Bristol: Round five preview

Back-to-back Bristol and Martinsville events the first short-track doubleheader since 1999 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 29, 2005) -- Imagine racing 500 laps in a high-walled, half-mile centrifuge one week, then racing 500 more laps on a much ...

Back-to-back Bristol and Martinsville events the first short-track doubleheader since 1999

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 29, 2005) -- Imagine racing 500 laps in a high-walled, half-mile centrifuge one week, then racing 500 more laps on a much tighter, flatter surface -- and another half-mile -- seven days later.

That's the challenge facing NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers with this week's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. On Sunday, teams will tackle Bristol's high-banked half-mile. The following Sunday, April 10, they'll shift to Martinsville Speedway's flat, brake-burning half-mile. And while Bristol and Martinsville offer vastly different short-track experiences, they share the same uniqueness: Their consecutive-week appearance on the 2005 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup schedule represents the first back-to-back short-track races since 1999.

As recently as 1996, teams faced a three-in-a-row short-track gauntlet: 500-lap showdowns at Bristol, North Wilkesboro Speedway and Martinsville. And although realignment has reshaped the schedule, short tracks remain a NASCAR staple, having hatched many legends and fledgling NASCAR NEXTEL Cup careers.

With much history authored on NASCAR short tracks, here's a look -- in no particular order -- at some of the sport's most memorable short-track events:

1. Bristol Motor Speedway (Aug. 26, 1995) -- Terry Labonte and Dale Earnhardt duel for the checkered flag off Turn 4. Labonte's car limps across the finish line first; Earnhardt finishes second.

2. Martinsville Speedway (April 18, 2004) -- Rusty Wallace (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge) wins the Advance Auto Parts 500, his 55th career victory and first since 2001. Wallace beat Bobby Labonte (No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet) by only .0538 of a second for one of Martinsville's closest finishes.

3. North Wilkesboro Speedway (Sept. 29, 1991) -- Harry Gant bids to become the first modern-era NASCAR driver to win five consecutive races. The polesitter for the Tyson Holly Farms 400, Gant leads 350 laps, but loses the lead -- and ultimately the race -- to Dale Earnhardt on Lap 351. The culprit? A 10-cent "O" ring that malfunctions in Gant's brakes.

4. Bristol Motor Speedway (July 11, 1971) -- Charlie Glotzbach sets the all-time event speed record for Bristol Motor Speedway, winning the caution-free Volunteer 500 at a record speed of 101.074 mph. It's a mark that still stands -- the longest-lived race speed record in NASCAR history.

5. Charlotte Speedway (June 19, 1949) -- Thirty-three cars compete on a ¾-mile track in the first event for NASCAR's newly-formed "Strictly Stock" division, the precursor for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. Jim Roper, of Great Bend, Kan., who had entered the race after seeing an advertisement for it in the 'Smilin' Jack' comic strip, gets the victory when winner Glen Dunaway is disqualified for illegal rear springs.

6. McCormick Field (July 12, 1958) -- Jim Paschal wins on a quarter-mile track in an Asheville, N.C., baseball stadium. Lee Petty, running second on the last lap, bumps Cotton Owens' Pontiac; Petty ends up in a dugout.

7. Bristol Motor Speedway (March 24, 2002) -- Kurt Busch (No. 97 Sharpie Retractable "Autographs for Education" Ford) wins his first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race after using a bump-and-run move on veteran Jimmy Spencer, who is displeased. It's the first of three straight Food City wins for Busch.

8. Martinsville Speedway (Sept. 26, 1993) -- Ernie Irvan wins the Goody's 500 in his fourth start for Robert Yates Racing. It's his first win since succeeding the late Davey Allison in RYR's No. 28 Ford. Irvan wears a Davey Allison T-shirt in Victory Lane.

9. Bristol Motor Speedway (Aug. 28, 1999) -- Terry Labonte and Dale Earnhardt: Round II. Reminiscent of their 1995 duel, Labonte and Earnhardt battle during the last laps of the Goody's Headache Powder 500. Labonte spins out of the lead; Earnhardt wins before a booing crowd of approximately 150,000.

10. Richmond International Raceway (Feb. 23, 1986) -- Kyle Petty (No. 45 Brawny/Georgia-Pacific Dodge) becomes NASCAR's first third-generation winner. Darrell Waltrip's and Dale Earnhardt's Turn 3 tangle with three laps remaining eliminates the top four cars and gives Petty the opportunity to make history.

-nascar-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Ernie Irvan , Darrell Waltrip , Bobby Labonte , Terry Labonte , Rusty Wallace , Kyle Petty , Jimmy Spencer , Kurt Busch , Robert Yates , Charlie Glotzbach , Harry Gant , Lee Petty , Davey Allison
Teams Yates Racing