Which version of Bristol do you like best: Old school, variable banking (Aug. 2007-March 2012) or the newest incarnation?
PETE PISTONE (@PPistone)
There was absolutely nothing wrong with the version of Bristol in place before Bruton Smith decided to ground down the outer groove. For my money, the variable banking made the track just about as perfect as could be with side-by-side action, two and three wide competition and racing, not wrecking.
Those who longed for the Bristol of old have selective memories. For every incident that ended with a bump and run, Dale Earnhardt "rattling Terry Labonte's cage," or drivers throwing their helmets at one another (sorry Tony Stewart, you obviously weren't the first), there were dozens of races that featured single-file parades.
Cars would drone around Bristol in conveyor-belt fashion for what sometimes seemed like eternity. And the only way to improve a position or pass was to make contact. Admittedly some enjoyed that approach while others, like myself, were not fans of 22-25 caution flags every race.
When the "new" Bristol saw the light of day in 2007, there was suddenly the best of both worlds. Tight short-track racing around a high-banked bowl with drivers actually able to use their skills to race one another. And guess what, there was still drama and emotion (Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards in 2008 for example) but a race at Bristol no longer resembled a country fair demolition derby.
I'm not sure what these latest changes to the track did if anything at all. But more modifications to reduce Bristol to a one-lane, single-groove speedway would be a monumental mistake.
BRIAN DE LOS SANTOS (@BrianDLS)
While I preferred the "old-school" Bristol, I wouldn't put myself into the faction that was up in arms about what the track had become when it added variable banking.
Mind you, it did take me a couple of years to come around. I thought the first few races after variable banking were rather dull. But then the track began to age a bit and we started to see some terrific racing.
It wasn't the bumping-and-banging style fans had come to expect out of Bristol, but it was still better action than what we see on 75% of the circuit.
I don't think the changes made to the track after this year's March race did quite what Bruton Smith expected, but you know what? I liked it.
It was the best of both worlds. There were still multiple grooves, but narrower, which led to more than a few heated moments.
So, if I had to choose which version of Bristol I like best, give me the new one -- the style we saw Saturday night. However, let's not get too excited one way or the other. It was only one race after all.
It'll be a year or two before we really know what this newest version of Bristol is all about.