Change Bristol? Brad Keselowski says no

March, 23, 2012

FONTANA, Calif. -- If you think Brad Keselowski might have changed his opinion this week on reconfiguring Bristol Motor Speedway, think again.

Keselowski, who won the race at Bristol last weekend, is more adamant than ever about leaving the half-mile oval the way it is.

"I think the racetrack is as good or better as it has ever been," he said Friday. "The whole reconfiguration story doesn't go very far with me. Personally, I think it's irresponsible, misinformed and, at best, self-serving for any driver or media member who goes out there and criticizes the track.

"I don't think that's right. I think there are drivers that struggle there as the track has been reconfigured and have ulterior motives to point the finger at the surface reconfiguration instead of their own teams' performance."

Several drivers were asked Friday if they thought Bristol Motor Speedway owner Bruton Smith should change the track to try to bring about more bumping and banging like the old Bristol.

Keselowski said he wants to call Smith.

"But I never got his cell number,'' Keselowski said. "That's why he hasn't heard from me."

The half-mile oval was repaved and reconfigured in 2007 to add progressive banking, something Smith said he opposes. Dale Earnhardt Jr. would like Smith to give him a call before making a decision.

"There are some drivers he ought to talk to about it," Earnhardt said. "There were some things about that racetrack before that I liked. One of the reasons why it was so good was because the yellow line was about a foot off the apron. That provided grip for the left-front tire.

"Whatever he decides to do, talk to the drivers. We are the ones out there running on it and can provide some insight. We don't have all the answers, but I'm sure we can give him some things they can improve on if that's what they want to do. It's not just the [progressive] banking. It isn't ever just one thing."

Denny Hamlin doesn't think it's possible to make Bristol what it used to be.

"I don't know how they'll do it," Hamlin said. "The old Bristol was the old Bristol because it was old. It's hard to duplicate that. If they're going to repave it, make it asphalt and not concrete."

Kevin Harvick said he doesn't know if Smith can make Bristol what it used to be, but Harvick said he misses it.

"I enjoyed the old Bristol," he said. "I like that rough-and-tumble type of racing. I know a lot of the car owners and some of the drivers don't like that style of racing. That's what made Bristol what it was.

"People don't want to watch cars ride around with no donuts on the doors and no caved-in fenders at Bristol. They don't want to see a 200-lap green-flag run. That's not what they come to Bristol for, and that's why they quit coming."

Terry Blount

ESPN Staff Writer



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