“It’s Bristol Baby!”
Excitement is in the air as the Sprint Cup Series returns from the off weekend for what’s hoped to be 500 laps of beating-a-banging. After their crash heard around the world in Atlanta, Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski will be back on track for both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup races with many eyes on them.
If the two tangle again it could knock Keselowski out of the top-35 in owner’s points.
Kurt Busch is a driver that isn’t worried about points. After winning the spring Atlanta race for the second year in a row, Busch heads into Bristol where he’s won five times, including his first career win back in 2002. In order to capture win number six, he’ll have to hold off his younger brother, Kyle.
The Shrub swept the 2009 races at Bristol and is sure to be a factor come Sunday.
However, what fans will be most excited about with the Bristol weekend is that it will be the last time that the wing will be seen on a car. Sunday’s Food City 500 will be its going away party as the spoiler will return at Martinsville. Who will win the last race with the wing, and will the fans send it off with a parting gift after the checkered flag flies?
With Kurt Busch’s win in Atlanta, another Creature received a gift in a win. That means there have been four races in 2010, and four wins for our Creatures. They’re undefeated heading into the Bristol Motor Speedway.
Here’s whom they believe will make it five-for-five.
Misan Akuya: Kevin Harvick
In the mist of a 111 race winless streak, Harvick returns to Bristol in hopes of breaking it like he did in 2005. Harvick has a win here in 2005, plus nine top-fives, 11 top-tens, an average finish of 12.28, and 390 laps led. This makes Bristol his fourth best track in the Cup series. The No. 29 team has quickly established themselves as the team to beat in 2010 and a win will solidify that.
Ben Bomberger: Marcos Ambrose
Sure, the names of Kurt Busch and Jeff Gordon would be popular picks this weekend, but I'm going out on a—not so far—limb and picking the Australian to bring home a win in the bullring this weekend.
Though he only has two starts at the World's Fastest Half-Mile, Ambrose has finished in the top 10 both times, and has one top-five (a third-place finish there last fall). His average finish is 6.5 and he leads the series in average running position (7.5), driver rating (108.2) and average green flag speed (114.396 mph).
James Broomhead: Kevin Harvick
It's time to embrace the RCR resurrection this week, and back Harvick (current points leader by the way) to win a race. Stat wise, Harvick is one of several drivers you could pick for a win, but with Childress in the sort of form they haven't seen for several years, let alone one, it's time to put a mark in the win column.
Kelly Crandall: Jeff Gordon
It’s a boy! Actually it will be in a few months for Gordon and wife Ingrid who are getting ready for their second child. On top of that, Gordon is off to a great start in 2010 and has shown that he can be a contender this year. After being one of the drivers that blistered the Talladega track in the spoiler test, Gordon will head to Bristol looking for his sixth Bristol win.
Besides Kurt Busch who won at Atlanta, Gordon has to be one of the most fired up and confident drivers.
Billy Fellin: Kyle Busch
I'm going to use the same logic I did for Atlanta. I don't like Kyle Busch, but at one of his favorite and arguably best tracks, I might as well get credit for it if he's going to win.
Adam Heasley: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Well I know I might hear for this one, but for this week's race at Bristol, I'm picking Dale Earnhardt, Jr. I think most of us can agree that if “Junebug” did not have any problems last race at Atlanta, it could have been him holding the checkered flag at the end of the day. Junior already has one win at Bristol, and I would not be surprised at all to see a top-five or even a win.
Christopher Leone: Kyle Busch
Easy, I know. But in his last three Bristol starts, he has accumulated an average finish of 1.3 while leading 861 of a possible 1,503 laps. That’s over 57 percent of his past three Bristol starts. Also, keep in mind that Rowdy has led a lap in every Bristol race dating back to the spring of 2006, and has led in double digits in five of those eight events.
Kara Martin: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
I am going out on a big, unstable limb this week and picking Earnhardt, Jr. It feels like a crazy choice considering that the safe selections are extremely obvious for springtime in Bristol, but Junior's stats speak volumes.
In 20 starts, he has one win, seven top-five finishes, 11 top-10s, and an average finish of 11.6, which makes Bristol his best track on the Sprint Cup circuit. Sitting just seven points shy of the top 12, this will be the week that Junior finds himself back inside.
Dustin Parks: Kyle Busch
You talk about a track perfectly suited for a driving style; this is Rowdy’s own personal playpen. He swept both races here last season and has consistently run near the front.
Now, with the racing lanes being narrowed out of the corners, it means more aggressive driving and more bumping. Definitely up the alley of the Rowdy one: The No. 18 will go to victory lane.
Patti Rodisch: Kyle Busch
This one was not a real stretch to make. Between he and his brother, they have dominated in recent years at this track. Busch may be off to a slow start this season, but that will turn around this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway. I think Sunday he could very well win this race, if not finally get his first top 10 of the season.
The key for Busch is making good in race adjustments so that instead of playing catch up from midway through the race, they are up front when it counts. I think Busch will be the first to take the checkers on Sunday.
Sal Sigala, Jr.: Kurt Busch
Kurt Busch has five wins at Bristol, with four of them coming in the Food City 500. With the addition of Steve Addington, who was able to guide his younger brother Kyle to a sweep of the track last season, the two have already proven they can win with their victory two weeks ago at Atlanta. The Dodges are not showing any signs of weakness, and had it not been for Carl Edwards intentionally dumping Busch's Penske teammate Brad Keselowski, they would have had two cars in the top 10.
Rob Tiongson: Kyle Busch
If this is indeed the last week of the wing on the COT, I say it's only fitting that the winner for this Sunday's Food City 500 is the one who completely TRASHED this car to pieces in Victory Lane in 2007, the first race for this machine.
Yep, I'm going with Shrub. And why not? He absolutely loves this track and has won here a few times. Last August was just utter domination and showed what he can do with a race car. At Bristol, as Cole Trickle once said, "[He] won't make a fool out of you."
David Yeazell: Kyle Busch
With his stats at Bristol, it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to see the younger Busch in victory lane this weekend, after he had to watch his former crew chief take his older brother there two weeks ago.
Kara Martin (631 ) Kevin Harvick finished ninth (1 )
Ben Bomberger (589 ) Kevin Harvick finished ninth (1 )
Kelly Crandall (573 ) Kevin Harvick finished ninth (0 )
Dustin Parks (544 ) Kurt Busch won (1 )
Christopher Leone (542 ) Jeff Gordon finished 18th (1 )
Billy Fellin (508 ) Jeff Gordon finished 18th (0 )
James Broomhead (5 02 ) Jimmie Johnson finished 12th (1 )
Rob Tiongson (428 ) Joey Logano finished 35th (0 )
David Yeazell (428 ) Jeff Gordon finished 18th (0 )
Misan Akuya (424 ) Mark Martin finished 33rd (0 )
Sal Sigala Jr. (408 ) Jimmie Johnson finished 12th (0 )
Patti Rodisch (366 ) Jeff Gordon finished 18th (0 )
Adam Heasley (309 ) NO PICK SENT (0 )
The Bristol Motor Speedway will host the final race in the wings history. After debuting at Bristol in March of 2007, it will race for the final time ironically, three years later at Bristol.
Thanks for the memories Mr. Wing you will… not be missed.
Summary of Picks
Kyle Busch – 6
Kevin Harvick – 2
Dale Earnhardt Jr. – 2
Marcos Ambrose – 1
Jeff Gordon – 1
Kurt Busch – 1