BRISTOL, Tenn. — Story by Race Chaser Online Northeast Correspondent Kyle Magda — Mark Humphrey/AP photo —
Bristol Motor Speedway’s spring NASCAR dates have hovered around March and April since the .533-mile track opened in 1961.
A possible downside to running early in the season in Tennessee is the chance of inclement weather putting a damper on things. Most of the time in racing, weather delays happen because of rain.
However, that wasn’t the case on a snowy Saturday afternoon in Bristol March 2006. The track is located in a mountainous region and although the chances of snow are low, Old Man Winter paid NASCAR a visit that year.
The Sprint Cup Series and Busch (now XFINITY) Series qualifying were both snowed out from the wintry weather and with the Busch Series running one more race than the Cup guys that year, the series reverted to current owner points, giving Kevin Harvick the pole in the No. 21 Coast Guard Chevrolet.
Jamie McMurray’s strong start to the 2006 Busch season put the No. 64 Rusty Wallace Dodge third in owner points and gave 18-year-old Stephen Wallace a starting spot up front in the Sharpie Mini 300. Wallace snatched the lead from Harvick on lap three before sliding back to second two laps later. Sometimes, rookies don’t fare well in their first series trip to Thunder Valley and even though Wallace won a Pro Cup race there before, the second-generation driver got a tap from Scott Riggs while the caution was already out for Todd Kluever’s spin.
Just 10 laps later, Kluever went around again, and at the same time, the snowy skies opened up again. This was also the first series race at Bristol to have 300 laps, 50 circuits longer than in years past.
Thoughts of snowballs danced in everyone’s heads as the Bristol fans began chucking them at teams and drivers during the red flag. NASCAR teams and drivers played along and battled back in the Bristol snowball fight. The late Steve Byrnes interviewed Michael Waltrip with an umbrella and said, “When are they going to run out of ammo?”
Others built snowmen in pit boxes until the track dried up. The lights came on and the stars and cars of NASCAR’s second-tier series went back to Bristol short-track racing. Greg Biffle took the lead from Roush Racing teammate Carl Edwards with 41 laps to go and held onto the top spot.
With the laps winding down, Biffle’s lead began to shrink from a hard-charging Kyle Busch. Biffle slipped up in Turn 2 on lap 288 and Busch sailed by the No. 16 Ameriquest Ford and had a hungry Kevin Harvick right behind. Busch held off Harvick’s furious charge for his first Busch win since Charlotte in May 2005.
His brother Kurt won Sunday’s Cup race to complete the Busch-brother sweep and did the infamous snow angel at the start-finish line.
Another snow moment taking place in NASCAR was most memorably the Blizzard of ’93 bringing wintry weather to Atlanta Motor Speedway and forcing to postpone the race until six days later.
This weekend’s forecast at Bristol shows no signs of precipitation and the race is a month later than it was in 2006.
About the Writer
Kyle Magda is a Northeast Correspondent for Race Chaser Online and a co-host of both Motorsports Madness and the Stock Car Steel/SRI Motorsports Show, airing at 7 p.m. ET on Monday and Thursday nights, respectively, on the Performance Motorsports Network. Magda broke into racing in mid-2001 as the sport’s tide was beginning to change towards the current modern-era formula, but still has an affinity for the history of NASCAR’s earlier days.
The 22-year-old is a graduate of Penn State University and can be found traveling to numerous tracks across the country, covering everything from NASCAR and the ARCA Racing Series to the UNOH All-Stars Circuit of Champions and the Super Cup Stock Car Series.
Email Kyle at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow on Twitter: @KyleMagda
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