Beware the havoc that looms at Bristol

March, 12, 2010
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Bristol Motor Speedway, once the toughest ticket in NASCAR and one of the toughest tickets in all of sports, has entered the world of sensationalism.

You know what I mean.

Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards.

Within hours of Edwards' flipping Keselowski with two laps remaining in Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, brain cells were thinking of ways to use that to promote ticket sales at a track that has sold out for 55 consecutive races.

The streak almost ended last year, but thanks to an advertising plan that hadn't been needed in more than 13 years and to a heavy walk-up crowd, it remained intact.

Now, in serious danger of ending, track officials are doing everything possible to move packages. Radio spots promoting the Keselowski-Edwards feud are the last-ditch focus.

Sensationalism at its finest.

And there's nothing wrong with that. Dover did it with Joey Logano's spectacular crash last season. NASCAR still uses the 1979 Daytona 500 wreck and ensuing fight with Cale Yarborough and the Allison brothers to sell tickets.

One radio spot begins with "NASCAR is the talk of the sports world'' because of what happened in Atlanta. That's true, if you forget NFL free agency, spring training and that college basketball tournaments are in full swing.

That is followed by, "Next stop at the track made for chaos,'' which Bristol really is, or was before it was resurfaced it a couple of years ago.

There are sound bites from Sunday. There's the radio call of Edwards flipping Keselowski and several biting comments from the drivers.

Then, in a daunting voice, comes, "Just as the half mile of havoc has been narrowed and emotions run high, the one question on everybody's mind is: [insert more sound bites] What is going to happen [more sound bites] at Bristol?''

What forever was advertised as the "World's Fastest Half Mile'' is now billed the "Half Mile of Havoc.'' And it could be, with soft-wall additions tightening space in the corners.

Whether that moves enough tickets to get a sellout, we may not know until the morning of the race. I am told ticket sales picked up after Sunday. I am also told the track is far short of selling all 160,000 seats.

The only thing we know for sure is that Keselowski and Edwards will be there.

That's not sensationalism; that's a fact.

David Newton | email

ESPN Staff Writer



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