By The Numbers: Bristol Night Race Passed The Eye Test, Not The Numbers Test

By all accounts, the Bristol Night Race delivered once again.

Recent races at Bristol have been the best, most complete races a fan could ever want. Multiple leaders, battles throughout the field, multiple lines, it’s the best short track on the schedule right now. Yet, NASCAR’s mouth breathing sect of fans want “the old Bristol back.” You know the one that was a single lane on the bottom and the only way to pass was to move someone out of the way. Great drama for the last 5 laps, not great for the other 495 laps.

The “new” Bristol has provided great racing. The general sentiment from at least the last three races at Bristol was that they were great races. And they were. We’ve always said the loop data doesn’t matter if the fans are entertained. People are entertained by the recent races at Bristol, this blog included. The interesting part is this package produced some of the worst numbers in the last 6 years at Bristol.

The 2019 high downforce package produced the lowest number of green flag passes, and the second-lowest number of quality passes. Yet it was one of the best races of the year. Much like Talladega which featured a lower number of passes but a higher number of fans who enjoyed it. Bristol was essentially the same thing.

Certainly, the high downforce package hampered the number of passes. Multiple times we heard drivers talk about an aero push, on a half-mile short track. Matt DiBenedetto got a little fender damage from the human kidney stone Ryan Newman and it ruined his race. On a short track, a little damage shouldn’t ruin someone’s race.

Compared To The Spring

Bristol is the first short track the series has visited for a second time this season. Here are the numbers from the spring.

The spring race produced better numbers in both categories. The biggest difference was in track prep. Although the top lane rubbered in as Saturday night’s race progressed the track did scrub it before the weekend hoping to create the “old Bristol.” Another key factor has to be the three extra cautions in the spring.

Combine that with the fact teams have had time to tweak on these cars and it created an interesting conundrum. This package isn’t great for short tracks.

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