Since Bristol's repaving job in the middle of 2007, two grooves have left racing at Bristol lacking the thunderous contact of recent years. Instead, the track nicknamed Thunder Valley has gone from thrilling to tame, the ability to pass cars with ease, eliminating the bump-and-run contact fans loved. Add in a regular season playoff push by several drivers, and this 500-lapper has become a high-speed ballet game of "Please Do Not Touch The Chase Contenders."
This weekend, I expect that to change. The top 11 drivers in the playoffs are all well over 200 points clear of the bubble, meaning a Bristol scuffle won't put them in jeopardy of missing the postseason. That leaves only four drivers realistically jostling for that final spot, not enough for an entire field to live 500 laps in fear. Wins and not titles will be on everyone's mind, with a season filled with "Have at it, boys" also allowing revenge to creep into the picture. It's been well over a decade since we've seen a season filled with so much inner rivalry among drivers, and short tracks are the perfect place to go from getting mad to getting even.
Which one of these driver conflicts has the best chance to boil over on Saturday? Let's look at five pairings to watch heading into the weekend:
"We have a high car count of wrecked cars over at our shop, and those guys on the 48 --it's definitely been a one-way street right now. The guys at Hendrick are pretty boys, they get on
"It's just ridiculous. I don't know what I've ever done to piss him off, but he is apparently stupid."
"You can't talk to him. He's 20."