NASCAR’s bye brings boys to Bristol

Published 8:27 pm Saturday, March 20, 2010

Last week’s pause in the NASCAR schedule couldn’t have come at a worse time. With waning interest from anyone less than a hardcore racing fan over the last few years, NASCAR entered the 2010 season intent on regaining fan interest.

The boys at the home office in Daytona Beach pledged “we’re gonna let ‘em race,” and the race two weeks ago at Atlanta proved that to be true. But, Carl Edwards’s punt of Brad Keselowski late in the race was a little too noticeable to ignore.

But, the incident between two of the more disliked drivers on the circuit generated chatter and interest. Just what NASCAR hoped. The week off last weekend, I can’t ever remember another time when none of the three top series raced, dampened some of the talk.

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And with Danica Patrick now concentrating on her open-wheel career for several months, NASCAR must find a way to continue the hoopla, to get the fans back and to get the television ratings back up. There couldn’t be a more perfect venue for the next race than this week’s track, Bristol Motor Speedway.

Bristol has been described many ways through the years. But I can only describe it one way, entertaining. A high-banked half-mile track with 43 cars making 15-second laps 500 times with 160,000 fans in the stands. Nowhere else on the face of the earth will you see a creation like Bristol Motor Speedway.

Don’t be surprised if Keselowski and Edwards find themselves together at some point Sunday afternoon, and don’t be surprised if those two cars happen to “bump” a few times. If not these two guys, then it will be another set of drivers who tick each other off. It happens every year.

One of the more entertaining aspects of the races at Bristol is the driver introductions. Like the last several races at Bristol, each driver gets to choose their own song to be played during introductions. Song selection, as Simon Cowell might say, is vitally important.

Keselowski chose “Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty, you have to admire Brad’s chutzpah. Edwards chose a more punky remake of Ram Jam’s “Black Betty” by some group called Spiderbait. David Ragan will pay homage to his home state by entering to “Devil Went Down to Georgia” by Charlie Daniels, while Jeff Gordon will hip-hop to “Boom, Boom, Pow” by the Black-Eyed Peas.

Other interesting choices include Kyle Busch choosing Kanye West’s “Amazing” and Elliott Sadler doing his best Ric Flair impersonation with “2001: A Space Odyssey.” But, my favorite has to be Clint Bowyer entering to Elvis’ “Burning Love.” Be sure not to miss the driver introductions, at least the ones that Fox chooses to broadcast.

Gordon and Kurt Busch, the winner at Atlanta, have each won five times at Bristol and each are having a pretty solid season thus far. But my pick to win Sunday is Tony Stewart, who is entering to Kid Rock’s “Bawitdaba,” if you’re wondering.