Get a Grip: Harvick loves new Bristol Motor Speedway


By Pete Iacobelli

AP Sports Writer

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Kevin Harvick believes Bristol Motor Speedway is on to something. Now, he wants similar tracks to follow that lead.

Bristol officials used a tacky resin to “polish” the track and improve grip on the bottom lane so racers would have a two-groove layout and be able to pass down low.

Harvick used the lower groove several times to stick and move past drivers on the way to winning the rain-delayed, water-logged Sprint Cup race Sunday night.

The past few years, Harvick said there was no use taking the low side of the high-banked, concrete track because cars were three-or-four tenths of a second slower.

“Tonight, you could hold your ground, you could get past lapped cars,” he said. “It gave everybody an option to do something different and, as a driver, that’s what you want.”

Harvick pointed out a couple of other similar circuits in need of Bristol’s grippy approach.

“Martinsville needs to call Bristol and say, ‘What do we need to do to make a second lane come in?’ because they did a great job here,” he said. “I think that would be the first place I would attack and do something different.”

Drivers and fans had complained that Bristol had become a top-heavy, one-groove race track where passes were far less frequent than in the bump-and-run days of Darrell Waltrip, Rusty Wallace and the late Intimidator, Dale Earnhardt.

Harvick gushed how Bristol’s gamble could become a blueprint to improve the on-track product.

On Friday night, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch were locked in a pass-happy duel before Busch eventually wrecked and Keselowski ran out of gas — all after 295 of 300 scheduled laps.

“I think Friday night was probably one of the beset Xfinity races I’ve ever sat and watched,” Harvick said with a grin. “Just really happy to see Bristol back where it is this weekend.”

Other things we’ve learned from the weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway:

BAD LUCK BUSCH: Kyle Busch was in position to win both the Sprint Cup and Xfinity races, yet left the track wrecked both times. On Friday night, he tangled with rival Brad Keselowski and wound up in the wall with five laps to go. On Sunday, Busch led a race-high 256 laps, yet got hit by Justin Allgaier after a spin. Busch threw his helmet and called both Allgaier and his spotter the “biggest moron(s) out there.”

GOOD LUCK BUESCHER: Rookie Chris Buescher, the surprise winner at Pocono earlier this month, moved into 30th in points which would qualify him for NASCAR’s Chase. Buescher left here 13 points ahead of David Ragan. Buescher has three races left before the 16-man playoffs begin.

GORDON’S FINISH: Jeff Gordon wound up 11th, his best showing in the four races he’s run in the No. 88 car replacing injured Dale Earnhardt Jr. Gordon won’t drive in Michigan because of a prior commitment. Earnhardt is scheduled for tests and Hendrick Motorsports will update his status early next week.

WHERE’S JGR?: The Joe Gibbs Racing quartet looked like it would sweep the top spots after it finished 1-2-3-5 in qualifying Friday night. It didn’t finish that way Sunday. Denny Hamlin led the way in third while pole-sitter Carl Edwards was sixth. Both Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch were caught up in accidents that ended their chances earlier than expected.

IT’S FOOTBALL TIME: Bristol now goes gridiron. Crews almost immediately started the expected 19-day process to convert the iconic NASCAR track into a frenzied football field in time for No. 9 Tennessee to face Virginia Tech. The infield will become the playing surface in a construction project that involves more than 10,000 tons of stones for the base. The Vols and Hokies play Sept. 10 and then Western Carolina and East Tennessee play a week later.

By Pete Iacobelli

AP Sports Writer

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