The NASCAR Sprint Cup heads to Bristol for some short track excitement. Bumpers will fly, side panels will be pushed in and tempers will flare at Thunder Valley in the Food City 500.
The edge that Kevin Harvick has had all season is somewhat shortened at Bristol. Harvick is favored to win this week due to finishing first or second in six of seven starts thus far to begin the Sprint Cup season.
However, Bristol Motor Speedway will have tough competition. He won for the time in Bristol in 2005, but had not had a finish in the top five since 2008, which includes 12 races.
The high-bank, half-mile layout at Bristol should have three or four solid candidates to win the race. While Harvick’s chances will remain high, he is not the intimidating factor on this track as he would be on a track that is down force.
He was not the winner in Texas a week ago, but still managed second place. Harvick has led for 766 of the 2,150 total laps run this season in seven starts, which shows how dominant he has been.
Last season both winners at Bristol Carl Edwards as well Joey Logano were surprises. In 2013, Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne took the checkered flags and in 2012 Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski, which shows a diverse number of drivers being success.
The drivers can run two wide comfortably on the track and passing takes place on both grooves inside and outside, which takes some excitement away from the Bristol from before when everyone would fight to have the inside line.
Despite cosmetic changes, old-fashioned short track racing on a half-mile fast track remains at Bristol.
This is the Sprint Cup season’s eighth race but data from previous races is hard to use at this one since Bristol is such a unique track. Not even the Martinsville half-mile flat layout is comparable to this one.
The one track that could possibly be similar but still not that much would be the Dover one mile, but there will not be any racing up there until late in May.
Racers that will have the best chance of finishing first this week besides Harvick are Keselowski, Kenseth, Logano, Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch.