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Last Updated Sunday, Aug 30, 2009 2:14 am, EDT

Race Capsule

Bristol Motor Speedway
  • What:

    Race 24 of 36 on Sprint Cup circuit

  • Where:

    Bristol Motor Speedway, Bristol, TN

  • When:

    August 22, 2009 7:43 pm EDT

  • Laps:

    500

  • Track Length:

    0.533 miles

  • Race Length:

    267.00 miles

  • Purse:

    $6,358,952

Drivers to Watch

Mark Martin Martin has two wins, eight poles, 15 top-five finishes and 22 top-10s in 41 starts at Bristol. He will be making his 1,000th start in a NASCAR-sanctioned, points-paying event on Saturday night. "Wow," said Martin. "That's a lot of races. I didn't realize that I was even close to that many." Martin won the pole for the spring race and finished sixth for the team's first top-10 finish of the year. He needs another top-10 run this weekend to remain in the top 12.
Greg Biffle Biffle's Bristol record includes no wins, four top-five finishes and seven top-10s in 13 starts. He hasn't come close to a top-five since he was fourth in March 2008. Since then, he has finished 11th last August and 39th in March. "Bristol is just so intense," Biffle said. "You can't relax at all. It's like walking a tightrope for 500 miles and holding your breath the whole time. No other track is like that. It obviously takes a good race car to win at Bristol, but it helps to qualify well. Sometimes it can be hard to pass, and if the field gets backed up, it doesn't take long for the leader to start lapping cars. If you have a bad qualifying run or have to start in the back for some other reason, it can be difficult even with a good car to get back through the field. The night race has a whole different level of excitement, and it should be a great race for the fans."
Matt Kenseth Kenseth has two wins, seven top-five finishes and 11 top-10s in 19 starts at Bristol. Both of his wins have come under the lights. "Bristol has the banking of a track like Daytona and the size of Martinsville," said Kenseth. "The configuration really creates super fast short track racing where things happen in the blink of an eye, and everyone must be sharp and on their toes."
Clint Bowyer Bowyer's streak at Bristol of four straight top-10 finishes, including two thirds, was snapped in March when he ended up 13th. "That's one of my favorite tracks, so running well there always means a lot to me," said Bowyer. "We tried something in the spring race that we've never tried before, and it just didn't work out. We'll go back to what we know works there, and I'm confident we'll get a good result."
Casey Mears Mears has only one top-10 finish in 13 starts at Bristol. "We've had some good cars for Bristol, but one thing I know we need to do is qualify better," said Mears. "It seems so easy to go down a lap early or get caught up in something early in the race. That's the way it's always seemed to go for me there."
Joey Logano Logano was stopped by engine failure in the first Bristol race this year and ended up 38th. "This (the night race at Bristol) is one of the most exciting races all year; I've watched a lot of them," said Logano. "I think it is cool that I get to be involved in a race like this, under the lights at Bristol. We should be pretty good this weekend, and I know it's going to be fun."
Ryan Newman Newman is another winless Cup driver at Bristol and has just one top-five finish and eight top-10s in 15 starts there. He finished second in this race in 2004, but his prospects could be on the rise -- since finishing 33rd in March 2008, Newman was sixth last August and seventh in March. "I think Bristol in general is more conducive to two-wide racing than it ever has been, so I think those double-file restarts will be more exciting for the fans," Newman said. "We saw when the race track was redone that the fans were mostly disappointed because they didn't see the bumper-to-bumper beating and banging and the crashes. I think the double-file restarts will add some excitement back to that. Not because of the crashes but just more excitement, and we've seen that, I think in my opinion, at every race. Pocono was probably the worst I've seen as far as aggressiveness on restart, and I think guys are starting to realize it's a great opportunity to make some spots and feeling a little bit more aggressive. That will mix up that 500-mile question a little bit more depending on the restarts that we have, but for a long time there at Pocono we didn't have much for restarts in the middle of the race."
Juan Pablo Montoya Montoya has just one top-10 finish in five Bristol starts, and that came in March when he was ninth. "The first time I went there was before they redid the track," Montoya said. "It was a handful. It was really, really hard because you really had to be on the bottom. I think experience on the track paid a big thing. If you missed the bottom or they moved you up, you would lose a lot of ground. Now I think it's nicer. I think you see a lot more racing. You see a lot more side-by-side racing, and there are a lot of different race lines. The racing is better. We normally run well there, so I'm pretty excited and looking forward to it."
Kurt Busch Busch is a five-time Cup winner at Bristol, in March 2002, a three-race streak from March 2003 through March 2004, and in March 2006. Those five wins are his only five top-five finishes and five of his nine top-10s in 17 starts there. However, Busch has not finished inside the top 10 since this race in 2007. He was 12th in March 2008, 15th in this race last year and 11th in March. "Bristol has always been like a home track to me, and this weekend's race couldn't come at a better time for our team," Busch said. "We always seem to get a little extra 'oomph' going every time we head back to Bristol."
Brian Vickers Vickers is still looking for his first top-10 finish at Bristol. In 10 starts on the high-banked oval, his best finish is 12th. He ended up 29th in the spring. Vickers needs a much better finish on Saturday night to stay in the hunt for the Chase. The team announced Tuesday that the contract extension with Vickers has finally been signed. "This has been a long time coming, and there is nowhere else I would rather be," he said.
Kyle Busch Despite starting 19th in the spring race at Bristol, Busch led 378 of the 500 laps to score his second victory there. A year ago, he led 415 laps before ending up second to Carl Edwards. "We've got some good tracks coming up," said Busch, who trails 12th-place Mark Martin by 70 points. "We've had success at all three -- Bristol, Atlanta and Richmond. We just need to have good, solid runs, and hopefully everything will work out."
Kevin Harvick Harvick has one win, nine top-five finishes and 11 top-10s in 17 starts at Bristol. "Bristol has always been a pretty good track for us," said Harvick. "Bristol, like any short track, is tight, and you can get easily into trouble. You just have to stay clean and focused. As long as you are there at the end, you have a shot at winning the race."
Jamie McMurray McMurray has four top-10 finishes in 13 starts at Bristol. "The biggest thing (about this weekend) is to qualify well so you have good track position and then to avoid the wrecks throughout the night," said McMurray. "You can be leading the race one minute and then find yourself in the middle of a wreck the next minute since we're racing so close and so fast."
David Reutimann Reutimann finished 12th in the spring race at Bristol for his best finish at the track in three Sprint Cup starts. He does have four top-10 finishes in five Nationwide Series races at the high-banked speedway, including a couple of third-place finishes. "We've qualified real well there the last two Cup races," said Reutimann. "So we feel good about our chances this weekend."
AJ Allmendinger Allmendinger finished 16th in the spring race at Bristol for his best finish in four starts at the track. "Man, the Bristol night race is the coolest race of the year," said Allmendinger. "The track asked me what song to play when they introduce me to the 150,000 fans on Saturday night. I thought about it all weekend at Michigan. Bristol is like a rock concert, so you can figure that my song isn't going to be too laid back."
Jimmie Johnson Johnson has never won at Bristol but has three top-five finishes and seven top-10s in 15 starts. He is coming off a third-place finish in March, but that was his first top-five there in an incredible eight starts -- a dismal streak that included a 33rd-place finish in this race last year and a 36th in this race in 2005. He said of his March finish, "I wish that we could have lined up and raced another 500 laps after the race was over because I really understood the track and understood our setup. We were kind of scared to make any adjustments during the race because it was going so well. But looking back on it, we were very competitive. Coming back for the fall race, I think we're as close as we're ever going to be to win a race there. I'm excited for the future at Bristol. The old track in general was a dog-eat-dog world. If you were ... a half of a 10th (of a second) faster than guys, you had a great evening; if you're a half of a 10th off you're in everybody's way and every guy that got to you was going to knock you out of the way. I know the fans really enjoyed that from everything I've seen so far, but from a racing standpoint it's nice going to the track now knowing that you can actually race for your positions. If you don't have the best car, a guy has the option of going around and isn't just going to dump you. I like that aspect of it."
Marcos Ambrose Ambrose finished 10th in his first Sprint Cup start at Bristol in March. "Man, I can't wait to get back to Bristol," said Ambrose. "We ran really well there in the spring, and all of us on the team are really looking forward to going back. We feel like we had a shot at winning there until we dropped a cylinder."
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Earnhardt has one win, seven top-five and 10 top-10 finishes in 19 starts at Bristol. "We're getting better as a team," said Earnhardt. "It's just really, really hard to be patient. I want to carry the momentum from Michigan (where he finished third). Hopefully we can have another good run."
Kasey Kahne Kahne is looking for his first victory at Bristol, where he has two top-five finishes and four top-10s in 11 starts. Two of those top-fives have been in the last four races, including second in this race in 2007 and fifth in March. His 40th-place finish in this race in 2008 is his only result outside the top 10 in the last four races there. "The biggest surprise for me was just how hard you can drive the car here," Kahne said. "Every lap, (it's amazing) how fast you're going on such a small track. Where you lift getting into a corner, you can drive in really far and you can get back into the throttle really quick. To me, when I first came here, I remember like it was yesterday ... my first time racing here in the 98 car in the Nationwide Series. I couldn't believe how fast that you could go at this track. How the g-forces compared to any of the other tracks that I had raced on at that point. It was a big difference, big change. Now it's just kind of normal, just like any other race track. You figure it out and you remember how this place races and you just keep trying to get better."
Tony Stewart Stewart continues his 284-point stranglehold on first place in the standings as he heads to Bristol for Saturday night's slugfest. Stewart has won this race once, in 2001, and has five top-five finishes and seven top-10s in 21 Bristol starts. But his last top-five there came in this race in 2007, when he was fourth, and his last top-10 was this race last year, when he was eighth. Stewart finished 17th in March. "To come out with a team that's new and be leading the points (over) halfway through the year is a huge accomplishment right now for us," he said.
Carl Edwards Who says a driver has to win to be in the top five in points? Edwards hasn't won a Cup race all season and is up to fourth in the standings. His first win this season could come Saturday night because Edwards has won this race the last two years. In 10 Bristol starts, he has three top-five finishes and four top-10s, but he fares much better in the night race -- the last two times he raced in the daytime March race, he finished 16th in 2008 and 15th in 2009. "We're coming off of a great, great run at Michigan," Edwards said. "We're going to go to Bristol with the first goal being to finish the race. Our second goal will be to have the same success that we've had the last couple years in the night race there. I'm really confident at that racetrack. I enjoy racing there. I'm a little nervous about the double-file restart there, though. It has the potential to cause a lot of stress for the guys that are points racing. That'll be interesting to see how that plays out. There's no more exciting event on the schedule than the Bristol night race, so it should be fun."
Jeff Gordon Thanks to teammate Jimmy Johnson's fuel-mileage gamble going bust at Michigan, Gordon has moved into second in the standings heading to Bristol, where he has an impressive record of five victories, 14 top-five finishes and 20 top-10s in 33 starts. But Gordon's last Bristol victory was seven years ago, in this race in 2002. Gordon has been strong the last two races there, with a fifth in this race last year and a fourth in March. "We had to adjust to the 'new' car here, and we had to adjust to the changes in the track," Gordon said. "But we've made progress, and I hope we have made even more progress so that we're a threat to win the race. I love this track, and I love the changes they made to it a few years back. But it's still a tough short track where you are constantly battling for position or battling traffic -- and you can easily get swept up in somebody else's accident. Hopefully we're not one of the teams visiting the website after the race searching for a trusted body shop."
Jeff Burton In 30 starts at Bristol, Burton has one win, eight top-five finishes and 13 top-10s, including an eighth in March. "Bristol is a track has been pretty good for us," said Burton. "We've been competitive almost every time we raced there. We have a win and would like to get more. There were other times when we were in position to win, so it's been a real strong track for the 31 team."
Sam Hornish Jr. Hornish has not finished better than 27th in his three starts at Bristol. "We have found success this season at the short tracks (including a 10th at Phoenix and a sixth at Richmond), and it's been really gratifying to see how much this 77 team has improved," he said. "I've really grown to like the short tracks."
Denny Hamlin Hamlin has never won a Cup race at Bristol but has two top-five finishes -- in the last two races there -- and four top-10s in seven starts. He has finished in the top 10 the last three races after a last-place finish in this race in 2007. "Coming so close before has really only made us want to win one of these Bristol races more than ever," Hamlin said. "We've felt like we've had the car on a couple of occasions but had some bad luck in terms of parts going bad at the worst possible times. Twice we ran almost 500 laps around Bristol to get in position to win only to have things go wrong at the very end. This team regroups and works even harder because we know we can run well at Bristol. We build really competitive cars, and I have learned a lot about racing here and how to get around this place whether I am running at the front and worrying about clearing traffic or coming from way back in the field and trying to get to the front. I always like our chances coming here, and I also feel that we are getting back to our best as a team."