The tech line opened early...
The tech line opened early for two days in preparation for the race.
Just two laps after the mandatory stop on Lap 75, rain showers moved in forcing Kimmel to call the race complete on Lap 77. Of the six caution flags, the most spectacular one of the day belonged to Loose Nuts Racing out of Alabama. On Lap 43, driver Marty Bean got clipped going into Turn 1 and turned into the wall, then swapped ends as the rear slammed the wall. A series of flips and barrel rolls followed before his car came to rest on all four wheels. A fire under the hood was quickly extinguished by the safety crew and, despite the viciousness of the accident, Bean emerged from the carnage unhurt, though a little dazed and dizzy.
"I came into Turn 1 three-wide, my spotter told me there were cars on both the inside and the outside," states Bean. "The inside car tapped me and the car on the outside hit my quarter panel and it just sent me head first into the wall. I have flipped a car before when an axle broke, but that happened so fast I didn't have time to grab my belts. I was just lucky I didn't get hurt badly. This time, when I felt the car start to roll I knew what was happening. I turned loose of the wheel and grabbed my harness because I knew I was along for the ride! When the car finally stopped rolling, I was still holding my breath waiting for someone to hit me. With 54 cars at Bristol, I feel lucky but I am disappointed. While racing hard I knew I was at Bristol so I was trying to be careful so I could be there at the end," says Bean.
"I had issues in qualifying and started 43rd, but at the time of the crash I had moved into the Top 20. My teammate, Richard Patino, made just four more laps than me and got caught up in the next big crash," says Bean.
When asked about the event, Bean seemed to sum up the feelings of every racer on hand at Bristol. "Unbelievable. Standing in the pits looking up at the banking and the stands was overwhelming knowing that I was driving my car that we built on this famous speedway. This didn't seem any different than our local Saturday night track. If we needed something, we would ask and somebody would always come up with it. It was neat seeing racers from all over the country and Canada and it still is like a Saturday night at Birmingham International Raceway. I would be remiss if I didn't thank my family, crew, and sponsors for making this dream come true. I am looking forward to next year, we'll be back. I would also like to thank Frank Kimmel and his awesome crew for making things safe. We went through tech four times to get just our window net passed. They should sleep well at night," finished Bean.
Street Stock racer Beau Mitchell...
Street Stock racer Beau Mitchell broke a motor in practice and had a late engine change. Beau started last in the field but persevered to a 13th Place finish.
The local flavor in the pit area came about due to the fate of a coin toss. Kingsport Tennessee driver Rick Smith won the flip of the coin to drive the car at Bristol over his nephew, Matt Smith. Even though he finished back in the pack, Rick had a great outlook. "If we can take anything away from here that's worth racing again, we're going to try to go to Kentucky next month and he's going to drive. This is our sixth season with this car and we have two victories at Newport and a lot of Top Five finishes. The corners come up quick here, but now I can say I raced at Bristol," says Rick.
The most serious melee of the day came at Lap 60 when a 12-car pileup ensued on the front stretch. Kempf was able to navigate through it but did take some damage that tore the front fender away from his car. Not so lucky were the second and third place cars of Barnes and Hudson. While Barnes and Hudson both rebounded to rejoin the field, at the checkered flag it was Kempf, followed by Alan Huddleston in second and Joe Williamson in third. Ironically, but not surprising, the Top Three finishers are former Salem Speedway Track Champions. Huddleston was able to snake past both Barnes and Hudson to get into the second spot and hung on from there. However, getting past the post race inspection was another story.