Bristol, TN 08/25/2007
Article by Jeff Kluss/SIT
Well on Friday it hit 102 degrees and on the infield it had to be 120. This writer has never been anywhere that it was that hot and humid to boot, but the new track surface was the coolest ever. Rusty Wallace explained to me the new track surface as being concave starting at 24 degrees and progressing to 28 degrees. He actually ran a string from the top of the track to the bottom and at the center it was a ten inch stretch to the surface of the track. Rusty said that he knew there would be at least two grooves if not three, and between practices and the races it proved out to be three grooves.
Bruton Smith and the folks at SMI (Speedway Motorsports Inc.) did a great job on the new surface and Bristol actually got better than great. The drivers and teams all approved with only a couple of exceptions. The first 126 laps of the race didn’t even provide a caution which for Bristol is nothing short of incredible. There are other tracks that have “progressive” surfaces (Miami Homested in partcular), but none have a smooth progressive surface as Bristol now has. Coming out of the turns there is a smooth transition to the straightaways that has never been seen anywhere which was the reason for the reduced number of cautions.
Kasey Kahne led the most laps last night (305 of 500), but in the end it was Carl Edwards in the #99 Office Depot car that produced a back-flip in celebration of another victory. It was a night which provided great entertainment and some serious competition.
Image by: Jeff Kluss/SIT
Kasey Kahne appeared to have a sure victory
In a post-race interview, Kasey had the following answers to questions fielded by the media.
“We couldn’t (catch up to Edwards). Those guys did a good job. They beat us to the end. We dominated I think the first half. The car was really good. We just got a little bit, the car felt good still at the end. He was just cutting through the center a touch better than me and we ran second. It was good. It was a great weekend for everyone at Gillett Evernham. These teams did a great job and everybody stepped up. This is the first time that we’ve run good with McDonalds on the car, but it was nice to get a Dodge Avenger up front with McDonalds on it.”
TALK ABOU T THE RACE TONIGHT: “We started good you know. Track position was key. We qualified perfect yesterday and had track position all night long. We had a great car. We had McDonalds on the car and just ran up front. The lap traffic worked good for us. I was able to get around a lot of it fairly quickly. Some of the cars hold you up and other ones you can get by quick. We just battled. The first 300 laps or 250 laps we were probably the best car. After that I think Carl came on a little stronger there at the end and I just couldn’t get back to him. He was a touch better through the center of the corner and he would get back to the throttle a little quicker and down the straighaways. It was close. He was just a touch better there at the end. It was fun. It was exciting to get a good run in our Dodge Avenger. It has been a while since we’ve had a top five. Its been a while since we’ve run up front all night long and had a pole. We just kind of put the whole thing together. The whole team stepped up and did a really good job. George Gillett was here. It was good to have him here. He came from Russia. I don’t really know why he was there yesterday, but it was nice to have our new owner here, and Ray (Evernham) and everybody just stepped up and just did a great job.”
HOW MUCH DID THE COT RUN TONIGHT MEAN TO GILLETT EVERNHAM MOTORSPORTS: “We were strong here the first time, but we were definitely a lot stronger tonight as the No. 9 car. The other cars didn’t run as well as we did and that was a little confusing, but the No. 9 car was definitely stronger tonight than what its been. These guys have spent a lot of time trying to develop that car and make it faster and make it better. I’m looking forward to running that car the rest of the year when we do. You know next weekend we go to California and I wish that was a COT race, but its not.”
HOW MUCH OF A SHOT IN THE ARM IS A WEEKEND LIKE THIS FOR YOU? “It feels good, you know. I think it will feel a lot better tomorrow when I can think about it and sit back. I’m going to do a couple sprint car races this week and enjoy myself and go home. We have a charity race for the Kasey Kahne Foundation Wednesday Night at Skagit Speedway and Tony (Stewart) is coming. It’ll be a blast and hopefully we raise a lot of money for the Ronald McDonald House. To run well, you know you go into a season and you think you’re going to run well – you don’t, and then to get a great weekend here like we did this weekend feels good. We are just going to try and carry it on. Next weekend we’re back to California and we are back to that same car that ran 31st with last week, so hopefully we do something this week to make that performance come up a touch next week.”
Image by: Jeff Kluss/SIT
Carl Edwards proved that patience pays with a great victory
Another bit of controversy was also provided by Richard Childress Racing having to endure a potential court battle between AT&T and NASCAR since Cingular was allowed to run their colors in spite of the sponsorship deal between NASCAR and Nextel/Sprint. Now that AT&T has taken over Cingular and has been running their logos on this car, the poop has hit the fan and the lawyers are in overtime. It was certainly strange seeing the #31 car of Jeff Burton running around the track with no logo. This will be interesting to see what transpires between the politics of NASCAR sponsorship and the likes of the #31 team.
A clean #31 with no sponsor logos
We would like to congratulate the folks at Roush-Fenway and the #99 Team for a great victory and a big thumbs up to Carl Edwards for his first NASCAR short-track win. But we also have to congratulate Ray Evernham and George Gillett Jr. for finally getting it together for the second half of the Season. Kasey with his Busch win on Friday night and his stellar second place finish last night can finally breath a little easier. Rest assured, it appears that the #9 guys have gotten a good handle on the Car of Tomorrow.