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Last Updated Monday, Mar 29, 2010 1:47 am, EDT

Race Capsule

Bristol Motor Speedway
  • What:

    Race 5 of 36 on Sprint Cup circuit

  • Where:

    Bristol Motor Speedway, Bristol, TN

  • When:

    March 21, 2010 1:13 pm EDT

  • Laps:

    500

  • Track Length:

    0.533 miles

  • Race Length:

    267.00 miles

  • Purse:

    $5,506,217

Drivers to Watch

Joey Logano Logano finished 34th and 38th last year at Bristol during his rookie season. "We had nothing but bad luck at Bristol," said Logano. "We blew an engine in the first race and then got run into early in the night race and lost a lot of time in the pits. So things have to go better for us this year."
Kurt Busch Bristol is easily Busch's best track -- he has five wins (but no other top-five finishes) and 10 top-10s in 18 starts there. His first Bristol victory came in March 2002, and he won three straight from March 2003 to April 2004. His victory in March 2006 was followed by his famous "Snow Angel" celebration on the frontstretch after it had snowed earlier that weekend. Busch finished 11th last March and seventh in August. He is 142 points from first place. "There was definitely a learning curve for me at Bristol," Busch recalled. "All you have to do is go back and look at my first Cup race at Bristol back in 2001. It wasn't pretty. As a matter of fact, it was downright ugly. The first time I crashed that day, it was on my own. The second time I wrecked, I was in a big pileup. I guess you could say that the third time was the charm, in that we punctured the radiator in that crash. That put us out for good. They just kept on fixing it and putting me back out there to get track time. When we were finally done for the day, I looked up on the board and there were still about 400 laps of racing left. They didn't have the tunnel down in the third turn at the time, so I was forced to sit there and watch all the others go at it for another three hours. I promised myself that day a situation like that would never happen again. It became a necessity, in my mind, to become a good racer at Bristol. I guess I've done a pretty decent job at accomplishing that goal."
Jimmie Johnson Believe it or not, Bristol is actually a track where Johnson does not excel -- he has no wins, three top-five finishes and eight top-10s in 16 starts there. But two of those top-10 finishes came last year when Johnson was third last March and eighth in August. That snapped a previous streak of seven races in which Johnson had just one top-10 finish (10th in August 2006). Johnson is 74 points out of first place. "We're getting close (to taking a win there)," he said. "It has taken a lot for me as a driver to change my habits and the way I drive that race track. I've had to completely switch over to a different driving style. It was easy for us to look at what worked for the No. 24 (Jeff Gordon) for so many years, but I just couldn't make that work. Our styles are so different that I couldn't make it work and (crew chief) Chad (Knaus) had to really focus in on some other areas, and in time we've gotten much more competitive. I feel like in the fall race last year we had a really good shot at it, but unfortunately a lug nut got hung up in the wheel and we couldn't get the wheel to index back on the hub. If we didn't have that hangup, I think we could have done it."
Jeff Gordon Gordon is a five-time winner at Bristol. He has 20 top-10 finishes in 34 starts at the track. But Gordon is worried the new SAFER barriers are going to make the track too narrow. "It's going to be very important to get your car working well for the race because with the narrower track it's going to be harder to pass," he said.
Juan Pablo Montoya Montoya has one top-10 finish in six starts at Bristol, a ninth in the spring race a year ago. "We need another run like last year," he said. "We've got to start putting together a bunch of top-10s if we want to get back into the top 12." Montoya is 74 points back of Jeff Gordon and Scott Speed, who are tied for 11th.
Matt Kenseth Kenseth is a two-time Bristol winner, in August of 2005 and 2006, and has seven top-five and 12 top-10 finishes in 20 starts. He was 33rd last March and 10th last August. "We've had a lot of success at Bristol over the years," Kenseth said. "Being a concrete, high-banked track that is so small really makes Bristol stand out from other tracks on the circuit. Bristol feels like the seats are on top of you, and the great fan atmosphere really makes it an exciting place to race. It has changed a lot since they reconfigured the track surface a few years ago -- although it's still fast and small, stuff definitely happens in a hurry. Qualifying is very important at Bristol since track position and pit position can really make or break your race sometimes."
Carl Edwards Edwards has two wins and four top-10 finishes in 11 starts at Bristol, both of his victories coming in the fall night race. "We've had a lot of success in the night races there, but we haven't been able to get a win during the day races," said Edwards. "Bob (Osborne, crew chief) and I have been talking about that and trying to figure out a way to be better at these day races at Bristol."
David Reutimann Reutimann is still looking for his first top-10 finish at Bristol. His best finish in four starts is a 12th last spring. Reutimann's streak of 44 consecutive races without a DNF ended at Atlanta, and he hopes to begin a new one at Bristol, "which is a difficult task, taking all that happens there," said Reutimann.
Tony Stewart Stewart took the checkered flag at Bristol in August 2001 and has five to-five and seven top-10 finishes in 22 starts there. He was 17th last March and 33rd in August. His last top-10 was eighth in August 2008 and his last top-five was fourth in August 2007. Stewart is 134 points back. Even with a narrower track, Stewart believes it will be the same old Bristol. "The wall is still where the wall is at," Stewart said. "... The good thing about us as drivers, after all these years of doing this, doesn't matter where they put it, we have to stay a fraction of an inch off of it and use every bit up to it. I am sure it is going to make a difference, there is no doubt about it, and, I mean, we all use every bit of room we can get there anyway. It will make the exits of the corners a little tighter, but I think the racing will still be good there because of it."
Paul Menard Menard is off to an impressive start in 2010, but he heads to Bristol looking for his first top-15 finish there. He was 25th last March and 24th in August. His best finish was 16th in August 2008. Menard is 139 points out of the Cup lead. "It's just an accumulation of a lot of hard work the guys put in over the offseason to get the cars better," Menard said. "Luckily, we've had four trouble-free races and had fast cars, so we're sitting pretty good in points right now. I don't want to prove anybody wrong. I've got nothing to prove. I just want to go out and do the best job I can, along with the race team. Everybody who supports us -- from the team owner to the driver to the crew chief to the mechanics -- they live and breathe racing and they're competitive people. Nobody wants to give a half-hearted effort. Everybody wants to go as hard as they can, and that's what we're doing. It's just another year and we're working hard to do the best we can." ... With short-track races at Bristol and Martinsville coming up, Menard is ready to show that he is up to the task. "I'm looking forward to it," he said. "We haven't run a short track yet this year, so I'm really eager to see how the car unloads. If it's anything like the previous four races, it'll be fast off the truck and then all we have to do is fine-tune it. Since it's the first short-track race there will be a lot of unknowns, but I really enjoy Bristol. Martinsville is more of a survival race, but they're two tracks I enjoy going to every year and racing."
Mark Martin Martin has two wins, 16 top-five finishes and 23 top-10s in a whopping 42 starts at Bristol. He swept both poles in 2009 and finished sixth last March and second in August, which gave him three top-10 finishes in his last four Bristol starts. Before that, Martin had 10 straight Bristol finishes out of the top-10 (March 2001 to August 2005). Martin is 123 points out of first. "Both times we went to Bristol last year, the guys gave me an awesome race car," Martin said. "We were fast right off the truck. I went out there and both times we were crazy fast. I remember thinking, 'This is crazy. I don't know how many more times I can do that to my heart!' But it's fun. And it's so rewarding to see the guys' faces when we're at the top of the chart. The second race last year, it was a really big deal for me, personally. I didn't realize it at the time, but after intros, and it being my 1,000th start, and the way the fans reacted, and the music, it was just all really amazing. I don't get choked up often but did that night. It was incredible. We finished second, didn't get the win, but it was a great race. It was nearly perfect."
Jeff Burton Burton has one win, eight top-five finishes and 13 top-10s in 32 races at Bristol. His victory came in this race in 2008, which was a 1-2-3 sweep for Richard Childress Racing, but that was his last top-five at the Tennessee short track. He was 42nd that August and, last year, finished eighth in March and 18th in August. He is 106 points out of the lead. "The man that designed Bristol must have been insane," Burton said. "To build a half-mile, 32-degree banked race track ... (it) is just bizarre that anybody could even think about that. So when you go there, you've got this challenge that the race track is and then also you have the challenge of beating 42 guys that want it as badly as you do and have a lot of skills. So it is a very rewarding experience to win there. It is what it is. When soft walls first came in, it narrowed race tracks up and everybody flipped out about it, but it really had very little impact. It just made you have to change your line a little bit. I suspect the new walls will make a little more of a difference at Bristol because the outside may not work quite as well, may not be able to arc the exit of the corner quite as much. We'll see. I'm a race fan, too, and I certainly like the controversy and the arguing and all that stuff you typically get at Bristol. The actual racing at Bristol is better than it has ever been. The wrecking isn't. There is not as much contact and there aren't as many wrecks, so I guess at the end of the day that has taken some excitement away in some eyes about Bristol. But from a racer's standpoint, most drivers like the track the way it is today."
Denny Hamlin Hamlin will be seeking his fifth straight top-six finish at Bristol. He has finished sixth, third, second and fifth in the last four races. "Coming so close (to winning) has really only made us want to win one of these Bristol races more than ever," said Hamlin. "There is no doubt that winning at Bristol would be special."
Jamie McMurray McMurray has four top-10 finishes in 14 starts at Bristol, including a third in August 2003. "Bristol is one of those places where you can run good all day and then something happens and you end up with a bad day," said McMurray. "The whole key is staying out of trouble for all 500 miles, and that is not always easy."
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Earnhardt has one win, seven top-five finishes and 11 top-10s in 20 starts at Bristol. "We've always been pretty good there," said Earnhardt. "I like running there. Bristol is a pretty physically demanding track. I got to go there when I was growing up, and I always look forward to going back."
Martin Truex Jr. Truex's best finish in eight starts at Bristol is 11th. "Bristol feels really fast," said Truex. "Of all the tracks we go to, you get a real sense of speed there. Corner speeds, g-forces and the banking -- everything happens so quick there, it makes it different and a lot of fun to drive."
Ryan Newman Newman will be seeking his fourth straight top-seven finish at Bristol and fifth in the last six races. A year ago, Newman qualified second, led 25 laps and finished seventh. It was the start of a run in which Newman finished in the top 10 in seven of 10 races to vault from 27th to fourth in the standings. He is 29th this year as he heads to Bristol this weekend.
AJ Allmendinger Allmendinger has struggled at Bristol -- he has only one top-20 finish (16th) in five starts. "Bristol is really a unique track, and like a lot of drivers and people in the sport it's one of my favorite tracks that we go to," said Allmendinger. "It's a crazy atmosphere. You have this half-mile track with stands rising tall all the way around it. It's almost like an ancient coliseum or something."
Kasey Kahne Kahne has four top-10 finishes in 12 starts at Bristol, including a second in August 2007. He does have a Nationwide Series win at the track. "Anytime you win at Bristol, it's special because that place is so tough," said Kahne. "I haven't done it in a Cup race yet, and that would be even more special. I feel like we're ready to win a Cup race at Bristol."
Greg Biffle Biffle is up to third in points, 59 out of the lead, as he heads to Bristol, where he has no wins, five top-five finishes and eight top-10s in 14 starts. He was 39th in this race last year and fourth in August. "Bristol has to be one of the most exciting tracks we go to, especially for the fans," Biffle said. "We've run well there in the past, and I think that if we can qualify up front, we should be able to keep it up there. We've had a top-five car every week this season, and I don't see any reason why it would be any different this weekend. We're taking the car we finished 10th with in Vegas, but we should have gotten a top-five with it out there. A win at Bristol would be incredible, but if we can get out of there with a solid top five, I'll be happy." ... Crew chief Greg Erwin can sum up success at Bristol in three words. "Qualifying, qualifying, qualifying," Erwin said. "Qualifying is crucial at Bristol for two reasons. The first is that pit road at Bristol is different from everywhere else because we pit on the frontstretch and the backstretch and there are no openings in pit wall, so the only good pit selections are the two ends of pit road on each side. If you don't get one of those four, you run the risk of having trouble getting in and out of the pit box because they are so small. The other reason qualifying is so important is obviously for track position. It is extremely difficult to pass at Bristol, so track position is everything. If we can qualify well this weekend, then we should have a good run."
Clint Bowyer Bowyer has no wins, two top-five and four top-10 finishes in eight Bristol starts. He was 13th last March and 21st in August. But before that Bowyer had finishes of eighth (March 2007), third (August '07), third (March 2008) and seventh (August 2008). Bowyer is 86 points out of the top spot in the standings. "The racer in you, I liked the two-wide racing," Bowyer said of the track, which has been narrowed a bit with additional SAFER Barriers. "I still think you'll be able to do it even with the narrower track. ... I don't think it will change much. It is going to narrow it up. It seems like the fans, they like the emotion, they like the beating and banging on each other and having to knock somebody out of the way to pass them. I'm a big fan of the way the surface is right now. I like being able to run side-by-side, being able to race your way around somebody. Bristol has always been one of my favorite race tracks, (both) before they repaved it or after they repaved it. I think our fans will always get their money's worth, no matter how wide or how narrow it is."
Brian Vickers Vickers finished 12th last August at Bristol to match his career-best finish at the track in his 11th start there. He has finished 29th or worse five times. "We need another run -- and finish -- like we had in the night race," said Vickers. "We're only 16 points out of the top 12 even though the year hasn't started as well as we had hoped. And we know we are going to run better."
Scott Speed Speed finished 15th in his Bristol Sprint Cup debut last spring after qualifying third. "I don't know why, but I took to Bristol from the first time I saw the place," said Speed. "I won the pole for the (2008) Truck race and finished third in my first race there. And we ran pretty well in both Cup races last year."
Kevin Harvick Harvick, who has a 26-point lead in the standings, has won once at Bristol, in this race in 2005. He has nine top-five and 11 top-10 finishes in 18 starts there but was 30th last March and 38th in August. That broke a streak of two consecutive top-five finishes (second and fourth in 2008). He has five top-five finishes in his last 10 races at BMS. "I feel good about Bristol," Harvick said. "I am sure we will base a lot of what we do off of where they were and what we have learned this year. It is all about keeping your track position there and not getting yourself in trouble. Qualifying well definitely helps things go forward. I feel more comfortable at Bristol than I do at Martinsville as far as the performance will go. We should run at Bristol in the top five and have a good shot at it if everything goes right."
Kyle Busch Busch won both races at Bristol in 2009, his second and third victories there, and finished second in the fall event of 2008. It's the only track where he has multiple victories. "I'm not exactly sure what makes me so good at Bristol," said Busch. "I've just had a lot of success there. When they changed the track to this current surface, I just really took to it right away."