Busch, Wheelbarrow A Cinch At Bristol These Days

Charlotte, NC (March 21, 2011) – Break out the wheelbarrows. Another dominating performance by Kyle Busch brought us to two conclusions Sunday. The first is that if they raced wheelbarrows at Bristol Motor Speedway, Busch would win. The second is Busch probably needs a wheelbarrow just to take home all the hardware he wins every time he races at the half-mile Virginia track.

Busch captured his fifth-consecutive race Sunday at what is arguably NASCAR’s most difficult track. The 25-year-old driver opened the weekend at Bristol Saturday capturing the Scotts EZ Seed 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race crushing the field by leading 268 of the 300 laps.

On Sunday, Busch was on the point for 152 circuits – including all but one of the last 70 laps – in winning the Jeff Byrd 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race. It was his 10th top-10 finish in his last 11 Bristol Cup races posting a finishing average of 4.72 in those events.

The weekend sweep was Busch’s second-straight whitewash for Busch at Bristol after he captured the Cup, Nationwide and Truck Series events there last fall. Busch now has 11 victories in just 33 combined Cup, Nationwide and Truck Series career starts at Bristol.

Bristol, which devours cars and drivers like they were candy, hasn’t been able to take a bite out of Busch as he has completed all but two of the 5,013 laps that have been contested in his last 10 Cup races there. He hasn’t missed a lap (900) in his last three Nationwide races at Bristol and has completed all 1,209 circuits in his six Truck Series events at the track.

Meanwhile, Busch has led 2,402 of the 10,986 laps he has competed in at Bristol in all three divisions.

Amazing. Busch’s numbers are starting to approach those of Darrell Waltrip, who ruled the ‘Mountain Empire’ track during his NASCAR career. Waltrip won seven-straight NASCAR Cup races at Bristol from 1981-1984 and finished his career with 13 victories (12 Cup, one Nationwide) at the track. In all, Waltrip led 3,510 laps at BMS in his 57 career starts (52 Cup and five Nationwide races) at the track.

Waltrip’s numbers are heady marks to be sure, but Busch is quickly starting to catch up to DW on all fronts. Whether Busch can surpass Waltrip’s records at Bristol still remains to be seen, but at age 25, he has a lot of time and laps left in his career to do it. Should be interesting to watch him try to do it.

It’s A Gas, Gas Gas
On Sunday, vast numbers areas of the 160,000-seat Bristol track were vacant as only an estimated 120,000 showed up for the event. While that is still an amazing crowd and easily the biggest gathering of humanity at a single place on the planet Sunday, the throng paled in comparison to past Bristol spring race crowds.

A closer look revealed even bigger unused areas in the campgrounds outside the speedway. Historically, more than half of the Bristol fan base stays in recreational vehicles on race weekend. This time, with regular gas pushing toward $4 per gallon range and diesel fuel – the drink of choice for many large RV’s – even more expensive, campers stayed home in droves.

The downturn in the world economy took a big bite out of NASCAR – and just about everything else – two years ago. Sunday’s race at Bristol proved once again that regardless of what politicians, analysts and TV talking heads are telling you, the recession isn’t over by any stretch of the imagination. At least, it sure isn’t for NASCAR fans.

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