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Matt McLaughlin’s Driver Handicaps: 2007 Bristol Night Race Edition

Jeff Gordon – Gordon has won five Cup races at Bristol, but only one of those wins was in the August Night Race. Still, with 18 top-10 finishes in 29 starts here, Gordon figures to be a factor Saturday night.

Denny Hamlin – Hamlin finished sixth in this race last year. This spring, he led 177 laps and seemed to be coasting to an easy win when his car suffered unforeseen mechanical problems. As a result, it would seem as if young Mr. Hamlin has some unfinished business left in the Thunder Valley.

Matt Kenseth – Kenseth has won the last two Bristol night races, snagging top-10 finishes in nine of the last 11 Cup races run here.

Tony Stewart – Stewart won here in 2001, but oddly enough, he has just two top-10 finishes in the 11 Cup races run here since then.

Carl Edwards – Edwards struggled in his first few Cup attempts at Bristol, but did post a pair of top-10 results here last year. Also, he won the Bristol Busch Series race this spring.

Jimmie Johnson – Johnson’s results at Bristol have been surprisingly lackluster. He has just two top-five finishes and an average finish of 16th here after 11 Cup starts.

Jeff Burton – Burton finished second here this spring and probably could have won if he’d laid a bumper to the No. 5 car. It was Burton’s third runner-up result in Thunder Valley.

NEFF: FANTASY PICKS ‘N’ PANS AFTER BRISTOL

Kyle Busch – Busch won here this spring and finished second in this race last year. Racing at Bristol is a full-contact sport, and that suits Busch’s style just fine.

Clint Bowyer – Bowyer struggled here last year, but managed an eighth-place result at Bristol this spring. Jack Daniel’s is based in Tennessee, so that gives him extra incentive to run well here.

Kevin Harvick – Harvick won here in the spring of 2005 and has three Bristol runner-up finishes throughout his Cup career. He’s also won three Busch Series events here.

Martin Truex Jr. – Bristol has been Truex’s Waterloo. He’s averaging a 31st-place finish after three Cup starts at the track.

Kurt Busch – The wins weren’t always popular, but Busch has, in fact, won five Cup races at Bristol – with three of them coming consecutively, in 2003 and 2004.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Junior won the Night Race here in 2004, and there’s probably folks who haven’t quit partying since. In the last eight Cup races at Bristol, Junior hasn’t finished worse than 11th.

Ryan Newman – Newman has been hot and cold at Bristol. He has five top-10 finishes, but he also holds an equal number of finishes of 30th or worse in 11 Cup starts at the track.

Greg Biffle – Biffle is averaging a 10th-place finish in nine Cup starts at Bristol.

Casey Mears – Mears posted his first top-10 result in nine starts here this spring. Never a short-track aficionado, Mears’s average finishing position in those nine races is still 28th.

Jamie McMurray – McMurray has one top five and a total of four top-10 finishes in nine starts here, but his average finish of 17th place isn’t ready for prime time.

Bobby Labonte – Labonte has finished outside the top 20 in four of the last five Bristol Cup races. Those of you that can recall Labonte’s Busch Series win here in 1991 should remember to take your Centrum Silver before retiring tonight.

Juan Pablo Montoya – Montoya couldn’t get his arms around neither Bristol nor the Car of Horror here this spring. He finished 32nd.

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