NASCAR Sprint Cup and Xfinity Series take on the Half-Mile at Bristol

This weekend, the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Xfinity Series teams will take on the high-banked half-mile of Bristol Motor Speedway for a showdown at “The Last Great Colosseum.”

The Food City 500 will take place Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. on FOX, and the Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 will take place on Saturday afternoon at 2:30 p.m.

In the Xfinity Series, the Dash 4 Cash initiative will make its first appearance of the season at Bristol, with the other three occurring at Richmond, Dover, and Indianapolis. The Dash 4 Cash is kind of confusing to understand, but here are the basics.

The field will qualify in knockout style, like normal. However, there will be two heat races to determine the actual starting field. Odd drivers (first, third, fifth, etc.) will race in heat No. 1, and even drivers (second, fourth, sixth, etc.) will start in heat No. 2. The winner of heat No. 1 will start the main event first, and the winner of heat No. 2 will start the main event second. Second place in heat No. 1 starts third, and second place in heat No. 2 starts fourth. The rest of the field follows suit. Both heats are 50 laps, with the main event being 200 laps.

Only Xfinity Series regulars are eligible for the Dash 4 Cash bonus,which is $100,000. So the Kyle Busch’s or Kevin Harvick’s or Joey Logano’s of the world are not eligible for this initiative.

Watch this video for a short, and probably better, explanation of the whole Dash 4 Cash initiative. One more thing you need to know is that if a car is damaged in the heat race, the team can only repair it during their heat race. As soon as it ends, the repairs must stop. This means that, theoretically, if a driver were to crash in their heat race, and they’re unable to fix damage, they would have to participate in the main event with that damage.

Carl Edwards, who ran a lap of 14.991 seconds, will start on the pole for Sunday’s race at “Thunder Valley”, the second straight pole position won by Edwards and the No. 19 team. His Joe Gibbs Racing teammates, Matt Kenseth (second), Denny Hamlin (fourth) and Kyle Busch (fifth) are all inside the top five starting positions, with Logano grabbing the third starting spot.

Edwards has two wins at Bristol (2008 and 2011) – both wins came when he started from the pole.

That’s pretty cool to run a less than 15-second lap. It’s a real testament to my guys and everybody on this team has been working so hard. You see it each week. The JGR Toyotas are up front, and these cars are really nice to drive. Crew Chief Dave Rogers and everybody did a really nice job,” Edwards said to FOX after winning another pole.

Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Martin Truex Jr., AJ Allmendinger, and Trevor Bayne round out the top ten starting spots for the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Notable starting positions include Brad Keselowski (12th), Chase Elliott (19th), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (20th), Kurt Busch (26th) and Danica Patrick (33rd).

Although he is starting in 32nd, one spot ahead of his girlfriend, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. might be a dark-horse for this weekend. Believe it or not, he has the best average finish of all active drivers at BMS (11.2). Along with the No. 17, the No. 47 of Allmendinger could be a sleeper. Coming off his best finish of the season two weeks ago at Martinsville, another short track could play into Allmendinger’s hands. Be on the lookout for those drivers.

But as much as we would love to see an underdog in victory lane, we all know that most likely won’t happen. Kyle Busch, coming off two straight NSCS wins and weekend sweeps, is the overwhelming favorite for the weekend, along with his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates.

But someone who is flying under the radar is his brother, Kurt Busch. The 2004 champion loves Bristol, as he has collected five career wins, eight top fives and 15 top 10’s. His 13.3 average running position and 92.7 driver rating both rank fifth among active drivers in the Cup Series.

I am picking him to win this weekend. Yes, his qualifying position isn’t a good start to the weekend. But going with a JGR driver is just so mainstream. So like Robert Frost said, why not take the road less traveled, and pick a different driver? Why not – that’s what I’m doing.

It’ll be interesting to see how the heat races pan out, as well as the new low downforce package at a high-speed short-track. Enjoy the races this weekend, everybody!