Bristol Belongs to Busch
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on March 13, 2014 | 2:32 P.M. EST
Busch has 15 wins across NASCAR’s three national series at the high-banked .525-mile Tennessee track, including five Sprint Cup Series victories. (Photo: Getty Images)
But this week’s trip to Bristol Motor Speedway might provide the shot in the arm Busch is looking for in 2014.
Busch has 15 wins across NASCAR’s three national series at the high-banked .525-mile Tennessee track, including five Sprint Cup Series victories.
There’s just something about Busch and Bristol that has clicked and the Joe Gibbs Racing driver sees no reason for that to stop this weekend.
“It’s just a fun track -- a half-mile, high-banked concrete like that -- the speed you carry around there and I have the track record there,” said Busch, who will run both Saturday’s Nationwide Series race as well as Sunday’s Food City 500. "It’s certainly a crazy race track and there’s not many of them out there that are like it.”
Bristol has undergone several reconfigurations in recent years as track management looks to create a racing product both fans and drivers like. The current layout, which made its debut two seasons ago and has forced drivers to use a higher groove around the speedway, isn’t quite as liked by Busch as its previous incarnation.
However, Busch still looks forward to racing at Bristol.
“Bristol is one of my favorite tracks,” said Busch. “I certainly like the old style. I certainly like the new Bristol -- the new, new Bristol I’m not quite a fan of. Ever since the grind I haven’t quite liked it as much, but that’s for different drivers here or there on different days. Enjoy running around Bristol.”
Although Busch’s start to the year hasn’t been stellar, it’s hardly terrible by any means. And with the new Chase format that will see 16 drivers advance to run for the championship and a regular season win virtually guaranteeing a spot in the playoffs, Busch sees no need for panic.
“I think as long as you can get a win, I don’t think it really matters as much anymore,” Busch said about positions in the point standings. “If you don’t get a win, then you still want to have a strong start because there still are going to be guys who make the Chase without having wins.
“For instance, my start is not terrible, I’m 10th in points, so I’m kind of already in if you look at it that way. Kurt (Busch), for instance has had a horrible start and if he wins here this weekend, then all he has to do is get himself top-30 in points and he’s in. It changes everything and what everybody’s strategy is and what all it’s going to boil down to.”
The new approach to the championship and strategies that have played out in the opening trio of races have carried an unpredictable nature into the early part of the season.
Busch believes it means truly anything can happen this weekend in “Thunder Valley.”
“You never know what you will see at Bristol,” Busch said with a smile. "You could have guys racing each other hard for the win and move the other out of the way just to get that win and lock themselves in.”