Three practice sessions and qualifying are now behind us, as Sunday’s Food City 500 (1 p.m. ET/FOX/PRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) is the only thing left ahead. Weather will dictate what we do on Sunday, but here are five favorites and a few key sleepers to watch at the Bristol (Tenn) Motor Speedway.
He finally got his win last weekend in Texas, and you know what happens next – he goes on a roll. Take last year for example. It took Busch 21 races to get to victory lane in 2017. But, once he did, he won four races in a nine race span. In 2016, it took six races to get his first win. He followed that up with three wins in six starts after. In 2015, he was injured for the first 11 races. But, once he got going, it took him five races to win. Again, once he won, he’d go on a streak where he won four of five races.
You get the point.
Busch, won at Texas and got the monkey off his back. Now, the dominance ensues. The win was his fifth straight top three finish. Four of which resulted in the top two. Now, he heads to a track where he swept all three NASCAR races at last August.
Busch, has six Cup wins at the Bristol (Tenn) Motor Speedway. He’s led 2,115 laps there. His recent finishes weren’t indicative on how well his car has been either. He led 156 laps in his win last August. But, what about his 192 laps led and eighth place result in Aug. 2015? He led 256 more laps the next August race but finished 39th.
His car has been more than capable of dominating at Bristol over the last several years. The finishes just weren’t there to go along with the laps led. Last August, it finally came around. Last weekend, the season finishes did too.
He will start on the pole and was fourth, fourth and seventh respectively in practice this weekend.
He started on the pole last August and led 260 laps en route to a second place effort. He’s been getting better and better all season and heading to a track where he’s been so good on over the course of his NASCAR career. He’s won the last two XFINITY Series spring races there and should have his No. 20 Toyota in a spot at a win. In fact, Matt Kenseth drove this car to dual fourth place efforts in both races in 2017 at Bristol.
While he hasn’t been superb this weekend, he’s been good enough. He will start 13th and had his car 13th in final practice too. He was second and 11th respectively in the other two sessions.
What a great spot to put his No. 41 Ford back to victory lane. Stewart-Haas Racing has won four times already this year. Two of those were on short tracks, including just a few weeks ago at Martinsville. Busch, has five wins at Bristol and has led over 1,000 laps for his career there. He was fifth last August and third in 2016.
So far this weekend, Busch qualified second and was third, 15th and fourth quickest in practice. Unfortunately, he crashed in final practice and will start from the back. Can he make up for that?
He’s vowing to make up for his past mistakes on pit road at Bristol. See, Larson led 202 laps in this race last year but sped late on pit road and finished sixth. In August, he led 70 laps but sped again and came home ninth.
So far this weekend, Larson has been strong. He qualified sixth and was fifth and first respectively in the first two sessions.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Might as well keep this JGR/RFR theme going here. Bristol is Stenhouse’s best track. His average finishing position is 10.80. He has two runner-up finish at Bristol to go along with five top 10 finishes in his last eight starts there.
Plus, Stenhouse was 18th, eighth and 11th respectively in practice and will start fourth in the race.