BRISTOL, TN (June 7) -- Last year, when Bristol Motor Speedway covered their high-banked, concrete race track with dirt and staged two dirt events, many people couldn't believe they were able to pull it off. This weekend, the track will...
BRISTOL, TN (June 7) -- Last year, when Bristol Motor Speedway covered their high-banked, concrete race track with dirt and staged two dirt events, many people couldn't believe they were able to pull it off.
This weekend, the track will host the Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series' Second Annual CHANNELLOCK Challenge at Bristol Friday and Saturday night. To follow their form of innovative race ideas, the track has added a special attraction to this year's event. On Saturday, four WoO competitors will drive J&J Outlaw sprint cars provided by Dave Blaney's Outlaw Driving Experience in match races against four Pro Stock competitors in the inaugural Lucas Oil Thunder Valley Challenge.
"We were throwing ideas around with the folks at Bristol Dragway and thought it might work," said Jeff McCall, General Manager of Dave Blaney's Outlaw Driving Experience. "It goes along with the whole CHANNELLOCK Challenge weekend. Who would have ever thought that they'd put dirt on NASCAR's most popular track, and I'm sure not many people thought they'd ever see a World of Outlaws sprint car in a match race with a Pro Stock."
The "Chicago Style" format will be held at the Bristol Dragway on Saturday around 12:30 p.m. Each competitor will have two "timed passes," and following the qualifying sessions, the sprint car driver with the fastest pass will battle the fastest Pro Stock driver for the Thunder Valley Cup.
"I've never seen anything like this before and I'm certainly curious to see how it unfolds," said Jack Elam, president of J&J Auto Racing. "It will be good for the fans to see the differences in sprint car racing and drag racing. It certainly might help generate more interest in both.
"The outcome is a big question mark right now, but I'm excited to see what happens. We've built special front axles and wing mounts, but other than that they'll be using a standard J&J sprint car."
Pennzoil World of Outlaws Series racers Mark Kinser, Danny Lasoski, Dale Blaney and Johnny Bridges will try to defeat the Pro Stock cars down the quarter-mile strip. Their biggest challenge may be keeping the cars straight all the way down the track. The 1200-pound, 800- horsepower sprint cars are designed to slide through corners at top speeds on dirt. For the drag races, the cars will have matched rear wheels and pavement tires, which should help them to keep the cars straight down the track.
"I'm just hoping they can make a straight run down the track. From what I've seen, those guys like to bang around a bit," joked Allen Johnson, who will lead the Pro Stock contingent which also includes Mike Edwards, Gene Wilson and Joel Bayless. "The biggest challenge will be getting a fair handicapping system, but I'm sure we'll put on a good show. I'm looking forward to having a lot of fun."
The World of Outlaws sprint cars are push-started and will have a running start. The question remains how much of a head start they will get before the Pro Stock drivers can "kill the tree" at the starting line and chase them down.
"We've always tried to be on the cutting edge here," said Mark Cathell, Manager of Bristol Dragway. "I saw a similar event in Pennsylvania a few years back and always hoped we could try it here. With everything else going on this weekend at Bristol, it just made perfect sense to try it. It's a once in a lifetime opportunity, and we're pretty confident that it will be a special show for the fans."
Tickets are available by calling Bristol Dragway at 423-764-3724. Gates will open at 10 a.m. and an autograph session will be held from 11-12 noon.