The grid is set, and the excitement is building in Bristol, Tenn. The fourth race of the NASCAR season is upon us, and there's a chance it will be one of the most memorable races of the year.
Officially, the event is called the Food City 500, but many hardcore fans refer to the event as NASCAR at Bristol.
The makeup of the Bristol Motor Speedway creates great scenarios for duels. The stadium seating makes the venue one of the best to watch a NASCAR event.
Here's the information needed to watch the fast-paced action.
Where: Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tenn.
When: Sunday, March 16 at 1 p.m. ET
Live Steam: Fox Sports Go
Radio: Performance Racing Network
Denny with the Pole
Denny Hamlin captured the pole position and is in position to make some noise. Per Jim Utter of The Charlotte Observer, Hamlin is excited about his chances of capturing a win, but he has the pole position in the proper perspective:
The qualifying stuff kind of caught us a little off guard. We didn’t make but one mock run at the very end of practice because we were working on race stuff so much. Obviously, this is a great start to the weekend at a track where we believe it’s a great opportunity for us to get a win and put ourselves in a Chase spot.
Other Drivers to Watch
After winning the Daytona 500 and finishing in second place in both The Profit of CNBC 500 and Kobalt 400, Earnhardt Jr. is having perhaps the best start of racing career. He tops the Sprint Cup standings currently and is looking to stay there.
He's a serious threat to win every race he enters, and the Food City 500 is no exception.
How does Earnhardt Jr. explain his recent run of success? He told Mike Hembree of USA Today this:
Things happen sometimes for you and sometimes against you, and we've just been getting the luck here lately. Hopefully, we can keep it going. This place here isn't going to hand you any favors or give you an inch. So you're going to have to work hard. … Whatever you take out of here, you're going to have to earn it.
Earnhardt Jr. can be modest and cautious all he wants. The results tell the story. He's a dangerous man right now, and his opponents best be on guard.
The defending Sprint Cup champion hasn't finished lower than sixth in a race this season. Somehow it feels as if he's set to dominate a race some time very soon.
Previous success at Bristol means he might be confident and comfortable enough on the track to make this the spot for his first win of the season. He won on this track back in 2010.
Per Auto Racing Daily, Johnson has been one of the best at Bristol. Check out these statistics:
"Johnson has the Cup Series’ fifth-best average running position (13.163) during the last 18 races at Bristol, according to NASCAR’s loop data statistics. During that same timeframe, Johnson has led 761 laps around the half-mile track and scored an average finish of 16.3."
Johnson is currently third in the Sprint Cup standings, but the new format puts an even stronger emphasis on winning races. It's too early to feel panicked, but don't be surprised to see Johnson go for it if he sees an opportunity to grab a victory, and claim a spot in the chase.