BRISTOL, Tenn. — Bristol Motor Speedway is about to give NASCAR's Gen-6 car its first short-track test.
After visits to Daytona, Phoenix and Las Vegas to open the season, the Sprint Cup Series' first stop at a racetrack of less than a mile will provide a new challenge to the car's performance and adaptability.
Five-time series champion Jimmie Johnson thinks fans will see a different kind of racing in Sunday's Food City 500 at BMS.
“I think short-track racing is going to be short-track racing,” said Johnson, who won the 2010 Food City 500. “The bumpers aren’t as square so the bump-and-run can be far more effective. It was really tough to get somebody out of the way with the CoT or Gen-5 car, so we might see a little difference there. I think the crash damage is going to be different.
“There is some glass on the nose of these cars that we can fold up pretty easily and we might have to cut noses off the cars even from not being part of a crash, but just the stack-up on the restart might cave in noses. We might have some modified looking vehicles out there running around.
"There will be a learning process. I don’t think the aero balance and implications there will come through, but we’ll be talking a lot more about less weight, the type of camber we’re allowed to run this year and things like that.”
The Gen-6 car, which more resembles those found in showrooms, weighs 160 pounds less than the Gen-5 car. Johnson feels that will make a difference at BMS Sunday.
“I think the mechanical aspects will help the cars at Bristol,” he said. “The last time there we were very curious about the grinding and what would happen and what wouldn’t. The track just changed in some ways and we will just go back and get in a rhythm and see what happens.”
Practice for both the Food City 500 and Jeff Foxworthy’s Grit Chips 300 Nationwide Series race take place Friday, starting at 10:30 a.m. Qualifying for the Food City 500 is set for 3:40 p.m. Qualifying for the Grit Chips 300 is Saturday at 10:35 a.m.
The green flag falls on the Food City 500 just after 1 p.m. Sunday. The Grit Chips 300 is Saturday at 2 p.m., followed by the DRIVE4COPD 125 K&N Series race.
To purchase BMS tickets, call 1-866-415-4158 or visit www.bristoltix.com.