For Five-Time Winner Gordon, Bristol Has Always Been Special
Four-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon has always had a special affinity for Bristol Motor Speedway. During a recent visit he discussed the vast appeal of World’s Fastest Half-Mile,, not just for fans but for drivers as well. Following is a question and answer session with the five-time Bristol winner who will be back at BMS going after win No. 6 in the IRWIN Tools Night Race Aug. 21.
BMS: Considering your five Cup series wins here at Bristol, what are the special moments that stand out in your mind?
Gordon: “Definitely, Bristol is a special place. A place that I have always looked forward to coming to each event. I always try to get a chance to look at the track the night before when the lights are on and nobody is in the grandstand. And you know, to me Bristol is that surreal place, and luckily I’ve had some great moments on the track while racing to win a few races. I guess the one that stands out is the one that is pretty much the most documented one, is the Bump and Run with Rusty. You know, battling with him throughout the race, and pretty much I had the second place car until we caught traffic there at the end and (I) had a shot at getting by Rusty. Had a couple of moves at the inside, and he put the block on me and I pretty much told myself, ‘one more block and I’m gonna have to use the bumper.’ And sure enough, it was one of those moments that moved him up the track, (I) got by, took the white, came around, took the checkered, won the race and it was an awesome, awesome win.”
BMS: From driver introductions through the checkered flag, just talk about how special it is to race at Bristol.
GORDON: “I think it even begins before that. You look around at the campgrounds and everybody is having a great time, whether they are tailgating or it’s a part of a hospitality visit, and just coming into the facility and seeing what an awesome track it is. I mean, there is no other place like it. It truly has that college stadium feel to it. And certainly the intensity and excitement of the racing that goes on only adds to that. So yeah, it’s different each race we go because we are in this bowl and you get to really feel the crowd and the excitement and you know it’s a high banked little half-mile race track; a lot of action. You know cars are gonna be going fast, there are two and three wide racing, and you know the fans are fired up to see all that great action that they are gonna see.”
BMS: Bristol has tickets available for the IRWIN Tools Night Race. That hasn’t happened in a long time. Fans always say you HAVE to go to Bristol. From a driver’s point of view what would you say to a fan who is thinking about coming to Bristol for the Night Race?
GORDON: “Well, you know I get a chance all the time to visit with fans and also friends of mine who have never been to Bristol before and there are not a lot of fans out there that haven’t been to Bristol. Most of them have been, and love it. But those few that say ‘I’d like to get to Bristol, I’m not really sure’, and some of my friends that are thinking about coming to a race, I always tell them if there is one race that you can go to, you gotta go to Bristol. It’s just one of the coolest experiences. The racing is always fantastic, there’s always plenty of action and drama, and sparks are flying. And I think just to feel the energy that comes from Bristol Motor Speedway, from the crowd, the tailgating, the whole experience, it just doesn’t get any better than Bristol.”
BMS: What do you anticipate happening at Bristol in August, considering the “have at it” way you guys have been able to race this year?
GORDON: “Well, you know, I think that they’ve (NASCAR) been pretty consistent this year with how they are going to react. You know they have really allowed us to keep things on the race track and take things into our own hands and handle things respectfully. You know if you do something that is very intentional, drastic, and it’s just clear that that could have been a dangerous situation, then you know they are gonna step in. But when it’s just hard racing, and you make a mistake, or you are just racing hard and you have contact, they are gonna let that go, and let you as a driver deal with that with other drivers, the way we have for years.”
BMS: What’s the difference between the bump and run and what Carl (Edwards) did at Gateway. Where do you draw the line?
GORDON: “Well, I think the line is drawn when your intentions are to move a guy up the race track and get by him, and execution too. You know even if your intentions are ‘hey, I’m just gonna move this guy up with my bumper,’ or ‘I’m gonna go in there and lean on the guy’. You know, you cut their tire, you turn them into the wall, you spin them out. You know those are things that you are probably going to regret later. And also, you know that’s taking it too far. Moving the guy up where he wiggles a little bit and you make a pass and he keeps going. I think those are going to be a lot more acceptable. The guy is still going to be angry, but if you end up spinning, crashing, getting hit by other cars, I think that’s where NASCAR needs to step in and that’s where pay back is definitely gonna be coming down the road.”
August race week at BMS kicks off Aug. 18 with a doubleheader that features the O’Reilly 200 Camping World Truck Series race and the UNOH Perfect Storm 150 Whelen Modified Series event. The Food City Nationwide Series race is Friday night, Aug. 20.
Tickets for the IRWIN Tools Night Race are available for $109 each. These single-event tickets are renewable. Tickets for the Food City 250 start at $45 while Wednesday night tickets are $30.
Fans also may purchase a three-day package, which features all four NASCAR races, starting at only $170. Fans able to attend just the Friday and Saturday events may purchase a two-day package, beginning at $126.
To purchase tickets, please contact the BMS ticket office at its toll free number 1-866-415-4158 or 423-BRISTOL (274-7865). Tickets may also be purchased at www.bristoltix.com