Wallace Inspects New Bristol

Late Thursday afternoon Bristol Motor Speedway president Jeff Byrd received a surprise call from Rusty Wallace. The nine-time winner at the World's Fastest Half-Mile was in the area and wanted to stop by and take a spin on the new concrete surface.

And the former NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion had no intention of taking a nice, leisurely drive around the .533-mile oval. Instead, Wallace climbed into the BMS pace car and ripped off lap after lap at speeds around 95 mph.

His verdict?

"On a scale of 1 to 10, what do I think?" It's a 10," Wallace said.

Wallace, who knew the old BMS surface as well or better than anyone, was so excited about his impromptu test that it made him reconsider his retirement - at least momentarily.

"Man, I think I retired about two years too early," he said before deciding on the spot that he was going to participate in Tuesday's Busch Series test at BMS. "I'm going to get on this track in Steven's Busch car on Tuesday. You bet I am.

"Darrell (Waltrip) might have gotten to tear the track up (after the March race) but it's pretty darn cool that I got to be the first on the new surface. I'm really glad I got to do this. Nothing could be cooler."

"This place is great. I love the transition. The straightaways are so smooth. It's a little bumpy in the corners but it's got character and you've got to have character. It's going to be faster, yeah. And there's going to side-by-side racing. If at some point during the races (in August) you don't see ‘em three wide a couple times, I'll be really surprised."

Wallace says drivers are going to be able to put their cars in a lot of places on the track.

"Honestly, I think they will run all over the place," he said. "I think they will qualify low because it's the shortest way around but I think they will race all over this track. I think they are going to be able to carry speed off the corner and pass on the straightaways.

"It looks fantastic.I didn't really know what to expect before I got here. I was a little worried about how this was going to turn out but I tell you, these guys did an unbelievable job."

How "unbelievable?" Asked how he rated the BMS resurfacing compared to other tracks who had undergone facelifts, Wallace had nothing but high praise.

"I've been through a lot of these (resurfacing) at different places," he said. "This, this ranks right up there at the top. I don't know how these (Nextel Cup) guys can't love this. It's so, so much better. Man, it's really good."

BMS will host the Craftsman Truck Series for a test session on Monday, July 23 and the Busch Series on Tuesday, July 24 in preparation for the O'Reilly 200 (Aug. 22), Food City 250 (Aug. 24) and sold-out Sharpie 500 (Aug. 25).

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