Recent changes to the track surface at Bristol Motor Speedway are a question mark, but the uncertainties hold the promise of closer racing. If so, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series points standings are on the same wavelength.
The truck tour’s season-long points are as close as can be heading into Wednesday night’s UNOH 200 (8 p.m. ET, SPEED) at Bristol, which celebrates its 20th year of racing on concrete this weekend. The concrete that greets drivers this weekend, however, will be different than the surface that last hosted races in March.
With designs on spicing up the competition by making racing room harder to come by, track officials ground down a significant portion of the progressive banking from the top groove of the fast, .533-mile track. No one will know whether the desired effect is achieved until the trucks hit the track in large groups.
The wild-card nature of the race could shuffle the ever-tightening points, which ended in a dead heat after last Saturday’s event at Michigan International Speedway. A sixth-place finish at Michigan helped top rookie Ty Dillon draw even atop the standings with Timothy Peters, who lost sole possession of the lead with a nondescript 13th-place run.
For Dillon to lead the points by himself, he’ll have to be a quick study on a track where he’s only been as a spectator.
“I’ve been to a lot of races there, but I’ve never actually gotten behind the wheel and raced at the famed half-mile,” Dillon said. “It will be great to be able to race back-to-back this week. It’s easier to keep the momentum going when there aren’t a few weekends off between races. I’ve heard it’s a lot of fun to race there, so I’m going to have as much fun as possible and learn everything I can during practice.”
Peters, who has scored three of his four career trucks wins on short tracks, said he hopes to keep his Red Horse Racing truck out of trouble at a place where mayhem can happen in a hurry. Staying clean may be that much harder on the new configuration.
“There’s still going to be great side-by-side racing but you’re not going to be able to go up to the wall like in the past there,” Peters said. “So I think whoever gets their truck working well on the bottom, it’s going to be just like the old Bristol and that’s going to be your winner.”
If either of the co-leaders encounter trouble, there are plenty of rivals within striking distance. James Buescher, a three-time winner in the series this season, is just six points off the top with fourth-place Justin Lofton 17 points back. Parker Kligerman rounds out the logjam in the top five, which are separated by just 25 points.
NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES
The Race: UNOH 200
The Place: Bristol Motor Speedway
The Date: Wednesday, Aug. 22
The Time: 8 p.m. (ET)
TV: SPEED, 7:30 p.m. (ET)
Radio: MRN, Sirius XM Ch. 90
Distance: 106.6 miles (200 laps)