Drivers Confirm Bristol’s Third Groove ‘Gone’
BRISTOL, Tenn. — Three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers participated in a Goodyear tire test Tuesday at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The test was the result of the grinding work done to the track during the past month in an effort to improve the racing and bring back fans to the legendary .533-mile concrete oval.
Three-time series champion Tony Stewart was the only driver to try the high groove, which was essentially eliminated by the grinding process, which was designed to remove the track’s variable banking.
“Well, you’ve definitely lost the top groove,” Stewart said. “Guys who run up there aren’t going to be able to do that because it’s pretty slick up there. There’s going to be less room to race, that’s for sure. We’ve gone from a three-groove track to two grooves and any time you’ve got less room to get around it can get pretty interesting.
“I’m one of the guys who likes that high groove so it’s really going to change things up for me. It’ll change things for everybody though because when you take away room to race on a track this small with 43 cars… yeah, it’s going to tighten things up.”
Jeff Burton, who also tested Wednesday thinks eliminating the outer groove is a good thing.
“By taking away that groove, it is going to change your mind about going up there,” said Burton. “I think it is going to be two grooves, unless Goodyear brings a tire with a lot of grip. If that is the case, you’ll want to run around the bottom. Making the groove smaller is a good thing. It is going to put the action back to the bottom and middle of the track.”
Clint Bowyer also participated in the test.
“The closer we have to race just means something’s going to happen,” he said. “Is it going to make fans happy? Well, narrowing up the track means less room to get around so there’s no question there’s going to be closer action.”
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