OBSERVATIONS: UNOH 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway

In previous years, the UNOH 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway was a must-see attraction for fans. Now, though, it seems that the half-mile has lost it’s sparkle. In all honesty, Thursday night’s race was just average.

The first two stages of the event left you looking for some action, waiting to see battles for position, but instead stuck sitting on the edge of your seat hoping the second groove came in so it would happen. All in the process, you had John Hunter Nemechek cruising away from the field which does nothing to add to the event.

The second half of the race, though, gave you something to chomp on when the leaders got hung up in lap traffic, having to dodge left and right at times to figure out the best way through. Combine with Nemechek’s late motor issues, along with a late-charge from Stewart Frisen, and this event will probably stick around in your memory longer than it should’ve based on the beginning.

While you may question where Bristol’s magic was lost – and how much you want to scream about the reconfiguration that took place a couple years ago still, there’s is no denying Johnny Sauter‘s form right now. He drove a flawless race, and took advantage of Nemechek’s slip-up at the right time. Combined with four victories before this week, and he has to be entering the playoffs as the favorite. If he can survive the wild car first round – which he admits being afraid about, then it may be GMS Racing celebrating at year-end once again.

Nemechek should also snag a win before this year is over, too. This marks the second time this season a late-race mechanical failure has lost him the event. Anybody recall Chicagoland Speedway when he dominated until the last lap and lost to Brett Moffitt?

Frisen is also knocking on the door of that win, almost kicking it open as he was chasing Sauter down at the end and maybe five more laps you would’vs seen a different winner. It’s been a common sight as he has finished second three times this year now.

Shout-out to Todd Gilliland for the late charge through the field to finish fifth after a mid-race spin. Just imagine if he hadn’t made that mistake. We may have seen his first career win, and watched Matt Crafton miss the playoffs. 

After left with the feeling of being let down, there’s hope going into the first round of the playoffs. Canadian Tire Motorsports Park has become the home of dramatics since joining the schedule, Las Vegas Motor Speedway produced a memorable event in the spring, and Talladega Superspeedway is always unpredictable. 



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By Ashley McCubbin

Currently the Executive Editor for Popular Speed, Ashley McCubbin also runs Short Track Musings, while handling media relations for OSCAAR. Currently living in Bradford, Ontario, she spends her weekend at the local short tracks in the area taking photos.