The NASCAR Sprint Cup series has its fourth race on Sunday, with the Food City 500 in Bristol, CT. The race starts at 12:30 PM ET and will be televised by Fox, which heads into ESPN’s backyard. TheSportsNotebook calls in its NASCAR junkie, my brother Bill for some insights about the race and what to be on the lookout for.
“It’s a short track,” Bill said. “It makes it tough to comeback and that means track position is everything. He went on to explain that the shorter track makes it tougher for drivers to hit high speeds or even to make a comeback if they fall behind early. Hence, the emphasis on track position. While in many races who wins the pole is an interesting enough media story, but has little actual impact on who wins, Bristol track is different and that works to the advantage of Greg Biffle.
Biffle hasn’t won a race yet this year, but through consistency he’s already risen to the top of the point standings as the veteran looks to win the first Cup of his career. That’s still a long way off, but his first win isn’t—he edged out A.J. Allmendinger for the pole at Bristol and as long he doesn’t end up in a wreck, he’ll be a tough driver to beat.
Bristol’s unique track environment offers something else of interest for the fans, and it’s the potential for some revenge plays. “It’s known as the place for drivers holding grudges, Bill told TheSportsNotebook. “Because it’s such a small track, you can run a driver off and say ‘that’s just racing’.” And even if grudges aren’t in the picture, the tight environment can create an atmosphere where tempers flare. Think about an NFL announcer talking about things getting chippy on the field if a few lineman start jawing. Then imagine that happening at Mock 2, or whatever speed these drivers are operating it. That’s what we’ve got at Bristol on Sunday.
While Biffle’s pole position makes him the favorite, Bill recommends keeping an eye on the Busch Brothers, Kyle and Kurt. The latter “hasn’t been as strong lately, but normally he’s good on short tracks.” And Kyle is one to watch no matter what happens. “He’s either going to do really well and have a chance to win, or is he’s going to blow up and screw himself over,” Bill said bluntly. Either way, we can look for a Kyle Busch storyline to be an essential part of the racing experience.
Taking a look at the overall Sprint Cup standings, Kevin Harvick is running second, while Denny Hamlin is third. My personal favorite, Matt Kenseth is sitting on sixth. Kenseth hails from Madison, WI, the city I’m heading to tonight to meet with friends for corned beef and cabbage plus the Wisconsin-Vanderbilt NCAA Tournament game. Let’s see Bucky and Kenseth make it a clean sweep for Madtown.