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Things Are Getting Sticky For Bristol Cup Race

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, August 20 2016
Layers of rosin have been added to the track at Bristol as officials try to get a grip. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Garry Eller)

Layers of rosin have been added to the track at Bristol as officials try to get a grip. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Garry Eller)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer

BRISTOL, Tenn. – Rosin, a sticky substance that helps rubber adhere to the track, was placed on the low groove in Bristol Motor Speedway’s turns following Friday night’s Xfinity Series race that many dubbed the best in several years.

sprint-logo-08It was the second time in two days the 18 inches of rosin had been applied to the track. NASCAR spokesman Kurt Culbert said the rosin also was applied Thursday night.

Food City 300 winner Austin Dillon and his team owner and grandfather Richard Childress both said in their post-race interview they believed more rosin needed to be added before Saturday night’s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night.

“I think it would make the race more interesting (for a) longer (period of time),” said Dillon, who led once for four laps. “The top line is fun to watch, too. You can’t completely do away with the top line. I think what’s positive is having two lines to race on.

“You need to give that bottom more of an advantage and let that top come in because we all know it’s going to as the tires fall off. I think 20 laps into a run the top is where you need to be. At the end, you want it to be on the bottom for all of the craziness.”

Bristol officials began the chemical application three weeks before the half-mile track’s three NASCAR national touring series races. A speedway spokesman said the chemical took two weeks to apply. Bristol officials took the action in an attempt to improve the racing surface’s lower groove.

It was Bristol officials’ second attempt to improve the racing at the track since it was resurfaced and reconfigured in 2007 to include progressive banking. That move changed the racing dynamic at the track, which basically had been a one-groove facility that resulted in numerous bump-and-run tactics. The 2007 changes, however, weren’t popular with the fans, so in 2012 the track’s upper groove was ground in an effort to reduce the progressive banking. Track officials consulted with several drivers before applying the rosin and it appeared with the sometimes three-wide racing in Friday’s Xfinity race they finally hit a home run.

The Food City 300 had 16 lead changes among seven drivers and eight caution flags for 54 laps. Even though Kyle Larson led four times for 200 laps, he was challenged most of the way by Erik Jones and Kyle Busch. It was the intense, sometimes three-wide racing, though, that sparked excitement among fans and competitors.

Only four laps remained in the race when Busch challenged leader Brad Keselowski for the top spot. Busch tried a slide maneuver, but cut it too close and caught Keselowski’s left front. That put Busch into the wall. Ty Dillon, who was running the high line, had nowhere to go when Busch was against the wall and slammed into him. Both Busch and Dillon were eliminated. Keselowski maintained the lead, but with the race in overtime, his Ford ran out of fuel on lap 305. Austin Dillon inherited the lead and then took Childress’ advice, selecting the high groove on the restart. He held off eventual runner-up Justin Allgaier, third-place finisher Larson and Elliott Sadler who often found themselves three-wide as they charged to the finish of the 308-lap event.

Rain could change the track’s dynamic again for the beginning of Saturday night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race due to washing rubber off the top groove. Two rain showers occurred Saturday afternoon and there was a possibility of rain in the evening. However, Dillon noted that with 40 Sprint Cup cars on the track it wouldn’t take long for the top groove to become conducive to racing.  

“That top actually got rubbered up more than people wanted it to,” Dillon said about the Xfinity race. “The 42 (Larson) was really fast up that early and at one point he came back to the field a little bit because there was too much rubber up there; it became wide and you lost your right front in it.

“If there are some long runs, that top gets rubbered up a lot; the bottom can come back into it later in a run. I think it will move back and forth. They’ve made the track smoother where you can run down there. It used to be so rough you couldn’t stay down there because the springs would bounce across the track.”

Dillon noted it was high-speed grip that left the low groove as the race progressed. It’s still smooth; however, thus allowing one to run on the bottom of the track. Tire wear, however, seemed to be more extensive in the lower groove.

“You just have to pick and choose when to go down there and use the momentum on runs,” Dillon continued. “The good thing is it’s much better than last time when you had to slide someone to pass them.”

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, August 20 2016
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