Friday, March 20, 2009

Rusty Reckons: The Other March Madness

Rusty's cousin, Skeeter's car

Old DW says Bristol is like flying a bunch of fighter jets inside a packed gymnasium, and I don't believe I've heard a more apt description. Sheer madness! Bristol is the highest banked track in NASCAR, but also one of the shortest. The high banks make the cars go fast. The short tracks means they don't have that much room to go fast. The result means awesome freaking racing.

With the old car, the way to get around was the bump-n-run. Put a bumper on a guy, get him loose, sending him up the track, and dive underneath. Ole Dale Sr. was the expert at it, though some others have gotten pretty good at it too. The catch is competitors aren't too happy when they get bumped, which led to some heated tempers and a few fights. Translation, exciting time for the fans.

The fun starts about 13 seconds in.

The new COT has put a damper on that somewhat. With the new car, there's really 2 grooves of racing at Bristol (high and low), and the configuration of the cars is not nearly as conducive to the bump-n-run, cause of how the bumpers front to back align themselves. Some smarty pants at NASCAR did that for a reason that I'm sure, but enough about the track, what about the racing. Well, if you can take a break from your brackets for a few hours, here's what ole Rusty expects to see.

Busch boys, Gordon, and a side of Happy. Jeff and Kurt are tied among active drivers with the most career wins at Bristol, only catch is that of those 10 wins, 8 of them came over 5 years ago. So, they've not been winning a lot lately, though they've still managed good finishes. Jeff averages a 10.8 finish with 3 top 5's, and Kurt's got a 15.4 average finishing position with a win, and 2 top 5's. Jeff's been looking solid this year, and Kurt ain't doing half-bad either. I think they may continue their roll this coming weekend.

The younger Kyle won the first ever COT race at Bristol, and has run well there ever since. He's averaging a 12.5 finish with 3 top 5's. But Happy Harvick might be the real happy guy at the end of the day Sunday. While he's only won once at Bristol, the driver of the #29 has racked up 6 top 5's over the last 5 years to lead all active drivers. Not too shabby.

With all the drama that's sure to play out on the track in Bristol and the insanity of March Madness, ole Rusty's gonna be lucky to make it through the weekend. Mark my words, though, if I do, I'll be a stronger man.

JR Prediction

Well, June never really challenged for the win in Atlanta two weeks ago, and I am really starting to sweat the season. No driver this far down in the points standings at this point in the season has ever made the chase. The 88 team needs to figure out something, and they need to do it fast. June needs to calm down in the car and tell his team what he needs. Now, lucky for him, this coming week is one of his best tracks. Over the last 5 years, Junior leads all active drivers in points gained at Bristol. In fact, he's got 50 more points than the next guy on the list, the aforementioned Happy Harvick. Well, he's gotta continue that streak this coming weekend.

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