“Battle at Bristol” coaches to be co-Grand Marshals for Sunday’s race

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No doubt recognizing a good promotional opportunity, Bristol Motor Speedway has named University of Tennessee football head coach Butch Jones and his Virginia Tech counterpart, Frank Beamer, as co-Grand Marshals for this weekend’s Food City 500 at the half-mile oval.

BMS will host a college football game, the ‘Battle at Bristol,’ between Jones’ Volunteers and Beamer’s Hokies on Sept. 10, 2016.

The game could shatter the all-time attendance record for a college football game as almost all of the track’s 160,000 seats will be available for seating.

Both Jones and Beamer have been race dignitaries before in “Thunder Valley.” Jones was a Grand Marshal during last year’s spring race at Bristol, while Beamer was the honorary starter for the same race back in 2005.

But Beamer’s gone one step further, having competed in a pro-am charity race at Bristol in 2009.

“We are very much looking forward to breaking the all-time college football attendance record in September 2016 at Bristol,” Jones said in a statement.

“While our game is still two years away, I had such a great time at last year’s race that I wanted to return to Bristol to witness again one of NASCAR’s most iconic and exciting events.”

“To be the Co-Grand Marshal with [Jones] is a pleasure as we represent the two schools that have a lot of fans in this area,” Beamer said in his own thoughts.

“Bristol Motor Speedway is one of the most exciting sports venues that I know and like to visit, and we look forward to playing Tennessee there in 2016 before the largest crowd to ever watch a football game.”

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.