BRISTOL, Tenn. (AP) — With a two-handed toss of his helmet, Tony Stewart brought back everything that had been missing at Bristol Motor Speedway.
It was the rock 'em, sock 'em style of racing that made the Tennessee bullring the toughest ticket in NASCAR, and fans fill the place for 55 consecutive races hoping to see bumping and banging on the track and the off-track drama it created.
Progressive banking added in 2007 diluted the action, and fans turned their backs on Bristol in droves. Yet another disappointing crowd in March was the final straw for track owner Bruton Smith, who ordered changes to the track surface in the hopes the action would pick up and the fans would return.
He got exactly what he wanted Saturday night, even if his idea didn't go exactly according to plan.