Opinion: Bristol can become fans choice by continuing to listen

BRISTOL, TN - AUGUST 22: Ryan Blaney, driver of the #19 Cooper Standard Ram, races Johnny Sauter, driver of the #13 Hot Honeys/Curb Records Toyota, and Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Menards/Great Lakes Toyota, during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 22, 2012 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images)

Okay, so I've had time to digest last night's UNOH 200 Truck Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway and I've largely reconsidered some of my initial reactions. In fact, I wrote that I reserved the right to revisit some of my instant reactions and here's the first such evidence of going the other direction.

I was, and still am, largely unimpressed by the changes to Bristol's new track surface. It was ultimately much ado about nothing. Only the smallest percentage of the surface was minced, still providing a second groove for side-by-side racing - the element fans were most displeased with the first go around.

My initial analysis last night still rings true:

There's still a second groove and worse yet, it's the preferred lane for passing. Lap down cars fortunately complicate the process of passing but it's not quite the Bristol of yesteryear.

There's two ways of looking at this.

First, this summer's grinding is the first of a series of changes in the ongoing attempt to improve racing for the fans. Much like a crew chief working on his car, it was always better to be conservative on this first swing. Make the initial changes, gather data, and use feedback to further enhance the facility. That's been Bruton's modus operandi at every facility he owns, including Las Vegas, Charlotte, and Texas Motor Speedway.

My initial assessment of Bristol's changes was to call it window-dressing and a marketing ploy.

While I still think this was a knee-jerk reaction to dwindling fan attendance, Bristol has set the foundation to become the fan's track, from both the perspective of facilities and on-track action. I reiterate the word foundation.

If this is the end of the revamp, you'll see similar racing on this weekend as you've seen since 2007 and fans will continue to debate the value of each argument. However, in an era where the fan has an increasingly smaller say in the direction of NASCAR's decision-making, Bristol and Smith can really stand above their contemporaries in being the voice of the voiceless in what fans want in their racing.

Let the debate continue, and let the conversation serve as the beginning of the new fan era of NASCAR.

So where do you stand on the revised Bristol track surface. If you disliked the changes, what would you have the track revisit? If you prefer the new Bristol, are you open to discussing additional changes? Tell us in the comments section below or on Twitter at @MattWeaverSBN or @NASCARRnR.

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