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Preview: Weekend of April 6-7, 2019

Preview: Weekend of April 6-7, 2019

This weekend we are watching three races: the NASCAR Xfinity and the MENCS races at Bristol and the NTT IndyCar race from Barber Motorsports Park.

Barber Motorsports Park is a 2.38-mile purpose-built road course about 20 miles (32 km) east of Birmingham, Alabama. George Barber has been the moving force behind this project. He had assembled a museum collection of motorcycles previously and the track facility was built to house the motorcycle museum plus the circuit in a park-like setting. Since it opened for racing in 2003, it has hosted motorcycle and sports car racing and, since 2010, the IndyCar series.

The Bristol Motor Speedway is probably the best-known of the ‘short tracks’. It is a half-mile high-banked bowl of an oval with 26-30̊ bankings in the corners at each end of the track (There is some difference of opinion concerning the actual angle of the banking.) In earlier times, this was an asphalt-paved oval with a very limited amount of spectator seating. In the early 1990s this surface would break up in the heat and the side force from the cars on the bankings, The paving would tear up creating a very difficult racing surface. In those days Darrell Waltrip was dominant here. The track was completely repaved with concrete in 1992. Initially it was very rough creating a lot of vibration in the cars. The track was ground down to smooth it and this helped the situation somewhat.

The ownership changed hands a number of times, eventually it ended up as part of Bruton Smith’s collection of race tracks. Smith had big plans for the track adding many seats which converted it into a modern form of the Roman Coliseum – eventually the seating capacity reached 160,000 with more than 50 skybox suites. Once this seating had formed a full circle. Smith dreamed of putting a roof over the entire stadium complex but that never came to fruition.

For many years the summer night race was a complete sell-out with tickets impossible to obtain but, In today’s reality of drastically smaller attendances, this venue has problems filling its seats.

In 1993, reigning Cup champion Alan Kulwicki was killed in an aeroplane crash near here when he was coming from a publicity appearance back to the track for the spring Cup race.

Every year since 2016, PJ1 TrackBite (traction compound) has been applied on the lower groove of the track in an attempt to restore racing in the bottom groove that has been lost with changes to the banking in 2007 and 2012.

Saturday, April 6.
1. NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway
• 0.533 mile; 300-laps = 159.9 mi; Stages: 85/85/130 laps
• TV: TSN3 at 1:00P
• Last year’s winner here was Ryan Preece, finishing ahead of Justin Allgaier and Daniel Hemric.
• the most recent race this year, the Xfinity race at Texas Motor Speedway was won by Kyle
Busch with Tyler Reddick second and Christopher Bell third. Cup drivers will not be allowed to enter this race given that it is the first of the four Dash 4 Cash races. Busch’s next planned Xfinity race is at Watkins Glen in August.
• Click HERE for the Xfinity Series race entry list.

Sunday, April 7.
2. NASCAR MENCS Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway
• 0.533 mile; 500 laps = 266.5 miles; Stages: 125/125/250 laps
• TV: TSN1 at 2:00P
• Last year’s winner of the Food City 500 here was Kyle Busch with Kyle Larson second and Jimmie Johnson third.
• The winner of last week’s Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway was Denny Hamlin. Clint Bowyer was second and Daniel Suarez third. Given that this was a somewhat unexpected result, it probably tells us little about the expected outcome of the Bristol race. In any case, the nature of the close racing here at Bristol can make for unexpected results.
• Click HERE for the MENCS race entry list.

3. NTT INDYCAR Series Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at the Barber Motorsports Park.
• 2.38 mi (3.83 km); 90 laps = 214.2 mi.
• TV: Sportsnet World at 4:00P
• The race here last year was stopped due to rain on the Sunday (April 22) and it was completed the next day, running a total of 82 laps out of a scheduled 90. Josef Newgarden won from the pole. Ryan Hunter-Reay was second and James Hinchcliffe third.
• The most recent race this year was the INDYCAR Classic at the Circuit of the Americas. Will Power led the first 45 laps of the 60-lap race. A collision between Felix Rosenqvist and James Hinchcliffe brought out the race’s only caution. Power had a mechanical problem during this pit stop which dropped him from contention. The young rookie Colin Herta, who had been running in second or third earlier, now took over the lead and led the rest of the way to the checker. Newgarden was second and Hunter-Reay third.
• Click HERE for the IndyCar race entry list.




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