08/21 16:57:18 ET