Outside groove gone at Bristol Bristol Motor Speedway has witnessed the initial laps on its recently altered surface. On day one of a two-day Goodyear Tire test #14-Tony Stewart, #31-Jeff Burton and #15-Clint Bowyer circled the half-mile concrete oval, and will wrap up the session on Wednesday. While it's impossible to predict how the racing action will be when NASCAR hits Bristol for August race week and the IRWIN Tools Night Race, the trio of drivers offered their comments following a full day of lapping the banks of Bristol. The same drivers will return on Wednesday to complete the Goodyear Tire test. Goodyear has mandated that the test sessions are closed to the public and media.
Tony Stewart (who is the only driver to try to run the high groove): "Well, you've definitely lost the top groove. Guys who run up there aren't going to be able to do that because it's pretty slick up there. There's going to be less room to race, that's for sure. We've gone from a three-groove track to two grooves and any time you've got less room to get around it can get pretty interesting. I'm one of the guys who likes that high groove so it's really going to change things up for me. It'll change things for everybody though because when you take away room to race on a track this small with 43 cars& yeah, it's going to tighten things up."
Clint Bowyer: "That outside line - the upper groove - is out of play now. There's going to be a lot closer racing then we've had here in the past. I don't typically run up there but a lot of guys do and I can't see them going up there now. If they do& it's pretty slippery and they'll figure that out in a hurry. The closer we have to race just means something's going to happen. Is it going to make fans happy? Well, narrowing up the track means less room to get around so there's no question there's going to be closer action."
Jeff Burton: "Goodyear is looking to bring a tire with more grip. I really think they have found some stuff that is really promising. As for the track itself, I really can't imagine running up there in that top groove. I think it is going to force everyone more to the middle and bottom of the track. The drivers aren't going to be happy, but the spectators probably will be because it is going to put more cars in a closer space. By taking away that groove, it is going to change your mind about going up there. I think it is going to be two grooves, unless Goodyear brings a tire with a lot of grip. If that is the case, you'll want to run around the bottom. Making the groove smaller is a good thing, it is going to put the action back to the bottom and middle of the track. What has changed is up near the wall, the bottom is the same. Tony experimented and tried out that top groove, and I know he won't be trying that again. If people liked the older track more than the new, they are going to like this. This takes the top groove out and brings it back toward the old track. Taking the groove out moves the track closer to what it used to be." More at bristolmotorspeedway.com
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