Some news and notes to ponder while waiting for Sunday's gr een flag at Bristol Motor Speedway:
Franchitti on Bristol experience: `incredible'
Just seeing Bristol Motor Speedway for the first time is a memorable experience, but it's even more of an eye-opener for a driver racing on the high-banked .533-mile concrete oval."It's a fantastic track," Dario Franchitti said. "You can see the whites of the fans' eyes. It's just incredible."
The 2007 IndyCar Series champion said the only thing he's seen or done that comes close was driving an Indy car around the three-quarter mile track at Richmond, Va.
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"When you consider how heavy these stock cars are at the speeds we are running, it's an unbelievable track," he said.
Franchitti said he has learned a lot from practices leading into today's Food City 500. "We had a big problem (Friday), the car was snapping loose in the middle of the corners," he said. "We were able to fix that problem."
Franchitti's best lap was 31st quickest during the final practice Saturday.
"I just don't know what to expect from the race," he said. "It's going to be crazy."
Sam Hornish Jr. spun his car twice early during Friday's practice but worked up to 24th on the chart during the final session.
"It's different from anywhere else you're ever going to go to," he said. "It's a lot of fun, (but) I'm still trying to get comfortable. Things happen really fast here."
Burton a veteran of tire competition
Jeff Burton was in NASCAR the last time there was more than one tire manufacturer.
"I have lived through the tire war and there was nothing positive that I could see from that," Burton said. "The only positive is that if one tire manufacturer has some sort of major financial issue or if they couldn't provide product, if you had a strike or something like that you would have something to fall back on."
Burton was one driver who used Hoosier tires.
"By no means is it my opinion that we would make Goodyear step up and do a better job if we had two manufacturers," he said. "I'm in complete opposition of that. ...
"I'm the driver that goes to Goodyear every three or four weeks and says `I don't care how they drive, make them where they won't blow out.' At the end of the day if I have to make a choice, that's the one I'm going to choose every time. Can we do both? I don't know."
If it's not one thing ...
One problem with the tires last weekend in Atlanta was they were so hard they didn't wear out. The opposite could be an issue Sunday.
"The left sides are wearing a lot," said Kasey Kahne, who had the fastest lap during the final practice before rain set in. "There's a lot of tire rubber on the track, which is going to make it kind of tough for two- and three-wide racing."
Small bits of rubber called "marbles" coming off the tires were collecting against the outside wall during Saturday's practices.
A Goodyear official said last week he doubts Tony Stewart will be invited back for more tire tests because Stewart didn't appear to be "into it" at Las Vegas late last year. I don't know if that's true, but I know it was stupendously dumb for somebody from Goodyear to say that given what's gone on this past week. The only way it can come off is that Goodyear is being vindictive toward Stewart for his comments after the race in Atlanta. You don't have to invite him back, but you also don't have to tell everybody you're basically blackballing him, either.
It was 3 p.m. Saturday when the jet dryers fired up after the first big band of rain moved through. And yes, the crowd cheered.
Here's a friendly tip. If you're ever in the area where a major NASCAR race is scheduled and you're of a mind to try to avoid bumping into throngs of fans, don't go to a Wal-Mart or to a Cracker Barrel. Trust me.
Jim Utter got to pick first this week, so I can't pick the same guy. So I'll go for a driver whose calm demeanor and methodical efficiency seem to work extremely well for him at this track, where patience is quite the virtue.
WINNER: Matt Kenseth
The hottest driver in NASCAR won this race a year ago, and nothing he has done this year makes me believe he can't do it again today.WINNER: Kyle Busch Just The Facts
Food City 500
WHERE: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
TRACK TYPE: .533-mile concrete oval with banking from 24 to 30 degrees in the turns.
RACE DISTANCE: 500 laps (266.5 miles).
WHEN: 2 p.m. Sunday.
WEATHER: Partly cloudy, high near 50.
RADIO: Performance Racing Network.
|7.||77||Sam Hornish Jr.||Dodge||2007|
|11.||1||Martin Truex Jr.||Chevy||2007|
|15.||88||D. Earnhardt Jr.||Chevy||2007|
|36.||2||Kurt Busch||Dodge||'07 win|