By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service
Distributed by The Sports Exchange
RICHMOND, VA. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. said he does not expect the changes made to improve the racing at Bristol Motor Speedway to really change anything.
"As far as Bristol goes, I think the racing will be the same," Earnhardt said on Friday before NASCAR Sprint Cup practice at Richmond International Raceway. "I think the track is going to be the same."
Track owner Bruton Smith announced on Wednesday that the nature of racing at Thunder Valley will be dramatically altered for the better.
Falling attendance at the 16,000-seat race track sparked the track-grinding project designed to bring more excitement to racing on the .533-mile short track.
Grinding and lowering the degree of banking in the outside groove is designed to decrease a perceived advantage to the outside lane and promote closer racing with more contact between cars, according to Smith.
"Just grinding that groove is going to take a little grip away from it," Earnhardt said. "Once we lay the rubber back down, which we will, it will be just like the track is now -- which I think is fine. I don't think everybody needs to get too stirred up about it."
Jimmie Johnson, Earnhardt's Hendrick Motorsports teammate, said the grinding affect will not be known until there is racing.
"In one respect, I applaud Bruton for trying to make a change and for trying to do something, but we won't know what the race will be like until we're there," Johnson said.
Earnhardt said attendance is down because racing events are not as affordable as they used to be, including hikes in gas and hotel rates.