Posted March 16, 2013 on AP on Fox
There's an expectation from fans that a ticket to Bristol Motor Speedway will get them a seat to NASCAR's version of the Roman Colosseum. They got one of those throwback, rock `em, sock `em races last August, when changes to the track surface forced drivers to get aggressive again and caused tempers to flare. Now, a month into a new Sprint Cup season, NASCAR could use another race like that. Sunday's race will be the fourth for the new Gen-6 car, and the first this season on a short track. It could be the spark NASCAR needs at a time everyone seems to be holding their breath. ''Everybody is on egg shells. Drivers are on egg shells. I think the fans are on egg shells. The media is on egg shells. The sanctioning body is on egg shells,'' defending champion Brad Keselowski said. ''You get the collective sense in this sport that everyone is feeling a lot of pressure and if we don't have a perfect week every week everybody just kind of shakes down in their boots. So I think, right now, every week is a big week in this sport.'' This week, nobody knows what to expect at a track once beloved for its action-packed racing and drama it produced. But a reconfigured racing surface in 2007 altered Bristol into two racing grooves, sometimes three, and drivers could race side-by-side around the tight bullring for the first time. Without a need to forcefully use the front bumper to navigate through traffic, the drivers thoroughly enjoyed the new Bristol. Fans absolutely hated it, and the track that boasted 55 consecutive sellouts suddenly had swaths of open seats. Track owner Bruton Smith had seen enough last March and ordered grinding to the top groove in an effort to tighten up the track and recreate the old Bristol racing. He got some of that in August, and the drama, too: Tony Stewart angrily threw his helmet at Matt Kenseth after contact between the two knocked Stewart out of the race. Race winner Denny Hamlin thinks Sunday will be even better. ''The lower line has got more grip than I've ever felt here in the past,'' Hamlin said. ''I think we're going to see one of the best races we've seen in a long time here because the low line does have a lot of grip, and we know everyone is going to start making their way higher just to make their car work, so it's going to be a good mix of both I believe.'' It could be what's needed for NASCAR's new car that Hamlin put in the news with a mild critique two weeks ago that earned him a $25,000 fine. Furious about the penalty, he said he'd be suspended before he'd pay and angry fans rallied to his defense. Hamlin this week announced he would not appeal the penalty, but still won't pay; NASCAR plans to settle the matter by garnishing the wages from his race winnings. Fans, meanwhile, still want to see what exactly Hamlin said that was so wrong about the car. Bristol could be the track that proves the car is very racy, even though pole-sitter Kyle Busch thought last week's race at Las Vegas was decent and there's no need to stress over the success of this Sunday. ''I think that we actually put on a good show last week in Vegas where there was a lot of good racing,'' Busch said. ''I thought there was good racing throughout the field. I don't think this weekend here in Bristol needs to be a savior at all. I think we all just need to go out here and put on a good show and enjoy Bristol for what Bristol is and see what happens Sunday.''
THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

Hamlin: I made my point over fine

The way Denny Hamlin sees it, he has made his point. Despite deciding not to appeal NASCAR's penalty over remarks made following the race at Phoenix International Raceway -- and the fact that the $25,000 will be paid to the sanctioning body -- Hamlin feels like he came out ahead overall. "The biggest thing is I think that we won in the judge of the people and their opinion...

Denny Hamlin drops appeal of fine yet still will not pay it

Denny Hamlin  tweeted Thursday afternoon that he would no longer appeal the fine issued by NASCAR for his unfavorable comments about the new Gen 6 car. “After a lot of thought I have decided not to appeal the fine NASCAR has issued. Dragging myself, my team and NASCAR through the mud for th CLICK TO READ COMMENTS!

Hamlin won't appeal $25K Gen-6 fine

Denny Hamlin and NASCAR settled their censorship flap Thursday when he announced he would not appeal the $25,000 fine levied against him for criticizing the new Gen-6 car. But Hamlin held his ground on refusing to pay the fine. NASCAR said the fine will be settled per the rule book, which allows the sanctioning body to garnish the money from a driver's race winnings. '...

CUP: Is Bristol Magic Back?

Denny Hamlin thinks Sunday’s Bristol race will be a good one…

Hamlin fine puts spotlight on Carl Long's plight

Denny Hamlin's recent refusal to pay his $25,000 fine has reawakened the plight of Carl Long, a driver who lacks the financial resources to settle his debt with NASCAR. Long's career as a Sprint Cup Series driver essentially ended when his team was penalized for having an illegal engine at the 2009 All-Star race. Long's crew chief was fined $200,000, an amount he was...

With Fine Behind Him, Hamlin Looking To Move Forward

The Las Vegas Motor Speedway media center was a buzz with the news one week ago. Denny Hamlin was fined $25,000 for actions detrimental to stock car racing. He talked down about the new Gen 6 car after the race at Phoenix the week before and NASCAR was not going to tolerate it. Immediately Hamlin refused to pay the fine, lashing out on being hurt that it came to that. NASCAR said...

Denny Hamlin Food City 500 Race Preview

Las Vegas Recap: Denny Hamlin finished 15th in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the #11 FedEx Office Toyota, unable to overcome a pit road speeding penalty under green flag conditions midway through the 400-mile event won by his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth. Hamlin made a pit stop on Lap 116 of the 267-lap race for four tires and fuel...

Logano and Hamlin clash at Bristol

Tempers flared at Bristol Motor Speedway in -- and after -- Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Food City 500. Former Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin, who engaged in a Twitter beef earlier this season, first had contact on the track then sparked a feud once more after the race. In the race, Jeff Gordon and Joey Logano had mounted an epic, multi-lap battle for...

Logano/Hamlin Feud Heating Up After Bristol Bump

Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images By: Toby Christie – Follow on Twitter @Tobalical A few weeks ago former teammates Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano waged a war on Twitter about differences of opinion of Logano’s driving style. This week the feud reached a new level when Hamlin sent Logano’s No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion spinning into the wall on lap 349. “It...

Joey Logano confronts Denny Hamlin after race (Video)

Video: NASCAR on FOX: Teammates no more Joey Logano confronted ex-teammate Denny Hamlin after the Food City 500 Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway following an incident between the two on the track. Logano was challenging Jeff Gordon for the lead on lap 348 when Hamlin nudged him. Logano’s No. 22 car went into the wall and spun out. Logano managed to get back into the top 10 despite...

Toyota Racing Food City 500 Race Preview

Through the first three races of 2013, Denny Hamlin is fourth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) point standings, trailing leader Jimmie Johnson by 27 points … Mark Martin (sixth), Matt Kenseth (seventh) and Clint Bowyer (ninth) also rank in the top-10 Camry drivers have totaled one win, four top-five finishes, seven top-10 results and led 273 laps Camry drivers have earned...
NASCAR News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.