Is the bottom groove at Bristol getting faster?

Cars race during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 18, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Cars race during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 18, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Cars race during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 18, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

BRISTOL, Tenn.—Drivers at Bristol Motor Speedway are starting to like it on the bottom.

Ever since the grinding of the concrete racing surface in 2012, the top lane has been the fastest way around the .533-mile short track, but that may be changing.

During qualifying runs for Sunday’s Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes on Friday afternoon, Kasey Kahne moved to the bottom of the track and found speed there.

“My first qualifying attempt was through the middle, and I just didn’t have quite the speed that I wanted, so I ran the next two around the bottom, and I felt like I picked-up when I was down there,” said Kahne, who qualified eighth for Sunday’s Food City 500 in Support of Steve Bynres (1 p.m. ET on FOX), the only Hendrick Motorsports driver to crack the top 12. “The track has been interesting today. To me, there’s been a little less grip up high, compared to what it’s been for a while here.

“Usually in practice and qualifying you’re a bit higher than what we were today. So, I was a little surprised by that. But it’s still a long ways away from how it’s going to be for race day, and during the race, it will change as well. I think maybe it’s a good thing. Maybe we’ll be able to race all over the track on Sunday rather than just as much on the top. That would be good.”

The question remains whether the short way around the bottom of the track will continue to provide speed once the racing surface gets rubbered in during Sunday’s race.

About Greg Engle 7420 Articles
Greg is a published award winning sportswriter who spent 23 years combined active and active reserve military service, much of that in and around the Special Operations community. Greg is the author of "The Nuts and Bolts of NASCAR: The Definitive Viewers' Guide to Big-Time Stock Car Auto Racing" and has been published in major publications across the country including the Los Angeles Times, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He was also a contributor to Chicken Soup for the NASCAR Soul, published in 2010, and the Christmas edition in 2016. He wrote as the NASCAR, Formula 1, Auto Reviews and National Veterans Affairs Examiner for Examiner.com and has appeared on Fox News. He holds a BS degree in communications, a Masters degree in psychology and is currently a PhD candidate majoring in psychology. He is currently the weekend Motorsports Editor for Autoweek.