NASCAR Weekend Preview — Bristol

NASCAR+Weekend+Preview+--+Bristol

Bristol Motor Speedway has been on the NASCAR circuit almost since the sport’s inception in the late 1940’s.  But besides a repave, the drivers and how the cars have evolved, not much has changed.  The tempers flare, the bumpers are used and “rubbin’ is racin’” has never been more literal than when you come to Bristol.

Today’s Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes and Stand Up to Cancer will be 500 laps around the world-famous half-mile, also known as “The Last Great Coliseum”.

The race will go green a little after 1:15 pm (ET) with Matt Kenseth leading the field to the green flag.  He won his first Coors Light pole of the 2015 season with a lap of 128.632 MPH (14.917 seconds) in his No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.

“We need to be able to go out and win races,” Kenseth said.  “Last year and so far this year haven’t been particularly great for JGR.  I think we’ve had two wins that weren’t plate races in the last year and a half as a company.”

His teammates, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin and David Ragan, will start third, fifth and 11th respectively.

Brad Keselowski will start second, missing Kenseth’s pole winning run by .022 seconds.  His Team Penske teammate, Joey Logano, will start sixth after winning the Xfinity Series race yesterday afternoon in dominating fashion.  Logano led all 300 laps from start to finish in the victory.

“I’ve never led from start to finish in a race,” Logano said.  “Gosh, that’s amazing.  You’re waiting for something to go wrong.  It’s such a fast car, and with late cautions and all that stuff, you’re like ‘Alright, where am I going to blow this thing?’”

But Logano didn’t, and he should be a contender all afternoon.

Kevin Harvick will start fourth, looking to keep his streak of top tens to start the season dating back to last season alive.  His SHR teammates (Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart and Danica Patrick) will start seventh, 21st and 26th respectively.  Busch’s best track is Bristol, as he got his first win and many more at the track throughout his career.  Will this be the weekend Busch gets back into victory lane?  It wouldn’t surprise me.

As for Kurt’s younger brother, Kyle Busch, he addressed the media, talking about his broken leg and foot and when he expects to return to racing.  The big takeaway was that he is ahead of schedule with his rehab and doctors still have not given him a timetable for a return.  Although he mentioned that a return to the site of the crash, Daytona, in July is a strong possibility, he wouldn’t say to count on that 100 percent, because, as we know, anything can happen.  As of now, David Ragan will continue to pilot the No. 18 M&M’s Camry for JGR, who has been somewhat dominant on short tracks lately.

Some other notable qualifying positions for the race include Clint Bowyer (37th), Greg Biffle (33rd), Trevor Bayne (31st), Jimmie Johnson (29th), Jeff Gordon (23rd) and Martin Truex Jr. (17th).

Bristol has always been known as the track for aggression.  Whether it’s bumping and banging, payback, fights or throwing helmets (Tony Stewart, looking at you), Bristol usually never disappoints.  Go all the way back to 2002 when Harvick got mad at Greg Biffle and grabbed him by the neck after an Xfinity Series race.  Or go back as recent as two years ago, when Stewart threw his helmet at Kenseth and Patrick sassily pointed at Regan Smith; or even last year when Hamlin threw his HANS device at Harvick after they tangled racing for the lead.  Whether it’s Dale Earnhardt or it’s Danica Patrick, Bristol is always a good time.

You can catch the race with coverage on Fox Sports 1 beginning around 11:00 am and coverage of the race starting at 1:00 pm. Now it’s the time you’ve all been waiting for: the prediction.

I think Carl Edwards gets his first win with Joe Gibbs Racing and another one at Bristol Motor Speedway.  He got his first top ten last season, and the sky’s the limit with a driver of that talent and a team of that stature.