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Small crowds, great racing mark BMS weekend

Jeff Birchfield • Apr 17, 2018 at 8:21 PM

Bristol Motor Speedway simply can’t catch a break lately when it comes to weather.

A forecast of 100 percent chance of rain Sunday unfortunately lived up to its billing, playing a major factor in the small crowd for the Food City 500. It was the third straight year Bristol dealt with terrible conditions to the point where the race was either suspended or postponed. It’s something that NASCAR or the track obviously have no control over and unfortunately the sport is dependent on good weather.

There are certainly other factors, such as the retirement of several major stars in a short span and the overall decline in NASCAR over the last decade.

There are the longtime fans who have grown tired of the constant rules changes, the playoff system and other changes they see as gimmicks. Others became NASCAR fans when it was the hottest sport but soon cooled when its popularity started to dip.

To those who still watch faithfully, this past weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway provided the best racing of the year. The speedway staff have learned the proper application of the PJ1 track bite, which left drivers fighting for the bottom groove throughout the race, leading to the action seen at “the old Bristol.”

Four multicar wrecks, other single-car incidents and the classic bump-and- run move executed by Kyle Busch against Kyle Larson highlighted the Food City 500.

Other than holding back the fans who usually attend all the racing events over the weekend, the weather can’t be blamed for the small crowd at Saturday’s Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 Xfinity Series race.

The weather was picture perfect, right at 80 degrees, and it was a terrific day of racing with both that race and the Zombie Auto Parts 150 of the K&N Series.

Longtime fans have consistently complained about Cup Series drivers racing in the Xfinity Series. There were Cup regulars in Saturday’s race and the action was so much better than most Xfinity races in recent years.

But with all the problems, I do believe better days are ahead and the statement that NASCAR is a dying sport is ridiculous. No doubt, the sport has suffered a significant downturn. There are challenges ahead, but with everything in life there are ebbs and flows. I predict if the weather forecast is good, the August event will be the most attended Cup race of the year.

AUGUST SCHEDULE CHANGE

BMS and NASCAR officials announced Tuesday the UNOH 200 Camping World Truck Series race and the Bush’s Beans 150 Modified Series race will move from Wednesday, Aug. 15 to Thursday, Aug. 16, creating three straight nights of racing at the high-banked short track.

“We’re blessed to work with so many quality partners who pulled together for the fans to make this schedule change happen,” said Jerry Caldwell, executive vice president and general manager at BMS. “We have received a lot of feedback over the years suggesting this change and through a number of meetings with NASCAR, television and sponsor partners, we all agreed that this move was in the best interest of the fans.”

Details regarding supporting events like Food City Race Night will be announced later.

MUSTANG HEADED TO CUP SERIES

Ford’s Mustang model will replace the Fusion in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2019, the automaker said Tuesday.

Mustang has competed in the Xfinity Series since 2011, winning championships in all but one season. It’s given Team Penske to four owner’s titles in the last five years and carried Ricky Stenhouse Jr. to consecutive driver’s championships in 2011 and 2012.

This will be Ford’s fourth different Cup model in NASCAR’s modern era (1972-present), following Thunderbird, Taurus and Fusion.

“This announcement makes me very happy,” Edsel B. Ford II said. “Mustang is a car that is woven into the fabric of our country, and it’s only right that we put it on the track in NASCAR’s most visible series. I can’t wait.”

Ford has six organizations — Wood Brothers Racing, Roush Fenway Racing, Team Penske, Stewart-Haas Racing, Front Row Motorsports and Go Fas Racing — and 13 teams in its NASCAR lineup

RACING AT KINGSPORT

Race cars are scheduled to fire back up Friday night at Kingsport Speedway with the weekly NASCAR Whelen All-American Series program.

Besides the marquee, 60-lap Late Model Stock event, there are twin features for the Pure 4 division and features for the Mod 4, Mod Street and Pure Street divisions.

Racing is scheduled to begin around 8 p.m.

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