There are several periods during the season in which the diversity of NASCAR’s schedule is showcased; the beginning of the year is one of those times. In the first four weeks of the season, the Cup series visits a restrictor-plate superspeedway; a flat, 1-mile oval; a doglegged, 1.5-mile progressively banked track; and a short course. After Bristol, the series rolls into Fontana for a visit to a 2-mile unrestricted, intermediate speedway and this means drivers need to adjust quickly to new conditions. That is part of what makes this brand of stock-car racing the best in the world.

Bristol holds a unique place in the hearts of both drivers and fans. It is the first short-track race of the season and jamming 43 cars on a track that is only a little longer than two city blocks is a recipe for excitement. But the short tracks also are where most of the drivers in the field and a sizable number of the fans in the grandstands got their first taste of action. Bristol is old school; it is the root of racing.