The jokes and observations began flying in the Bristol Motor Speedway media center not long after Kurt Busch won Saturday night’s Cup race.
It had been how long since Busch visited Victory Lane at the half-mile track?
Some media members had covered that race. Others – specifically this writer – had been *checks notes* a freshman in high school when Busch won the Food City 500 on March 26, 2006.
Oh, that long.
Twelve years have passed between Busch’s Bristol wins, the latest bringing him six career wins in “Thunder Valley.”
That fifth win, in Team Penske’s No. 2 Dodge, came in a very different time in NASCAR.
For one, that was two versions of Bristol ago. A year after his win, the track added progressive banking in the turns. That was then retrofitted in 2012, which resulted in the top groove often being the preferred lane.
“This track has been kicking my butt since they redid the concrete, reground the outside lane, then have been throwing the traction compound on the bottom lane,” Busch said. “It’s great to win on the old one and the new one. It’s been a while.”
What else was going on in NASCAR when Busch claimed his fifth Bristol win? Get ready to feel the kind of nostalgia that will make you feel old in all the wrong ways.
– Even if you don’t remember Busch’s win in 2006, you might remember what happened on pit road after it. Jeff Gordon showed off his temper for the first time, when he shoved Matt Kenseth after Kenseth spun him with two laps to go.
– Jimmie Johnson hadn’t even claimed his first of a record-tying seven Cup championships. He would go on to do so that year, beginning his stretch of five titles in a row.
– In the field for the Bristol race were three rookies by the name of Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin and Clint Bowyer.
– Also in the field: Sterling Marlin, Terry Labonte, Mark Martin, Jeremy Mayfield and Kyle Petty.
– Ken Schrader was driving the No. 21 Ford for Wood Brothers Racing.
– Nextel was the title sponsor for the Cup Series and would be through 2007. Sprint took over in 2008.
– The much maligned Car of Tomorrow was exactly a year away. It would make its part-time debut in the Food City 500, and race winner Kyle Busch (his first of seven wins at Bristol) did not like it.
– Chase Elliott, Cup’s most recent first-time winner, was 9-years-old.
This is what was hot in the world of pop culture on March 26, 2008.
The No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 was “So Sick” by Ne-Yo, an artist I don’t remember and a song title I couldn’t have told you. But I definitely remember hearing this on the radio.
If that doesn’t jolt your memory of the time, “You’re Beautiful” by James Blunt was the previous No. 1 song for a week and two weeks later, Daniel Powter’s “Bad Day” would start a five-week run as at the top before being the year-end No. 1 song.
2006 was a bad year for music.
– The No. 1 movie at the box office that weekend was Denzel Washington’s “Inside Man.” It made $28.9 million and beat out Natalie Portman’s “V for for Vendetta” and the video game horror film “Stay Alive.”
The top book on the New York Times’ bestseller list was “The 5th Horseman” James Patterson and Maxine Paetro. The following week, “The Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown would start its second, two-week stretch at the No. 1 book.