NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES – NEWS & NOTES – Bristol Motor Speedway
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Next Race: Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes
The Place: Bristol Motor Speedway
The Date: Sunday, April 19
The Time: 1 p.m. (ET)
TV: FOX, 12:30 p.m. (ET)
Radio: PRN, Sirius XM Ch. 90
Distance: 266.5 miles (500 laps)
NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
Perfect 10: Three Drivers Look To Continue Top-10 Streaks At Bristol
No driver has opened a season with seven consecutive top 10s since Jimmie Johnson in 2005.
Three different drivers – Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr. – have each opened the year with seven straight top-10 finishes. Unsurprisingly, they rank 1-3 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver points standings.
The wheelmen put their streaks on the line in Sunday’s Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes at Bristol Motor Speedway (1 p.m. ET on FOX).
Logano won the last race at BMS in the fall, while Harvick hasn’t had a top-10 showing there since 2011 – seven races ago. Truex has only produced two top-10 finishes in 18 Bristol starts, a runner-up result in fall 2011 and a third-place showing in spring 2012.
A Giant Awakens: Johnson Shows Sprint Cup Series Title Chase Might Be Heavyweight Clash
Move over Mayweather and Pacquiao, a heavyweight bout looks likely to take place in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
With all the talk about the dominance of defending NSCS champion Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano’s rise to stardom, six-time NSCS champion Jimmie Johnson has made it clear that anyone who wants a NSCS title will have to go through him. Johnson led a race-high 128 laps and out-dueled Harvick on the closing circuits to capture his second win of the season in Sunday’s Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
It’s still early in the season, but at the moment, all indications point to the last three series champions – Harvick (2014), Johnson (2013) and Keselowski (2012) – being in the mix for this year’s crown.
Johnson will attempt to continue his momentum this Sunday on one of his “average” tracks – Bristol Motor Speedway. The No. 48 Chevrolet driver has one win, eight top fives, 14 top 10s, one pole and a 91.9 driver rating at BMS.
Harvick Begins New Top-Two Run
One race after snapping his nine-event streak of top-two finishes with a “so-so” eighth-place finish at Martinsville, Kevin Harvick started a new one with a second-place showing at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday night.
Despite 10 straight top-10 finishes dating back to 2014, track president Eddie Gossage will still get to cajole Harvick about being winless at his venue.
The No. 4 Chevrolet driver has a commanding 26-point lead over Joey Logano in the standings and ranks first or tied for first in numerous categories, including wins (2), top fives (6), top 10s (7), average finish (2.6) and average running position (3.790). Additionally, Harvick’s 766 laps led and 413 fastest laps more than double the next-highest drivers’ outputs (Logano, 324 laps led; Jimmy Johnson 145 fastest laps). Also, his series-high 132.8 driver rating is almost 20 points higher than second-place Logano’s 114.7 driver rating.
Harvick heads to Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend where he has only won in spring of 2005.
Back(flip) To Bristol: Edwards Attempts High-Banked Repeat
Defending Bristol Motor Speedway spring race winner Carl Edwards will go for his fourth victory at the half-mile track in Sunday’s Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes. Fresh off his first top-10 finish of the year (10th) at Texas, it looks like the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing driver is starting to gel with his new team and championship-winning crew chief Darian Grubb. Two races ago at Martinsville, Edwards ran up front the majority of the race, even leading 13 laps before a late spin caused him to finish 17th.
In 21 career starts at Bristol, Edwards claims three wins (14.3%), five top fives (23.8%), nine top 10s (42.9%) and two Coors Light Pole Awards.
Similar to Texas Motor Speedway last week where there had been nine different winners in the past nine spring races, Bristol Motor Speedway has had six different winners in its last six races.
Expect another party of parity in Sunday’s Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes.
The last driver to log consecutive victories at Bristol was Brad Keselowski (fall 2011, spring 2012).
Since Keselowski’s 2012 victory, Bristol races have been won by Denny Hamlin (fall 2012), Kasey Kahne (spring 2013), Matt Kenseth (fall 2013), Carl Edwards (spring 2014) and Joey Logano (fall 2014).
Thirteen active drivers have won at Bristol: Kurt Busch (5), Kyle Busch (5), Jeff Gordon (5), Edwards (3), Kenseth (3), Keselowski (2), Earnhardt Jr. (1), Denny Hamlin (1), Jimmie Johnson (1), Kevin Harvick (1), Kahne (1), Logano (1), Tony Stewart (1).
Roush Attempts To Turn Back The Clock At Bristol
Roush Fenway Racing has struggled so far this year. In 21 total races, its three-driver stable has recorded just one top 10 – Greg Biffle’s 10th-place finish at the Daytona 500.
Bristol Motor Speedway could provide a much needed shot in the arm for RFR, which ranks tied for the second-most victories in track history (11). None of its current drivers have won at Bristol, but Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has had strong finishes at the half-mile track, including a career-best runner-up showing in last year’s spring race and a sixth-place effort in the fall. RFR veteran Greg Biffle claims the fifth-best active driver rating at BMS (93.5) in addition to the sixth-best average running position (13.0). Trevor Bayne produced a 34th-place finish in his lone Bristol start in 2011 with Wood Brothers Racing.
RFR swept the top-two positions at BMS last spring with former driver Carl Edwards and Stenhouse.
Can Gordon Reclaim Bristol Magic?
A quick glance at the Bristol Motor Speedway record books shows that Jeff Gordon is tied for the wins lead among active drivers with five first-place finishes.
He must be a favorite to win this weekend’s race at Thunder Valley then, right?
A closer look at the numbers shows Gordon has not won at BMS since fall 2002 – almost 13 years ago when he won the Sharpie 500 from the pole. He has had three third-place finishes since
Currently 13th in the series standings, quietly riding a streak of four consecutive top 10s, Gordon will attempt to further ascend NASCAR’s leaderboard this weekend on the track where he also has 16 top fives (36.4%), 24 top 10s (54.5%) and the series’ third-best driver rating (99.9).
McLovin’ It: Big McMurray off to whopper of a start
No. 1 McDonald’s Chevrolet driver Jamie McMurray’s start hasn’t been “Superbad” as the kids would say, but Chip Ganassi has to be McLovin’ his driver’s strong performance to open up the season.
McMurray sits 11th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings following his sixth-place showing at Texas this weekend and a finish of 10th at Martinsville. McMurray’s best result this year was a runner-up finish at Phoenix to track-legend Kevin Harvick. Known for his ability to win big races, the 38-year-old is still searching for his first Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup berth.
Furious 7: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season off to action-packed start
The first seven races of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season have been so fast and so furious even Vin Diesel would be jealous.
Since NASCAR began tracking green flag passes in 2005, drivers have produced the most green flag passes (29,383) and fourth-most green flag passes for the lead (205) through the first seven races. The season has seen five different race-winners, including Brad Keselowski who led a single lap to take the checkered flag at Auto Club.
History Lesson: Big Day At Bristol
Where were you the day that man first stepped foot on the moon?
If you were Richard Petty, you were helping rival David Pearson drive the No. 17 Ford to victory lane at Bristol Motor Speedway (then called Bristol International Speedway.)
The 1969 Volunteer 500 was run on July 20, just hours before “one small step” captivated mankind. It was the first Bristol race on the new, high-banked configuration put in by track owner Larry Carrier, who wanted the fastest half-mile track in the world.
Cale Yarborough started on the pole, shattering the qualifying record by nearly 15 miles per hour. Like most of his competitors though, Yarborough’s race didn’t last long. An early nine-car wreck, coupled with multiple engine issues caused by the mid-summer heat, sidelined two-thirds of the field before they reached the midpoint of the race.
Petty and Yarborough were among the early race spectators, along with fellow NASCAR Hall of Famers Bobby Allison and Buddy Baker. Petty’s time outside the car didn’t last long, however. Pearson was suffering from the flu, and in need of a relief driver.
“I saw Richard was out of the race, so I decided to grab him before someone else did,” said Pearson. “Richard did a fine job for me.”
Petty spent 155 laps in the Holman-Moody Ford and led the field for approximately half of them. Pearson got back in the car on Lap 256, and eventually cruised to a three-lap victory over Bobby Isaac (who himself needed mid-race relief in the form of Bobby Allison.)
In a twist of irony, Petty’s help gave Pearson his 55th career victory, breaking the tie for second on the all-time wins list with Richard’s father, Lee Petty.
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