Tag:Bristol Motor Speedway
Posted on: March 5, 2012 7:36 pm
Edited on: March 5, 2012 7:39 pm

Jeffrey Earnhardt to make Bristol debut

By Pete Pistone

Image Detail
(There hasn't been an Earnhardt in a Ford since Dale Sr. back in 1983)

Jeffrey Earnhardt
will make his Bristol Motor Speedway debut in two weeks when the half-mile track hosts the NASCAR Nationwide Series. 

The fourth-generation driver will pilot the Rick Ware Racing Ford Mustang at the site of his grandfather Dale Earnhardt’s first Sprint Cup victory in 1979. It will also be the first time an Earnhardt drives a Ford since 1983 when Dale Earnhardt drove the No. 15 Ford for Bud Moore

Earnhardt, who is competing full time in the Rolex Grand Am series, has been working hard to add several sponsors to his Nationwide effort and has landed Sam’s Club as one for the upcoming Bristol race.

“Our sponsors have been great partners and having Sam’s Club and MET-Rx on the #15 Ford Mustang for Jeffrey’s Bristol debut is a great way to start 2012,” said team owner Rick Ware.

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Posted on: September 22, 2011 11:18 am

Bristol releases 2012 schedule

Posted by Pete Pistone

From News Release

Bristol Motor Speedway will again kick off NASCAR’s short track season in 2012 in March and will welcome fans back for its second Sprint Cup event on the last Saturday in August. 

The main event in March, the Food City 500, which is the fourth Sprint Cup race of the season, takes place March 18. The IRWIN Tools Night Race, the sport’s most popular event, takes place Aug. 25.

“We’re coming off of another spectacular August race week,” said BMS executive vice president and general manager Jerry Caldwell. “Overall, it was a great year, but we’re already looking for ways to make it even better in 2012. Once again, fans will get to experience Bristol early in the season and as always, our goal is to make certain it’s an unforgettable weekend, just like our August event.

“Everyone knows that when it comes to supporting their sport, race fans have no equal. And I’ll take that a step further by saying that I believe Bristol Motor Speedway’s fans are the most loyal and passionate in NASCAR. We simply have the best fans in the world and we can’t wait to have them back next year.”

NASCAR kicks off the BMS March race weekend with Ford Fan Friday March 16, followed by the Nationwide Series event March 17, and the Food City 500 Sprint Cup race March 18.

August race week will begin with the Camping World Truck Series/Whelen Modified Series UNOH Perfect Storm 150 doubleheader Aug. 22. The Food City 250 Nationwide Series race is Aug. 24, followed by the IRWIN Tools Night Race Aug. 25.

Season tickets, as well as March race weekend only tickets, are now available. To purchase tickets, please contact the BMS ticket office at its toll free number 1-866-415-4158 or 423-BRISTOL (274-7865). Tickets also may be purchased at www.bristoltix.com.


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Posted on: August 29, 2011 11:37 am

Around the Circuit: weekend web wrap

Posted by Pete Pistone

News, notes and observations from around the world wide web in the aftermath of Saturday night's IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway:

USA TODAY: "Red Hot Brad Keselowski Smokes the Field at Bristol Night Race"   

SCENE DAILY: "Is Bristol Too Tame now for Hard Core Fans?" 

JOHNSON CITY PRESS: "Bristol Gives Sport Much Needed Boost"  

MOTORSPORTS UNPLUGGED: "No Doubt Keselowski Shows Signs of Stardom"  

CHARLOTTE OBSERVER: "Wrecking isn't Racing, Just Part of It"  

RACIN' TODAY: "Danica to have Things Others Did Not"  

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Posted on: August 28, 2011 11:43 am

Brad Keselowski, Paul Wolfe post Bristol

Posted by Pete Pistone

THE MODERATOR:  Let's roll into our post-race winning team for tonight's 51st annual Irwin Tools Night Race here at Bristol Motor Speedway.  And our race winner is Brad Keselowski.  He drives the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge for Penske Racing.  This is Brad's third win in 2011, his first win here at Bristol.  He moves up to 11th in points.  I believe it was six weeks ago maybe, five, six weeks ago, he was 23rd, 24th in points and nobody was talking about Brad back then.           

But talk about the win here tonight at Bristol.  I'm sure this has got to be a real, real feather in your cap, winning at a track that is considered to be certainly one of the most cherished on the circuit.           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Absolutely.  What an honor to win at Bristol and really just to have a great car all night long.  We were strong, man, that first run, I knew we had something for them.  And it kind of fell off a little bit after that first restart when Matt and I kind of got together, and I was really concerned from then on.  I thought I had done some damage to my car and hurt it.           

But we did some more adjustments to it and got it back right, and by the end of the race, we got up to the lead and the sky was the limit.           

Proud of the effort and everybody just kept digging all day long.  Last pit stop was good, the adjustments were good, I was driving my butt off, and next thing you know, we find ourselves in victory lane at Bristol.  Just amazing.           

THE MODERATOR:  Brad, obviously you had already qualified for the Sprint Summer Showdown, so tonight's win certainly reinforced that, but you'll be paired up with two fans now.           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Does that mean I only have to finish second?           

THE MODERATOR:  No, if you win the fans will --           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  I'm saying I should get something for winning two of the races, like a handicap.           

THE MODERATOR:  Talk about the Sprint Summer Showdown because that's a pretty cool deal that you're going to be going for next week in Atlanta.           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Yeah, it was always nice to run some special things, and thanks to Sprint for putting that on.  Obviously would like to win a million dollars for charity, that would be pretty cool and a million dollars for the fan -- that's even a better question.  Is it $2 million now?           

THE MODERATOR:  No, it's a million dollars, Brad, just a million dollars.           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  We've got to do some better negotiating.  Get Roger in here.  Roger could get it to two.  I'm serious, he could.  But that's great.  We're going to have fun with it either way.           

THE MODERATOR:  Paul Wolfe, crew chief, you've certainly been an important part of that run for the 2 team and arguably this team is the hottest team in NASCAR.           

PAUL WOLFE:  Yeah, we've definitely kind of got things going for us right now, and it's weird because it's not really doing anything different.  It's been a lot of small things over the past couple months just starting to add up.  And we've got fast race cars, the driver is doing his part, the pit crew is doing their part, and we're making good calls on pit road and adjustments.           

The biggest thing for me that I've noticed being in the Cup Series is these races are a lot longer obviously than the Nationwide races I'm used to, and you've got to be able to adjust on your car as the track changes.  And as the race goes on, everybody seems to get better.           

I feel like as a team we've done a good job adjusting on our cars and making them so they have adjustability in them.  And we continue to bring good race cars to the racetrack every week and something that Brad can go out there and do his part.            

Q.  For Paul, during the race, especially there at the last pit stop, Brad was able to really get on the gas once the jack dropped and pass at least one car if not two on pit road.  Was that based on -- did you make the decision on where that pit stall was based on the timing line so he could do that or was that just a benefit of how the pit stalls kind of fell out when it came to your decision?           

PAUL WOLFE:  Well, every week everybody chooses their pit stall off of how they qualify, and you try to pick the stalls that you think will work out for you.  It's all part of the race.           

I feel like we've been doing a good job at putting together a whole weekend.  It's not always about just having a fast race car.  It's about the guys having good stops.  They had a fast stop there at the end when it counted, and that was able to get us towards the front row, and then we had a shot at it.            

Q.  You're only 21 points out of 10th.  Is it important to get to 10th considering if you are in the top 10, you get the bonus points when you start the Chase; if you're not in the top 10 you don't get the bonus points?           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Who's 10th, is it Tony?  Tony is pretty good.  He's pretty good at Atlanta and Richmond.  Richmond we really struggled at in the spring, so I'm really not sure what to expect going back.  21 points is still a lot of points.  That means you've got to beat the guy by over 10 positions over the course of two races.  Beating Tony Stewart by an average of 10 positions over two races, that's going to be pretty tough to be honest.          

I'm just happy with what we've done here tonight, and I hate to look too far ahead, but yes, having those points for three wins would be huge in the Chase.  But I don't think we've seen a Chase yet where that's mattered.           

So maybe this one will be different and maybe we'll be kicking ourselves if we don't get in the top 10 and it comes down to Homestead and we lose whatever points those are.  But there's no point in sitting and pouting about it.  We've got to look forward and continue to do the best we can.           

Q.  Brad, since the great coincidental ankle, your average finish is 1.75 and you've picked up 12 positions in points.  So while you say you're going to be hampered by that ankle until the season's end, it appears you've picked up a direct deal of upward mobility.           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Yes.  Is that a question?            

Q.  It was a feeble attempt at one.  But what I'm getting at is with three wins and one position out, you have -- there's a lot of people who are trying to figure out whether to go for consistency or wins.  You have more freedom than anybody in there.  You're in no matter what.           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Well, hell, why not just go for both?  I'd like to consistently win.  That's what the sport is all about, right?  You know, it's been good.  This sport in its simplest form is just about winning.  Why make it any more complicated than that?  If you've got cars to win, go out there and win.  If you don't, get the best finish you can.           

I look at Jimmie, and the years of success he's had for winning championships.  He wins races in the Chase and you've got to be able to do that.  I'm sure we could look at this all different kinds of ways and coast into it or however you want to look at it or just take all those stupid risks to win races, but you just do the best you can on any given week.  You try to be smart at it and smart about it and try not to overthink it.           

And you'll have great weeks like we're having here if you've got a great team.  We've got a great team.  I don't think we're overthinking it.            

Q.  Brad, you said that there was never a real moment when the lightbulb went on.  But that being said, since the two of you have worked together, you've won a championship together.  So it's not like you guys didn't know each other, even though there was a crew chief change.  What has been the biggest change over the last four weeks or before the four weeks?  Is it mechanical?  Have you made any changes to the pit crew?  What exactly would you attribute your recent success?           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  What, are you looking for like a part?  I'm not sure -- I don't think anything is different.  I don't know.  I really don't think anything is different.  Paul could answer better than I can.  Maybe he changed something I don't know about.           

Are you changing things I don't know about, Paul?            

Q.  Anything that you found on the car perhaps, any changes to the pit crew, anything you can point to, Paul?           

PAUL WOLFE:  No, I think it's a lot of things.  I've kind of answered this question a lot over the last month, of course.  We've continued to make our race cars better, all the guys back at the shop, from our aero to our chassis shop to the guys building the engines.  I think everybody has just been working hard.           

And then for myself, it definitely took me a few races to kind of understand what I needed to do.  Obviously there's a lot of things that are similar to the Nationwide car, but there's so many things that are different.  You know, it took me some time to get my feet on the ground, and then I feel as we've started to go back to tracks for a second time, that's where we've started to shine.           

Obviously this is our third track I guess we've been back to for a second time.  Each track we've gone back to for a second time, our results look to be pretty good.           

Just a lot of little things, and like I said, we've still got more to come and feel like we still have a lot of room to grow to be able to compete for a championship that we know is going to be a tough task.  But it's something I feel like everybody on this team is capable of.            

Q.  Brad, did you temporarily forget about the ankle when you jumped off the roof of the car?  It looked like you got reminded a little bit when you hit the ground.           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Yeah, stupid is as stupid does (Laughter).           

I don't know, it's worth it to win the race.            

Q.  You mentioned the great Tony Stewart.  You made up 27 points on him tonight, so 21 is not impossible.  When you look at the streak you've been on, could you have imagined anything like this?  Is this a championship caliber team now?           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  I think we have the potential.  We have some pieces that I personally would like to see us improve, and I think that's probably a better question for Paul.           

PAUL WOLFE:  Yeah, like I said, we've obviously made gains.  We've got more to go.  We know where some of those areas are we need to work.  But overall we're not going to change what we've been doing or how we approach things.           

Like Brad said, the simplest thing is just to go out there and try to win the race each and every week.  And we feel like we have speed in our cars to do that now, and we'll continue to try to make them better each and every week.           

Just really proud of what we've been able to accomplish our first year together.  We'll work as hard as we can as we get into this Chase and can't be disappointed in however it does work out.  I'm just real proud of what everybody has done so far this year.            

Q.  Brad, obviously you guys have stepped it up the last couple weeks, but you look at some of the other guys you're in this wildcard card contest with and nobody seems to want to make up any ground.  Tonight guys two laps down, three laps down.  That's a function of Bristol I'm sure, but are you waiting for a challenge from some of these guys and wondering when it's going to come?           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Oh, it'll come.  This sport works in cycles.  I've been at the bottom of the cycle since I've come in and we're just now getting back to the top.  And you've got to capitalize when you're at the top.  You've got to find a way to win, got to find a way to get good finishes.  And I know we'll cycle back to the bottom, it's just a matter of time.  Every team does.  You hope your cycle is at a time when it doesn't mean anything.           

I think you look at teams like -- Denny is the best example.  He's cycled both ways, and as a team and as a driver you can just hope when you're at the top of the cycle you capitalize on it.  And when you're at the bottom of the cycle, you find a way to persevere through it.           

Tony Stewart is not going to run wherever he finished today forever.  This is by no means the end of his career.  So he's definitely going to cycle back up.  Does he cycle up tomorrow or does he cycle up four weeks from now or more?  I don't know.  But you certainly can't count on him to not get back to his winning forms.            

Q.  While you were celebrating in victory lane, Mike Davis tweeted something and said that, "I was just thinking about the day Brad K. Was sitting trying to convince Dale, Jr., to give him a shot, and now look at him," or something to that effect.  So much has happened in your career in a relatively short period of time.  What do you think about -- you almost sounded a little bit speechless in victory lane tonight.           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  I think about what an honor it is to have this opportunity.  There's so many talented race car drivers out there.  They're everywhere, and some of them get the opportunity and things happen outside of their control, or sometimes they just screw it up.  A lot of them don't.           

I feel lucky to have gotten the opportunity and to not have screwed it up.  There were several times where I felt like I had, so just very, very fortunate to be where I'm at right now.  When you're running those last few laps, you're thinking to yourself, I just can't believe this.  I didn't even think I'd ever have the opportunity to run this race, let alone to be leading it with five to go or whatever.           

I can remember talking to my brother right before he got the chance to start the Daytona 500.  I asked him, What do you think, how you're going to do in the race?           

He said, I don't care, I can't believe I'm in the Daytona 500, I'm going to get to run it.  No matter what happens this is the best day of my life.           

And I try to keep that in perspective, how lucky I was just to even be running this race and how fortunate I am to be a part of this sport, let alone to be leading it at the end and to win it.  It's just a huge honor.            

Q.  For Paul, Brad recently told a story about when you met with him in a motor home at Michigan when he was trying to convince you to be the crew chief, and he said that the way he recalled you were real quiet and sat and listened to him.  And when he was done, you looked him straight in the face and said, "No, I don't think so," and walked out.           

How tough was that to make that decision when you walked out the door, and did you kind of second-guess yourself or wonder where your path might have led or surprised how it has led?           

PAUL WOLFE:  Well, I don't know --           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Paul, what were you thinking that day (laughing)?           

PAUL WOLFE:  At the time I was committed to the team I was with.  It was exciting to have Brad give me the call and want to talk about it.  It's always an honor to be wanted, I guess.  I had worked really hard to get where I was at, and like I said, I'm pretty dedicated and loyal to people that have helped me out.  And the situation I was in, I felt like that was where I wanted to be and I had made a commitment to those guys and I was going to live up to it.           

So I'm not sure if that was the response Brad was expecting or thought he was going to get out of me.  And then as the season winded down, the opportunity came about when that team didn't have sponsorship, so at that point, we started to talk again.            

Q.  Brad, a couple for you.  No. 1, driving the 'Blue Deuce,' with all the success of Kurt -- I know you're a big fan of the sport and respect the history of the sport.  Talk a little bit about that first.           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Well, yeah.  I mean, first off, the Miller partners or distributors or what have you, the group in this area is so supportive of the race program.  Like Paul said, it's an honor to be where you're wanted and where you're supported.  He was talking about it in some other context, but it's the same thing as it talks about the sponsors.  Miller loves Bristol.           

It's always an honor.  I was so thrilled to drive by that banner pulling in here to the racetrack and just feel like I lived up to the commitment they've made to me by being able to win and be successful.  And I wasn't sure we were going to be able to do that.           

Obviously you try really hard.  Miller is a marquee sponsor of this sport and one that's been around for quite some time.  It's an icon with obviously the 'Blue Deuce.'  More people know the 'Blue Deuce' than know me for sure, so I feel very lucky to get to drive that car.  And I just hope I can pay it back by having strong runs like we had today.            

Q.  I wanted to ask you about the rides of course you're giving to the veterans tomorrow and what all that means to you.           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Sure, yeah.  Spending the night here at the racetrack and having an event with my foundation here tomorrow, I was hoping I'd get a few more of you media guys to come out and maybe I could give you a ride and scare you all to hell, but nobody volunteered; imagine that.  Who knows, maybe somebody will now.           

We're going to have a lot of fun with it.  My foundation, the Checkered Flag Foundation, we do some cool things with the track, and we also are partnering with Miller to do it, so I have some cool things going on, and it's going to be a blast.           

It's always nice to kind of pay it back to the people that make it possible for us to get to drive race cars in a circle and hoot and holler and make a lot of noise in victory lane.  The veterans and those that have made sacrifices, and specifically the ones in my foundation that have made sacrifices to life and limb, it's always an honor to be a part of that with them and give back to them.            

Q.  Brad, kind of following up on that, you went in the diametrically opposite direction from last year with your pre-race driver introduction tonight.  What's the story on the two veterans you introduced and are they going to be ride-along tonight?           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  The two guys that were out there, yeah, they will definitely be part of the ride-alongs tomorrow, and I'll be glad to have them for sure.  Are you coming, Nate?            

Q.  Debatable.           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  That means no.            

Q.  Before the obvious jump off your car in victory lane, what was your pain level tonight in the car?           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Last 100 laps I was certainly starting to feel it.  But you know, I don't think anybody wants to hear me whine.  Every once in a while I do and they tell me just to shut up anyway, and it hasn't been very productive.  It obviously has felt better.  I wish I wouldn't have jumped off the damned car.            

Q.  I know you don't want to look into the future, so I'll ask you to look in the future.  Can you keep this up for 12 more weeks, and do things change as far as how the racing goes once the Chase starts?  We've seen a lot of guys make surges into the Chase and once they get in, things seem to change for them.           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Well, I haven't heard any voices in my head yet, so it should be all right.  I'll have to ask Jimmie.  But I'm going to have fun with it.  It's an honor just to be in the Chase.  At the start of the year it was certainly one of our goals.  And to come in on a high note is just great.  Past success does not guarantee future success, and I'm a big believer in that, but it sure as hell doesn't hurt.  That's why we run the races.           

We could run the races on paper and in our head all day long and say that such-and-such is going to win, but you just never know.  So we'll just have to see.  But we're on the right path.            

Q.  For Paul, assuming you're in the Chase, it would be easy to say that with everything that's transpired so far this year that just being in the Chase, whatever happened, would just kind of be gravy.  But given the opportunity to be in it and how well you've been running lately, do you then instantly become kind of more focused on now how do we win this since we're in it?           

PAUL WOLFE:  Well, you know, it's hard to say.  Obviously this will be my first Chase if we do make it, and as of right now I don't see myself doing anything different than what I've done to this point.  You know, there's a lot of pressure to perform in this sport.  That's what it's based on, and I feel like every day when I go to work I have to prove myself again, and that's what I continue to do every weekend is continue to work hard.           

Now that we've won three races it doesn't mean that we're just going to put it on cruise control because we've accomplished a lot this year already.  The better you run, it's like the expectations just continue to get higher and higher.           

Looking back at the beginning of the season, if we could just run top 15 we, thought that was going to be good.  That was a big accomplishment, looking at how we ran at Vegas and California, and we've far exceeded the top 15 now.  So the better you run, the expectations just continue to get higher and higher.           

So to go back to running 15th really isn't acceptable.  I guess what I'm getting at is I'll continue to work hard and do the same things that I've done to get to this point, and that's what I'll continue to do if we get in the Chase.            

Q.  Brad, there were a lot of people, me included, that thought it was a really stupid move to get out of the Hendrick pipeline and jump over to Penske to get into a Cup ride when you did, and I'll admit I was obviously wrong about that.  Does it feel extra good -- obviously winning feels good, but does it feel extra good when you outrun the Hendrick guys to do it?           

BRAD KESELOWSKI:  Oh, man.  Well, there's no doubt that that was a very difficult decision -- hey, it's Chad.  Hey, Chad.  I'd better wait until he leaves the room to answer that.           

Sometimes in life you have to step back and look at the complete picture and be able to see the complete picture and know that you have to let go to get what you want, let go of what you have, leave your comfort zone to make it to the next level.  And I'm sure, although I did not have a spot at Hendrick for the 2010 season, I'm sure Rick and his team would have figured something out.           

But I wasn't sure what that was going to be.  And I had an incredible opportunity that Roger gave me.  I knew that if I made the most of it, that he would reward me.  I knew how loyal he was from talking to him and kind of checking out the sources and felt like I was being afforded an opportunity to create something.           

And if I had gone to Hendrick or waited it out, there was a long list of bad things that could have happened and a very short list of positive things that could have happened.  And I didn't see that at Penske.  I only saw a list of things that were good that could have happened, and the biggest negative that could happen was everybody telling me I was an idiot.  Well, people tell me I'm an idiot every day, so I'm pretty much immune to that.           

But I felt like by having an opportunity to create a Nationwide program from the ground up, to create it with perhaps the vision that I had with having a guy like Paul to crew chief it and having some of the people behind the scenes inside of it -- and Paul put a lot of that together.  He deserves an amazing part of the credit.  I felt like that would perhaps offset the Cup stuff.           

And I'll be honest, last year in Cup, I was miserable.  There were a lot of people that told me, "you should have waited, you should have waited.       

But there just wasn't an opportunity, and it's such a tough question to answer because no one here can sit here knowing all the pieces to the puzzle.  Quite honestly, I can't tell you all of them, and have all the information that I had, and with all the information I had, I believe in my heart that this was the right decision.           

And I'm glad we're able to perform now and prove to everyone that it was.  I think the performance at the end of the day is always the proof.           

I'm really proud of this whole group to be able to prove that this was the right call.  It certainly wasn't the easy call, but this was the right call.  And I think Paul would tell you, too, that he had other opportunities besides Penske that certainly were easier calls to make.  But at the end, this means more.  This means more, it really does.           

It's been since 2005 since two cars from Penske Racing have made the Chase, and I think that was the only year.  And I don't think there's really ever been a year where both cars have been competitive and really winning races like there is now.  I'd like to think that Paul and I are both a large part of that, and essentially we've taken what was the 12 team, turned it into the 2 team, created two amazing groups with great sponsors like Shell and Miller that can really do this and do it right, and everyone is being rewarded.          

Not the easy call, for sure, but it's looking real good right now.

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Posted on: August 28, 2011 11:22 am

Jeff Gordon, Martin Truex Jr. post Bristol

Posted by Pete Pistone

JEFF GORDON:  Yeah, it was an awesome night for us with the Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet.  We started up front.  We had a good -- great pit stops, and man, we just had a fun night.  It just felt so good to be that competitive.           

I mean, we've been competitive like that for several weeks now, and I'm just having a blast.  Can't wait for the next race when you're running good like this and you have a team that has confidence in you and you have confidence in them and you're getting along the way that we're getting along, it's a lot of fun out there.  Yeah, it was an awesome performance.           

I hate we came up short.  We just couldn't quite get after it the way we needed to being on the inside lane on that last restart, and you know, I almost was clear of Martin when we were running hard there together.  It was a great race between me and him and couldn't quite clear him.  And I knew at that point we just didn't have enough laps to get back by him or get up to the 2 car.             

Q.  You talked a lot about the competition you were having with Martin and Jimmie all night long.  Sometimes you have those races where it seems like you're racing around the same guys all night.  Was there a time during this race where you looked up and said, Can't I just race somebody else instead of the same guys I've been around all night?            

JEFF GORDON:  Well, I don't know.  I was wondering where the 1 car came from that one time.  He was really strong and had a good race car, as well.  You know, definitely me and Matt, and actually me and Matt have been racing a lot lately.  You look at the Brickyard, Michigan, a lot of racetracks me and Matt have been really battling.  I guess that's a good thing because Matt has been running up front a lot this year.           

You know, I saw Martin running in practice and his car looked good, and the last time that we were here, or this race last year, they were really strong, and we raced with them, as well.           

You know, I was hoping that I could get up to him a little bit earlier than I did.  The longer that you ran, the less the two tires -- or four tires -- had an advantage, and he was running a great line up there on top holding momentum.           

I kind of picked up some lap cars there one time and thought I was going to get him but he stuffed it in there three wide and that was it.  Once I didn't get by him there, I kind of used up my stuff, had to kind of ride in there behind him, and took one last shot on him on the last corner and couldn't quite clear him.  It was a great battle.           

But yeah, any time you're racing -- I was surprised we weren't racing with Kyle Busch tonight.  I was expecting him to be up there.  But Jimmie Johnson certainly wasn't a surprised.  Keselowski, man, those guys are on a roll.  They're running strong.  We have to keep an eye on him because he's strong.           

THE MODERATOR:  Joining us right now is Martin Truex, Jr.  He's our race runner up.  He drives the Number 56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing.           

Martin, as Jeff alluded to, you raced strong here last time at Bristol and had a good car tonight.  Talk about your runner-up finish.           

MARTIN TRUEX, JR.:  Yeah, thank you.  It feels good to be finishing up front.  It's been a while.  We've had some good races here lately, fourth at the Glen.  So trying to build a little bit of momentum here towards the end of the year.  The guys on the NAPA Toyota have been working really, really hard, all the buys at the shop, working hard on our stuff and just got to thank them for sticking with it and working hard.          

As Jeff said, we had a strong car here in the spring, but only for the first half of the race.  And we led the most laps, and halfway the car just went away, and we finished, I think, 18th or 19th just struggling to stay in the lead lap.           

We came here this weekend really trying to focus on being better the second half of the race, being better in the long run when the track really got rubbered up, and it worked out for us.  I was a little concerned yesterday after practice going into the race, but Chad Johnston, my crew chief, and all my guys did a great job getting the car ready and made all the right positions and we were close all night.           

We fought track position most of the race, but once we were able to get up towards the front, you know, we had a strong car, it was really good.           

Just thank them again.  It feels good to finish off a weekend with a strong run.             

Q.  Jeff, you mentioned Brad and how strong they were running.  They were 25th in points at Charlotte and now have three wins and 11th in points over the last 12 races.  Are they serious championship contenders now?  And the second question, when you were trying to get around Martin did you kind of think back to Watkins Glen and the promise he made there?            

JEFF GORDON:  Watkins Glen?  Oh, Sonoma.  We'll get to that in a second.  I only remember he promised.  I remember begging for mercy (Laughter).          

Let's see, yeah, I don't know what more to say about Brad and the 2 team.  They're strong and you put them in position at the end of the race and they're going to pull off the wins.  They're, to me, as strong of a team out there that there is right now.           

I think it's really ironic that he had the issue at Road Atlanta, and ever since then he's been on fire.           

I think he proved to all of us he's tougher than we thought he was, and we always knew he was a good race car driver, but he's stepping it up, and that whole team, so you've got to give him a lot of credit.           

As far as Martin and I at Sonoma, I made a huge mistake, and it didn't matter to him whether I made a mistake because it ruined his day.  But I think tonight I wanted to prove to him that I could race him hard and race him clean for position.            

Now, if we would have been racing for the win it might have been different.  But racing for the position we were in, I raced him hard, we rubbed, we banged, but we had a lot of respect for one another, and he finished second, I finished third, and that's pretty much how we've raced one another ever since Sonoma.             

Q.  Martin, how much do you credit the surge to the change in crew chief, and how much is it just things getting better?            

MARTIN TRUEX JR.:  I think it's a little bit of both.  You know, Chad has definitely brought a lot to the table for our team, and the communication between us has gone really well.  I feel like he's the right person for me to get the most out of me and ask the right questions and make sure he's giving me what I'm looking for.           

The communication, the relationship has been great for our team.  He's a great leader.  The guys really respect him, and he really fits in our system and the way we do things, the way we set up our cars, the way we go through all the sim work and all the stuff that we do, he's really on top of his game.  He's done a great job.           

And, you know, at the same time, it's a team effort.  Everybody at MWR has been working hard and all has a part in the runs that we've had here lately.           

We're not out of the woods.  We've still got some work to do.  I feel like the mile and a half, two-mile stuff is still where we're behind and where we need the most work, and we'll just keep plugging away at it.  And hopefully finish off the season strong and be prepared for next year.             

Q.  Jeff, you mentioned something about pit road after you got out of the car out there.  Is it more of a bonus to have a good pit stall like Matt did tonight?  What exactly is the problem with having the pits on each side like this?            

JEFF GORDON:  Well, don't get me wrong.  We had a good pit stall similar to them.  I don't know if there's a little bit more of an advantage on the front straightaway than there is on the back straightaway, but to me the whole purpose of having timing lines and pit road speed is to make it as equal and fair for everybody as you possibly can.  And they've got some work to do at this pit road.  The racetrack is awesome, but the pit road is terrible.        

When a guy can run 60 miles an hour down pit road and the pit road speed is, what, 35, then something is wrong with the system.  We were able to do something similar to that on the back straightaway, so I don't really feel like that's what cost us tonight.  I did have a couple cars coming down pit road that were going slow when I left my pit stall that held me up a little bit, but we qualified good, so we had one of those stalls.           

But even when you have one and you see the other guys have one, it's a joke that somebody can leave pit road and run that fast down pit road and then slam on the brakes.  Kenseth drove by four cars and so did the 2 car when he left his pit stall.  I just don't understand it.           

But that is the way that it is here, and it puts a huge premium on the pit stall and qualifying up front.             

Q.  Following up on that, technology exists, or GPS units I guess you can put in these cars, that can tell you instantaneous speed at any point on the racetrack or at any point on pit road.  Instead of using lines where people cheat, would you have in favor of something like that?            

JEFF GORDON:  I don't understand why we don't have a button on the steering wheel, just hold it and takes us pit road speed and we just run it all the way down pit road.  You'll have to ask NASCAR where why we don't have that technology.  We have the technology to do it, but why we don't incorporate it into the cars, and there might be good reasons why we don't.           

I think the time lines are a big improvement over what we used to have, but there are certain tracks -- you look at Michigan last week, they redid pit road, and they completely redid their pit road lines, and there was no stall that had a big advantage at that track because they segmented them in equal segments all the way down pit road.  And that's what they're going to need to do here eventually, as well.            

Q.  You kind of touched on it right there, but is this an issue that we see at more than just this track?  You mentioned Michigan repaving, but are other tracks just as bad or is this just the worst on the schedule?            

JEFF GORDON:  This is the one I'd say that's most noticeable.  But Martinsville -- there's a couple of them.  Everywhere we go we look at timelines and see where there's big gaps in the timelines and try to take advantage of them.  And sometimes it's more risky than others because you might be pitting in between two other cars, so you'll pick a spot or a pit stall right on a timeline to gain that advantage, but you might be blocked in.           

Where here, at least the one that I had and the one that Matt had, when we were -- we were wanting to be third in qualifying really, really bad because that's where that last -- that pit stall that Matt had was the cutoff.  We knew that the top three would get the best three pit stalls, so we got the next best one, and it had advantages like that.           

But I think Matt's seemed to have a little bit more of an advantage.  So this is probably the worst one.             

Q.  Obviously all the talk is about the excitement with Brad maybe being a contender for the Chase, but how much do you feel like you really yourself could be right up there to challenge your teammate Jimmie this year to actually get another title for yourself?            

JEFF GORDON:  I'm excited about our race team.  We've been running really strong, been leading a lot of laps, running up front at the big races.  To me the most impressive thing about my racing was what improvement we made from the spring at this track to this evening.  We were out to lunch earlier in the year, and I just think we've come a long way as a team, communication, confidence, and what we've learned together on how to make our race cars better and how to communicate better to get the most out of the cars.           

I'm having a blast right now, and when you're having fun it means you're competitive on a fairly consistent basis, and I hope we can keep that going because we can definitely do some damage and give some guys a real run for their money in the Chase.             

Q.  Jeff and Martin, could you talk a little bit about the racing tonight?  Jeff, you talked about on pit road racing the 17 and 48.  Would you ever have imagined to be able to have that kind of racing here at Bristol where you guys had plenty of room to almost go three wide quite a bit, and also Martin, if you would just talk about the same thing in regards to when you were racing and holding off Jeff.            

MARTIN TRUEX, JR.:  Yeah, I mean, since they redid the surface here, that's kind of the way it's been.  You've had options, you've been able to run three, four different grooves and move around the racetrack and it's made for, I think, more fun racing for us drivers.  I hated the old Bristol.  I mean, I won on it, but I hated it.  If you were faster than the other guy, you had to knock him out of the way, and that's no fun.  That's not how we grew up learning how to race and that's not how you race with respect to the guys you race with every week.           

So this is more fun.  You have some options you can race with some guys.  I think tonight it took a step probably a little bit too far where the top groove was better than anywhere else on the racetrack and it made it a little bit difficult to pass.  Last time here I thought the bottom was a little bit easier to finish passes on the bottom, and if your car was really good, you could run down there.           

Seemed like tonight nobody could really make any ground.  If you went down there you could make ground for five or six, laps and then your tires would be overheated and you'd have to move back up.  I think they need to work on that a little bit more still.  But again it's a lot more fun when you have options and you're not stuck in one groove.  I've enjoyed the track since they've redone it for sure.           

JEFF GORDON:  I mean, I agree.  I love racing here with the multiple grooves.  I know there's not as many cautions and there's not as many guys upset at one another after the race is over, which makes for a good television show, I guess.  But for us as drivers, it's very challenging to try to make a pass.  You've got to set a guy up, and you've got to work him over and over and over, and sometimes you make the pass, sometimes you don't.     

You know, I wonder -- Goodyear came here earlier in the year with a little bit softer tire, and they had to change it because we wore through it.  If they could get that tire to lay some rubber down, that would probably be a better tire to allow us to -- kind of what Martin is alluding to, where it would have a little bit more grip.           

This tire, it seems like you sit up on top of the racetrack and slide it around a little bit and you can overheat it real easily, but it doesn't wear much.  So I think that maybe Goodyear could look at that a little bit.         

And I know they'd prefer to have that other tire, they just got scared because it wore so quickly.  So if there's a way to keep the rubber on that tire, I think the compound would make the racing even a little bit better than it was.

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Posted on: August 26, 2011 6:21 pm
Edited on: August 26, 2011 6:28 pm

Ryan Newman rockets to Bristol pole

By Pete Pistone

Ryan Newman lived up to his nickname "Rocket Man" by earning the pole for Saturday night's Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver paced the field in Friday's qualifying session to score his third career pole at Bristol and his first since 2004.

Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin completed the first five.

Newman's teammate and team owner Tony Stewart was the 42nd of the 46 to take time on Friday.


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Posted on: August 26, 2011 5:10 pm
Edited on: August 26, 2011 5:11 pm

Clint Bowyer blasts media for contract rumors

By Pete Pistone

It's understandable if Clint Bowyer feels under a lot of pressure these days.

He sits outside the Chase cut-off with only three races remaining in the regular season and his contract with Richard Childress Racing expires at the end of the season.

While Bowyer and Childress have been negotiating to try and put a new deal together, sponsorship has been a key issue in the future of the team's No. 33 entry. General Mills departs at the end of 2011 and no replacement has yet been announced for next season.

In the meantime Bowyer has been rumored to be speaking with other organizations about a possible ride with Richard Petty Motorsports among those speculated.

However Bowyer took issues with such stories when he met the media Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway.

"It takes time. Those deals you can't just say, 'Yes, do it.' It takes time to put the sponsorship deals together, it takes time to have meetings, it takes time to do all that. You've got to be patient," Bowyer said

"They call it 'Silly Season' for a reason." 

Bowyer singled out one reporter in the session for a story that said the driver was looking "for helicopter rides from the track" as part of any new deal.

"You don't know me very well, lady. Jesus," he said.

"You guys need to stop and think about the situation sometimes and the detriment that it can cause to the situation. I think that's important."

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Posted on: August 26, 2011 3:37 pm
Edited on: August 26, 2011 5:00 pm

Bristol Happy Hour to Carl Edwards

By Pete Pistone

Carl Edwards backed up his performance in Friday's opening practice session by leading the way in final practice for Saturday's Irwin Tools Race Night at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Edwards led David Stremme, Juan Pablo Montoya, Clint Bowyer and Brad Keselowski in the Top 5.

Jeff Burton, David Gilliland, Paul Menard, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch rounded out the first ten in practice.

Qualifying to set the field for the 24th race of the Sprint Cup Series season is set for 5:40 p.m. ET.


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