News & Media


SMI considering track changes to Bristol

March 21, 2012, The Associated Press, NASCAR.com

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Owner says fan comments will ultimately decide if changes are necessary

Bristol Motor Speedway owner Bruton Smith is considering about $1 million worth of changes to return his Tennessee track to the way it was before a 2007 reconfiguration.

"We are going to take a very hard look at it this week," Smith told the Associated Press on Monday. "We have everything in our computers that shows us what the track used to be and what it is now, and we started working on that last night. I'll have an answer for you next week on if we'll alter the track."

"The fans vote is the most important thing."

--BRUTON SMITH

The .533-mile bullring was long one of the most popular venues in NASCAR because of the aggressive style drivers had to adopt to be competitive on the tight track. The August night race is considered a showcase, and the combination of bumping and banging for 500 laps on a hot summer night usually led to an explosion of tempers.

It mellowed a bit after the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship was formed in 2004, and drivers trying to make NASCAR's title-deciding format had to be cautious that late in the season. Then came the 2007 reconfiguration, which added variable banking in the corners and opened lanes for two- and three-wide racing.

With so much room, there's not as much contact between the cars, and fans have complained that Bristol just isn't the same.

Smith said SMI will study fan comments this week.

"I want to be sure that the fans like what they see," Smith said. "If the fans like three abreast through the turns, we do nothing. If they don't, then we'll alter the track. The fans vote is the most important thing."

If changes are made, they'll be done in time for NASCAR's Aug. 25 return to Bristol.

"If I am going to do anything, I am going to guarantee we are going to do it before August," he said.