Food City 500 Fantasy NASCAR Preview

by C.J. Radune on March 13, 2008 @ 08:40:45 PDT

 


Bristol Motor Speedway

Bristol Motor Speedway is one of the most exciting tracks on the NASCAR circuit. It is one of the shortest tracks and steepest banked tracks that NASCAR runs on. The banking creates greater speeds and a whole lot of contact. The track was repaved in 2007, adding two more grooves to the track that was known for just having a single lane. The key to winning on this track is staying out of trouble, and the best way to do that is to stay at the front of the field, making qualifying very important.

Location: Bristol, Tenn.

Length: 0.53 miles

Shape: Oval

Banking: 36 degrees

Leading the Pack

Kyle Busch | No. 18 Pedigree Dog Food Toyota | Joe Gibbs Racing

Busch nabbed Toyota's first victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup last weekend in the Kobalt Tools 500. The victory was also his first for Joe Gibbs Racing, and after leading 329 laps so far in 2008, it is about time he led the final lap. Busch won last year's spring race at Bristol, which was the first race using the Car of Tomorrow. In six starts at Bristol, Busch has one win, two top-fives and four top-10s. Busch is on a roll and is a solid option at Bristol, where he's had success in the past.

Carl Edwards | No. 99 Office Max Ford | Roush Fenway Racing

Despite looking as though he would win his third race in a row, Edwards finished 42nd in the Kobalt Tools 500. He led 33 laps before his Ford engine gave up. The Food City 500 may be a race where Edwards turns last week's performance around. He won the Sharpie 500 in August of 2007. Edwards should be strong at Bristol, and if he can stay out of trouble, he should be near the front when the checkered flag falls.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. | No. 88 AMP/National Guard Chevrolet | Hendrick Motorsports

Earnhardt comes into the Food City 500 on the back of two straight top-five finishes. In the early portions of the Kobalt Tools 500, it looked like Earnhardt would run away with the race but handling issues slowed him down through the middle section. He has two top-fives and one top-10 in his last three trips to Bristol. Earnhardt is enjoying one of his best starts to a season this year and has every opportunity to finish in the top 10 at Bristol this Sunday.

Matt Kenseth | No. 17 Dish Network Ford | Roush Fenway Racing

Kenseth was a pre-race favorite to win last weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He ended up not leading any laps but came away with a top-10 finish after falling a lap behind in the early running. Kenseth has been solid at Bristol in four of his last five races. During that time, he has an average finish of fourth while recording two wins in five starts. Roush drivers have been stout competitors at every track in 2008, and Kenseth should be able to turn his recent performances at Bristol this weekend.

Tony Stewart | No. 20 Home Depot Toyota | Joe Gibbs Racing

A second-place finish from Stewart put the cherry on top of Toyota's first win in the Sprint Cup Series. While Goodyear may not be too pleased with Stewart's post-race comments, regarding the "pathetic race tire" the company supplied, Toyota has to be pleased with his and teammate Kyle Busch's performances. Stewart had one top five in two visits to the Bristol Motor Speedway in 2007. If he can keep his aggression in check and his car relatively undamaged, Stewart should be in the top 10, if not the top five.

Drivers to Keep an Eye On

Jeff Gordon | No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet | Hendrick Motorsports

For every race Gordon has not dropped out of in 2008, he has finished in the top five. Last week's fifth-place finish should have been higher after starting from the pole, but it was nothing to be disappointed with. He has two top-five finishes in his last three races at Bristol and has led a lap in each of his last seven races there. Gordon will be a driver to watch with interest as he might tally his first win of '08.

Greg Biffle | No 16 Jackson Hewitt Ford | Roush Fenway Racing

Like Dale Earnhardt Jr., Biffle comes to Bristol with two straight top-five finishes under his belt. He's been one of the quieter Roushkateers this season, but he appears to be reaching the form he showed in 2005 when he finished second in the season point totals. Biffle finished fifth and 10th in his two starts at Bristol in 2007; he should be in line for another top-10 this weekend.

Kevin Harvick | No. 29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet | Richard Childress Racing

Harvick has quietly snuck into third place in the Sprint Cup standings after four races. Three top-10 finishes and one top-five have made Harvick one of the most consistent drivers on the circuit thus far. He had another top-10 in last weekend's Kobalt Tools 500 and should carry his momentum to a track where he usually finishes very well. He finished fourth and 16th, respectively, in last year's two starts at Bristol while his aggressive nature lends itself well to the rough-and-tumble half-mile track.

Kurt Busch | No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge | Penske Racing

Busch sits in the top 10 of the season points after the first four races. His best finish so far was second in the Daytona 500, and he finished 11th in the Kobalt Tools 500 last weekend. Busch is a master of the Bristol Motor Speedway; he has won five of his 14 starts at the track. His average finish at the track is 14.5, which is affected by two DNFs. His career success at Bristol makes Busch a driver to watch this weekend.

Jeff Burton | No. 31 AT&T Mobility Chevrolet | Richard Childress Racing

Childress' quiet but effective start to the season is also evidenced in Burton, who is fifth in the Sprint Cup points. He has finished the last two races with a top-five and a top-10. In his last three starts at Bristol, Burton has two top-10s, which includes a second-place finish in last years Food City 500. Burton has been quiet but effective this season. He runs well at Bristol and could be expected to finish the Food City 500 in the top 10.

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About C.J. Radune

Radune has been a KFFL contributor since January 2008.

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