Friday, March 23, 2007

The House of Pain

With an unnatural roar, the Gladiators enter the ring. The crowd greets them with an equal, perhaps even louder roar. Forty-three seasoned fighters join in a free-for-all battle. For each of them, it is all or nothing. Many of the warriors will fall, but they will survive to fight another day, for this is a bloodless battle. They will be battered and bruised, but their resolve for future battles will be hardened.
Not one of the Gladiators will remain untouched during this battle. The crunch of metal against metal, the screeching of stressed equipment--these sounds combine with the tumultuous sounds of the crowd and the warriors to underscore the intensity and violence of the battle. In the end, emerging from the smoke, only one will be crowned Victor.

The Arena is known as Bristol Motor Speedway, near Bristol, Tennessee, also known to racers as Thunder Valley. It is a Mecca of racing on the same scale as Daytona and Darlington. Though a win at Bristol may not be seen as prestigious as a win at the Daytona 500, it is probably much tougher to win. The race car driver is never out of traffic--there is no such thing as "clean air." Aerodynamics are not involved, tires will outlast the green flag runs, and success depends mostly on the skills of the driver.
To attempt to predict the outcome of a race at Bristol is a foolish thing, but "fools rush in where angels fear to tread," and it is too much fun to try to answer the question. "who do'ya think is gonna win?"

Here are the ten drivers whom this writer thinks have the best chance.
Kurt Busch always seems to do well at Bristol. It is the kind of racing he likes, perhaps his favorite kind of racing. His former teammate, Matt Kenseth, can almost always be counted on to finish in the top ten. The statistics can be misleading for Denny Hamlin, because he doesn't have as many starts as most of the other drivers, but he does have the best finishing position to starts ratio among the current drivers at Bristol. "Smoke," aka Tony Stewart has everything it takes to win at Bristol, as does Jeff Gordon. Scott Riggs is going to win a race sometime this season, and his skills seem to fit Bristol fairly well. Greg Biffle needs a change of luck, but he too is a good short track racer, and perhaps that change of luck will come Sunday. Kasey Kahne won his first Cup race--I believe his first NASCAR race, in fact, in the fall of 2005 at Bristol. We have to believe he will remember that, and count him among those with the best chance to win. Dale Earnhardt, Jr knows how to race Bristol. It was the most difficult track for him to learn, but he has learned much at that track, and is almost a Bristol specialist.

The Victor stands tall among the fallen, raising the trophy high above his head, to the great adulation of the crowd. He is tired, but the emotions of the battle are still raging within him.
Counting only on gut feeling, my prediction of that winner is...Kevin Harvick. I can't even tell you why, except to throw in the phrase, "Richard Chilldress Racing." This is RCR's season of dominance, and it is Harvick's turn to carry the standard--at least for a week.
Godspeed to all these Gladiators, and may the best man win.

1 comment:

Racefan57 said...

Great blog as always

Go Denny...Go Tony..DNF Jeffy boy...LOL