Fan’s View: Who to Watch when the Sprint Cup Series Returns to Bristol

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It's time for Saturday night short-track mayhem at Bristol Motor Speedway, where the Sprint Cup Series stars will take the green flag on Saturday, August 25 for the IRWIN Tools Night Race. With just three races left before the Chase for the Sprint Cup begins, the clock is ticking for some perennial favorites to make the cut. Here's who to watch out for this Saturday at Bristol.

Kurt Busch - in 23 races, Busch has 13 top 10 finishes - including five wins - and a pole. He's not a threat for the Chase, but he has to be considered a threat at Bristol.

Kyle Busch - the younger Busch brother is just 11 points out of a Wild Card spot, sitting behind Ryan Newman. Much like his brother, "Rowdy" excels at Bristol, with a total of 10 top 10s - including five wins - in 15 races at the track. A win at the popular .533-mile track in Tennessee would lift Busch into the second Wild Card as a two-time winner along with Kasey Kahne.

Jeff Gordon - another driver with five wins at Bristol, Gordon, like Kyle Busch, is looking for a Wild Card spot to top off his comeback season, which found Gordon in 24th place just 13 races ago. In 39 races at Bristol, Gordon has 21 total top 10s as well as five poles.

Carl Edwards - Edwards needs a win to even begin thinking about racing in the Chase. Winless so far in 2012, Edwards has two wins and seven total top 10 finishes in 16 races at Bristol, along with two poles. Sitting 12th in points, he would jump into the Wild Card mix with a win.

Matt Kenseth - Kenseth sits second in points and has all but secured a spot in the Chase, but his battle is for the top spot, currently held by teammate Greg Biffle. He's also got Dale Earnhardt Jr. right behind him in third by just two points, and "Five-Time" Jimmie Johnson sitting fourth, just eight points back. Kenseth has 17 top 10 finishes - including two wins - at Bristol, along with a pole.

Brad Keselowski - another two-time winner at Bristol, Keselowski is still a newcomer at the track, with just five Cup Series starts on his resume. Also running with a spot all but secured in the Chase, Keselowski has a run of seven consecutive top 10 finishes, including two straight runner-up finishes at Watkins Glen and Michigan.

Source: "Statistical Advance: Analyzing the IRWIN Tools Night Race," NASCAR Media, August 20, 2012

Paula is a long-time NASCAR fan who also covers the sport at Examiner.com and Skirts & Scuffs.

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