Wednesday night's Truck Series race at Bristol was the first glimpse – the exit polls, if you will – at the changes that Bristol Motor Speedway made over the spring and summer. And if you were expecting something completely different than the racing that we saw in March, well, you're probably looking for a different set of results.
After the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series races in March, Speedway Motorsports Inc. Bruton Smith promised drastic changes to the track, and those changes involved the grinding of the top groove of the track to reduce the banking from 30 to 28 degrees. When the track was repaved, progressive banking was added, allowing cars to sometimes run three-wide in the corners. And that progressive banking meant that the preferred line on the track wasn't on the bottom, but rather smack dab in the middle.
Wednesday night, Timothy Peters led all 204 laps en route to the win. Yes, you read that correctly. Peters, who started second on the inside of the track, snuck ahead of Cale Gale off of turn 2 on the first lap and no one ever mounted a serious challenge. On the race's ensuing restarts, Peters picked the outside line, and was able to pinch the second place truck down in the corner after the wave of the green flag and once he was clear, was unbeatable.
And that was the story of the evening. While the lane nearest the wall was out of play, the middle (well, the outside) groove was still the preferred line around the track, making passes on the bottom of the banking incredibly tough, and sometimes downright impossible.
Was it a bad race, especially because there wasn't a pass for the lead? No, not at all. In fact, the trucks stacked up side-by-side lap after lap because of the low-groove difficulties made made for an entertaining race -- if you liked what you saw in March, anyway. Yeah, there was your typical short track contact, but there was no rooting and gouging for position on the bottom of the track like at Bristol 10 years ago. It felt like watching any other Bristol race in the last five years. Heck, if you weren't aware of the changes, you may not have known there were any made.
Will we see more of the same Friday and Saturday? We're about to find out.
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- Bristol Motor Speedway
- Timothy Peters