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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Tire changes create intrigue at Bristol; Danica Patrlck facing an entirely new challenge this weekend

There’s nothing like a Goodyear surprise to make things even more interesting for the drivers at Bristol, a place that’s already full of excitement from the get-go.

After extreme tire wear during practice (tires lasting about 30 laps instead of 100+ as they should), Goodyear and NASCAR decided to bring in a different right-side compound for the Nationwide and Cup races this weekend (the compound used last summer). Goodyear planned to bring in 1200-1300 tires from a Charlotte-area warehouse Friday evening.

This is a wise move, as the sport does not need another debacle like we saw at Indy a few years back. Any sign that the tires are not working and would result in a race reminiscent of that poor excuse for a race requires instant action, and NASCAR was right to step in so quickly.

The teams won’t have much time to adjust to the new compound, but it’s a necessary change and throws another wrinkle in the always-exciting Bristol weekend.

Drivers were on board with the change.
Kasey Kahne said there just wasn’t enough rubber being put down on the track, and the change should lead to a better race Sunday.

"I think it's a really big deal, but I think it's the right decision. We have to do something -- this tire is just not putting rubber down on the track,” Kahne said. “I thought the tire the last couple of years has been great here. Not real sure why we have a different tire and didn't tire test. We do and I think they are fixing the call so I think we'll be fine. We just don't get a lot of practice with that one set that we're going to get. It's going to be equal for everybody. It will turn out to be a really good race on Sunday."

Kyle Busch said the change is the same for everyone, so it’s all the same in the end.

"It doesn't matter. It's the same for everybody so you just race with it. When you get out of a good driving car and you have a good feel of how to get around this place, you can pretty much change anything you want and you'll be alright," he said.

Danica likely to find headache, not history, at Bristol
In her second stint in NASCAR, Danica Patrick has gotten off to a much better start – but this week is a whole different ball of wax – Bristol.
Danica has said she just wants to finish the race, and I’m glad to see she’s being realistic about the daunting task she faces this week (Bristol is not nice to newcomers).

I put the odds on Danica being around for the checkered at under 50 percent, but who knows – maybe she’ll surprise us.

Bad news, good news for Brian Keselowski
There was some bad news, and then some good news, for Brian Keselowski this week. The bad news came on the health front, as he found out he had to have emergency surgery for gallstones, sidelining him for the next two races.

The good news came Friday when his fill-in driver Dennis Setzer got his #92 car qualified into the race at Bristol, something Keselowski had failed to do at Phoenix and Vegas after his storybook entry into the Daytona 500. With a small team like this, just making races can be a lifeline to survival, so Setzer making the race will no doubt make him smile even though he’s going through some health issues.

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