Just about any fan who pulls up to the famous half mile track in Eastern Tennessee will say the same thing this weekend…
Woo Hoo!!!! It’s Bristol baby!!!
Let’s put it this way : Bristol is the hardest ticket in NASCAR for a reason. It isn't for the good racing, actually; the racing at Bristol is generally second rate. The reason it is so popular is that 43 cars on a high banked short track will ensure only one thing : drivers will run into each other. With the Chase only three races away, tensions will be extremely high as drivers in the Top 10 in points cross their fingers and hope they’re not part of the Demolition Derby. Not everyone’s prayers will be answered; there is a safe bet that someone's Chase hopes will take a huge hit, someone will spin someone out on purpose, and someone that no one expects will finish in the Top 10. Bottom line, Bristol is a crap shoot. Pick whomever you want, because it is impossible to predict.
Bristol Motor Speedway
7:00pm ET on TNT
2005 Pole Sitter: Matt Kenseth
2005 Race Winner: Matt Kenseth
Mike's Keys to the Race
Bristol... just the mention of the name sends tingles down a NASCAR fan's spine. For drivers, it is more like a shooting pain down their spine. Even though the race is run at night, the high banks and fast pace makes Bristol one of the most physically demanding races of the year. Add in the hot August temperatures, and you better look for drivers who are physically fit. It is also important to look for drivers who can use their head. Tempers will flare on Saturday night, and it is up to the driver to keep his emotions in check and get his car to the finish in one piece. The other key is that drivers have to keep the front end of their car in good shape. While aerodynamics don't play a huge factor at Bristol, they can affect a car's handling, not to mention a rubbing fender can quickly cut a tire if drivers aren’t careful.
Cami's Instant Replay
Matt Kenseth earned his first Bristol win in dominating style, leading 415 of 500 laps in the 2005 Sharpie 500. Kenseth, who started from the pole, used the win to continue his charge towards the Chase, and ended the night just 11 points out of the Top 10. In typical Bristol fashion, there were plenty of wrecked cars and hot tempers. The biggest feud of the night was between Dale Jarrett and Ryan Newman. The two made contact midway through the race and Jarrett's retaliatory bump earned him a two lap penalty and ended any plans he had of making the Chase. Jeff Burton, Greg Biffle, Ricky Rudd and Rusty Wallace rounded out the Top 5 on that wild Saturday night.
Crank â€˜Em Up
Kevin Harvick is either very good or very bad at Bristol. Luckily, from a fantasy perspective he is almost always very good. Harvick has raced at Bristol 11 times, and those 11 times have reaped him eight Top 10 finishes. With Harvick's current momentum and the need to redeem himself after last year's circus at Bristol, he should be very strong this week.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is not often given credit for being a good short track driver. Well, time to give credit where it’s due; he is statistically always in the Top 5 in short track points. The No. 8 team is another squad that is riding some momentum coming off of their good weekend at Michigan, and Bristol’s a perfect track to capitalize, as Earnhardt has won this race already, in 2004. This is a good week to put Jr. in your lineup.
Sit â€˜Em Down
Brian Vickers has been running better since he announced his plans to move on from Hendrick Motorsports after the season. Unfortunately for him, Bristol doesn't care about his future plans. Vickers’ average finish at the concrete bullring is just 24.8 in five starts. He only has one Top 15, not enough to offset two finishes of 35th or worse.
One thing Vickers can hang his hat on, though, is that he has a better average finish at Bristol than Kasey Kahne. Kahne does have a Top 10 finish there, but he also has a 40th and 42nd among his five results. Last week was a big boost for the No. 9 gang in their quest for the Top 10; look for them to cool their jets on Saturday night.
Roll The Dice
While Ken Schrader doesn't have a great finishing average at Bristol, he does drive well at the track. Add to that he is driving for the Wood Brothers and has Michael “Fatback” McSwain on the box, and Schrader should be primed for a strong finish this weekend.
Crank â€˜Em Up
Fresh off his win at Michigan, Matt Kenseth heads to Bristol, a track where he dominated last year. While that win marked his first trip to Victory Lane there, it’s not like he hadn’t run well at the track before. In the last nine starts at the Speedway, he has eight Top 10s, including six Top 5 finishes. With the momentum of the win fresh in his mind, look for another strong finish for Kenseth this weekend.
Since hitting the Cup scene in 2001, Kurt Busch has pretty well owned Bristol. In 11 races, he has five wins, including a run of three straight. His Chase hopes may be dashed after Michigan, but the team’s desire to win hasn't been. There are no sure things in racing, but a good finish for the Miller Lite crew this Saturday night is close.
Sit â€˜Em Down
With only one Top 10 finish since 2001 at Bristol, Mark Martin might be someone to avoid using this week. He did post a Top 5 at Michigan and needs a good run to solidify his Chase position; but looking at his stats, Bristol isn't a place he's likely to get it. His 17.3 average finish, along with seven finishes outside the Top 20 in this last 17 starts here don't make him a very appealing pick.
Another Roush driver I'd shy away from this week is Carl Edwards. Granted, he did finish 10th at this track in the spring, but his previous results at Bristol show that is the exception, not the norm. His first three Bristol finishes were 33rd, 26th and 24th, giving him an average finish of 21.8. Plus, given his recent tendency to retaliate, I wouldn't be surprised to see Edwards in a pretty well banged up race car by the end of this Saturday night.
Roll The Dice
Looking to take a ride on the wild side? Then think about adding Sterling Marlin to your lineup. He's one of only seven drivers with an average finish under 14.0 at Bristol since 1998, and has only three finishes outside the Top 20 in the last 17 races. Maybe it's something about being in his home state; whatever the reason, Marlin fares pretty well in front of the home crowd.
Cami: Good pick with Kenseth last week. Too bad you sat Gordon, or you could have really made up some ground.
Mike: Yeah, too bad Burton’s engine crapped out. I think he was going to have a good day.
Cami: That was tough. I hate to admit I kinda giggled when that happened. I thought he was going to have a good day, too, and maybe finally win one.
Mike: Yep. Oh well. Just my jinx paying off again.
Cami: You’re not the only one. Edwards killed me. But at least Sadler came through for me; that has to be the pick of the year so far.
Mike: Yeah, that pit call at the end was good. Wait until Schrader gets a Top 5 this week, though, and you’ll be blown out of the water.
Cami: Yeah, that would be a good upset, too. But not like a guy the first time out in a new ride.
Mike: I’m surprised neither of us picked Stewart anywhere this week. I was afraid of the revenge factor from all of his enemies.
Cami: I kinda had that hunch, too. He might be a bit too aggressive. That’s why I said to sit Carl. Chances are good he’ll get paid back, or be on the other end of it.
Mike: I hope you are right with Sterling. He needs a good run. He and Nemechek have both been snakebitten this year.
Cami: I figured I might be on a roll with my roll the dice picks. Plus he does have a good average here.
Mike: I guess we’ll see how it pans out.
|Crank Em Up||Sit Em Down||Roll the Dice|
|Mike||Kenseth- 1st||J. Gordon- 2nd||Earnhardt- 6th|
|Burton- 42nd||J. McMurray- 17th|
|Cami||Edwards- 22nd||R. Gordon- 12th||Sadler- 10th|
|Biffle- 7th||Earnhardt- 6th|
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