Bristol Motor Speedway has long been known as a track that produces some of the most exciting racing on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The facility, which held its first NASCAR race in 1961, is a fan favorite, as evidenced by its 53 consecutive sellouts.
Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates drivers Martin Truex Jr., Aric Almirola and Juan Pablo Montoya discussed what it’s like to race at the high-banked oval, as well as what it would mean to win there.
“I am really excited to be returning to Bristol, especially after the success that we had there last season (finishing 8th and 13th),” Almirola said. “After those races, I really feel that I have a sense of what it takes to do well at such a competitive track. Racing there is just a ton of fun, especially since they repaved and added the progressive banking.
“What we were able to accomplish last season truly gave me the confidence to explain what I was feeling in the car. This will help us get the car just right during practice and qualifying.
“For me, winning there would be awesome because it would be my first Cup Series win. To get my first win at such a competitive, demanding race track would be amazing. I mean, it is Bristol.”
Montoya acknowledged the rough-and-tumble action that the track produces, but admitted that Bristol has become one of his favorite places to pilot the No. 42 Target Chevrolet.
“I like Bristol a lot,” Montoya said. “Of all the places I have ever raced, when someone asks me what track they need to go to, I always tell them Bristol. As a driver you are up on the wheel all the time and you are always racing no matter where you are on the track.”
Montoya has three top-20 finishes in four starts at the track.
Truex, driver of the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevrolet, says that keeping control of your temper can be as tough as keeping control of your car when racing at the tight, 0.533-mile track.
“Bristol is like being in the middle of a bull ring,” Truex said. “Someone is always bumping into you or you are bumping into someone else. You never get a chance to rest so you have to keep your temper in check. Not losing your cool is one of the biggest keys to winning at Bristol.
“The race is intense and the biggest challenge is to keep your focus on the car. If you spend too much time being upset because someone hit you, then you could miss out on capitalizing on someone else’s mistake. At the end of the day it is always about surviving. You can come home a little banged up as long as you survived the battle.
“To win at Bristol is definitely a big deal. The place has so much history and all of the greats have won there – guys like Petty and Pearson. To add your name to that list would be big for any driver.”