Hank Jr Bristolizes NASCAR – Cup Race Preview
BOCEPHUS AND BRISTOL BABY!
By Blake Smith and Moon Mullins
Last weekend’s exciting finish to the Pure Michigan 400 was a perfect opening act for this weekend’s rough and ROWDY racing at Bristol. Joey Logano and the #22 team went to victory lane in a race decided by fuel mileage.
Ironically, Logano is sponsored by Shell-Pennzoil which is where I fill up my truck. What that meant was … I filled my truck up on WINSday for 22 cents off per gallon. Doesn’t it pay to keep up with NASCAR and their promotions!?
This week article, we will take a look at some big headlines from the week and preview the Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol including the BIG name above for the pre-race show.
Newsmakers from this Week
Martin replacing Stewart
During last weekend’s activity at Michigan it was rumored that Mark Martin could be replacing Tony Stewart in the #14 car for the remainder of the season. It was reported that due to contract issues with team sponsor Aaron’s would prevent that from happening. Evidently there were negotiations between the sponsor and Martin that allowed him out of the contract with the #55 team.
Beginning with this weekend’s race at Bristol, Mark Martin will be in the #14 car for every race remaining in 2013, except for the Fall Talladega event, where Austin Dillon will be in the 14. It is a well known fact that Martin doesn’t enjoy racing at Superspeedways and therefore gives that opportunity to up and comer Austin Dillon.
Stewart commented “Obviously, I’m disappointed to be out of the Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevy for so long, but the team is in very good hands with Mark Martin and Austin Dillon", Stewart said. "Mark is someone I’ve looked up to my entire career and I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. Austin is a great young talent, and he showed that Sunday at Michigan. Greg Zipadelli, Steve Addington (crew chief) and everybody at SHR supports them 100 percent. This isn’t a situation anyone wanted, but we’re going to make the best of it. In the meantime, my focus is on getting healthy and getting back into my Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevy.” Stewart announced on Thursday that he also plans to return to Sprint Car racing after the healing process is completed.
Vickers Replacing Martin
With the announcement of Mark Martin leaving the 55 car, it was only expected that Brian Vickers will fill the vacant seat. Vickers, who has raced the 55 car on a part-time basis, will take over driving duties for the remainder of the season except for Talladega. Team owner, Michael Waltrip will pilot the Aaron’s Dream Machine at Talladega as originally planned. This will give Vickers a 12-race head start on his full-time driving position for the 55 team in 2014.
Johnson Baby due at the beginning of the Chase
For 5-time champion Jimmie Johnson and wife Chandra, it is a happy time as the couple is expected to have their second child in just a few short weeks. The bad news is the baby is due the weekend of the Chicagoland race which is the opening race of the 10-week Chase for the Championsip. Johnson told USA TODAY Sports he wouldn't mind if the baby came during the Richmond race weekend (Sept. 5-7). He's already locked into the Chase, after all. However, he said hopefully, "I'll take a weekday."
"We're getting in the window," he said. "We'll see what happens. Weekdays would be good. I hope No. 2 isn't afraid of Mondays or Tuesdays." As you would expect from Johnson, crew chief Chad Knaus and all of Hendrick Motorsports, the team has a well-planned substitute driver lineup if Johnson suddenly is called back to Charlotte. The replacement drivers are James Buescher and Regan Smith.
Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Preview
Saturday Night Action
Saturday night will be the 106th Sprint Cup Race at Bristol Motorspeedway. The 105th race was won by Hendrick driver, Kasey Kahne as he took the Great Clips Chevrolet to victory lane back in March. Kahne hopes to sweep the season’s Sprint Cup Series races while competitor Kyle Busch hopes to sweep the weekend.
The Bristol race weekend started on Wednesday as Kyle Busch won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at the bullring. Busch held off previous Bristol winner, Timothy Peters in an exciting 5 lap shootout which left Peters’ second place truck setting backward on the front straightaway. Kyle Busch is also entered in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup Series races this weekend.
Weekend Schedule for Bristol
Friday will be a busy day for Nationwide and Sprint Cup teams as they take to the track to prepare for their races this weekend. The schedule is as follows:
1:45 - 2:30 pm CST Sprint Cup Series Final Practice
2:40 pm CST Nationwide Series Qualifying
4:40 pm CST NSCS Qualifying
6:30 pm CST Nationwide Series Food City 250 race
Weekend Weather for Thunder Valley
The weather for today in Bristol looks WET. There is a chance of showers with cloudy skies during the day in Bristol. The forecast clears up for tonight’s Nationwide Race with cloudy skies and a temperature of 77 degrees. Saturday night’s forecast is for cloudy skies and a temperature of 79 degrees.
Slow and Steady DOES NOT Win the Race at Bristol
Crew chiefs will be faced with a challenge this weekend as they try to set their car up for 500 laps at Bristol. One of the major challenges is that all practice and qualifying is scheduled for during the day on Friday. Teams will have to use the information they gather and use that information to set up the car for Saturday night.
The concrete half-mile at Bristol can be completed in under 16 seconds. With that said, things happen fast at the Bristol bullring. Crew chiefs will be faced with the difficult task of setting up a car that is both fast and comfortable for the driver. A car that will be competitive on both the high and low groove is also important for Bristol as the drivers will encounter traffic quickly and need to make a move at a moment’s notice.
It’s going to get ROWDY in Thunder Valley
Back In May, I began planning my best friend’s bachelor party in Nashville. As I do with any important event on the calendar, I look at the NASCAR schedule to see if there is any conflict. I sacrificed my annual Bristol night race ritual of having friends over at the house and watching all 500 laps with my surround sound cranked to celebrate his last weekend of freedom.
I have always said that if Hank Williams Jr. plays a pre-race concert at a NASCAR race, I will be in attendance even if it is in California. Well last week, it was announced that Bocephus would be playing the pre-race show on Saturday night at Bristol. So Hank will be playing a pre-race concert only 6 hours away from my house and I’m not going. The race will be shown on ABC which is owned by the same company as ESPN so I am guessing they won’t be showing any of it on the telecast. Remember the whole Monday Night Football fall out??
“Hank Williams Jr. is an icon in both music and Southern culture," said BMS General Manager Jerry Caldwell. "Featuring a legendary artist of this caliber makes perfect sense when you consider that a similar description is appropriate for Bristol Motor Speedway - a one-of-a-kind facility immersed in the history of motorsports but always looking for new ways to enhance the experience both on and off the track."
WBKR's Roxianne Payne is there and she will let Blake know just how good Bocephus was!
It is sure to get rowdy in Bristol this weekend!
Blake’s Pick for Bristol
After a strong finish last week in Michigan, Kurt Busch will be heading to one of his favorite tracks this weekend in Bristol. My pick for Saturday night is the #78!
Moon’s Pick for Bristol
WBKR’s coverage of the Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol begins at 5:30 PM Saturday night on WBKR & WBKR.com!