Rome has its Colosseum and so does the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series circuit. Bristol Motor Speedway self-titled its .533-mile oval, the “last great Colosseum.” Clint Bowyer and the rest of NASCAR travel there this weekend ready to do battle.
Bowyer has said in the past: “It’s just one of my favorite racetracks – it always has been. Whether you get caught up in something or not, whether you get a bad finish or a good finish – it’s just a colosseum.”
The concrete track, which opened in 1961, may not be as old as its Italian counterpart, which was completed in AD 72. But both have played host to epic battles in front of raucous crowds, Rome with seating for approximately 55,000 and the Tennessee-track with more than a 100,000 seat capacity.
All those eyes will be on the competitors this weekend. Not only does Bowyer like the track, he knows how to get around the “bullring.” He finished in the top 10 in half of the 16 races he has run and was leading in the fall when a lapped car took him out of contention.
Bowyer is ready to bring his No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota to the battle. Sunday will show who else was ready.
How do you think qualifying will be at Bristol?
“Qualifying has been pretty intense the last couple of weeks. We’ve actually been pretty decent. I made a trip to the media center last Friday (to talk with media after qualifying third) so we must be doing something right. But I’m looking forward to the bullring. I like Bristol. It should be pretty hairy out there for qualifying again.”
What’s your outlook going into Bristol?
“We’ve been fast off the truck every week. I expect the same this weekend. We’ve just got to execute a little better and learn from our mistakes. We had a great 5-hour ENERGY Toyota last weekend. We were running sixth there at the end and unfortunately, I hit the wall. But we’ve had speed every week at the track so far and that’s important. We almost won this thing last time and I got taken out by a lap car when I was leading. I love this little track. It’s going to be a good show.”
CREW CHIEF BRIAN PATTIE
How would you assess the season so far?
“Our finishes may not show it, but we are running well. We’ve had speed every weekend. We just need to make sure we finish as good as we’ve been running. Bristol is a good track for Clint and the 5-hour ENERGY Toyota. We’ve run top five there almost every race. The trophy is cool there and at Martinsville and we usually run well at both places. We’re going to try to get us one of them the next few weeks.”