Why Are Teams Not Going to Bristol?

“Something doesn’t add up. The Spring Cup entry lists are dwindling, but it doesn’t make sense.

Bristol has 45 cars on the Cup list. The easy conclusion to draw is that teams just can’t afford to run every race. Sure, times are tough-Jeff Gordon is reportedly keeping all the cans tossed at his car for the deposit.

  • The last race at Atlanta had 47 cars entered and slumping attendance (although apparently not as bad as TV made it look).
  • Surprisingly, Fontana (48 cars) and Las Vegas (51 cars) had larger entry lists despite the cross-country treks.

One difference from previous seasons is that NASCAR switched the off-week that traditionally split up the Fontana and Vegas races. This could have enticed some teams to stay out west during the week and make one long drive for two races. I never heard (or wasn’t paying attention) whether this factored into NASCAR’s decision to move the off-week, or whether it was because the Nationwide Series didn’t go to Mexico City this year.

Even if teams did stay out west, it’s a little puzzling why they are skipping races so close to Charlotte. Bristol is a three hour, 175 mile trip and Atlanta is 4 1/2 hours and 225 miles away.

The other factor is the purse for Bristol is comparable to Las Vegas (about $5.6 million). Atlanta’s purse is a bit less, so for a smaller team it makes sense to skip a track in favor of chasing the bigger money at tracks like Texas or Indianapolis. But I just can’t figure out why the fringe teams are passing over Bristol?

Even from a merchandise angle Bristol packs the fans in better than Fontana or Atlanta.

As the old NASCAR chestnut goes, “come for the qualifying laps, stay for the diecast sales” (note:this is not, nor will it ever be, an old chestnut).

The only negative to showing up at Bristol is for a team to actually make the race and get their car torn to pieces in a Reed Sorenson-inspired wreck.

How much can sheet metal really cost? “