Race: Food City 500
Date: Sunday April 17, 2016
Track: Bristol Motor Speedway
Time: 1 pm ET
by Virginia Vroom, NASCAR Handicapper, Predictem.com
Leave it to Kyle Busch to pull off a win at Texas, making it 4 wins in a row if you count in his Xfinity wins! He's on a roll again, much like his domination last year, which led to a championship. Dale Jr. was nipping his heels for a second place finish, with Logano rounding out the top three. Jimmie Johnson came in 4th, but just didn't have the dominating car like Busch has in the last few races. This weekend, it will be interesting to see if he can continue this domination as we head back to short track racing.
Bristol Motor Speedway is the pinnacle of short track racing. After years and years of sell-out crowds, it's no wonder that both drivers and fans alike hold this track close to their hearts. This is a place where tempers fly no matter how hard drivers try to contain themselves. Much like Martinsville, this track has its history. It opened in 1961 and has maintained its position as a NASCAR staple for each year since. This track is a 0.533 concrete mile with 26 to 30 degree variable banking in the turns and 6 to 10 degrees variable banking through the straights.
Bristol is a challenging track with respect to the rookies. Although Martinsville is similar in size, Bristol seems to bring more challenges due to the banking through the turns. The braking isn't as intense as it is at Martinsville and the drivers can carry a little more speed and momentum throughout much of the track. This leads to more cars sliding around and, ultimately, more side by side racing than at Martinsville. Passing is a little more favorable or, at the very least, possible. It takes quite the skillful driver, however, to maneuver his car past the other 39 in the field with the amount of lap traffic that tends to build up, much like any other short track. The thing about lap traffic on these short tracks is that those drivers 2, 3, and even 4 or more laps down are fighting each other to be the Lucky Dog or just to hold on to that position. This tends to lead to lap cars blocking lead lap cars, creating another layer to that element of frustration that we always see here at Bristol.
When it comes to picking a winner here at this track, it's going to be hard to bet against Kyle Busch. He's got the most wins of any active drivers along with his brother. Both Busch brothers are strong contenders here, but Kyle will likely edge out older brother Kurt for the win this weekend. Other likely contenders include Logano, Edwards, and Kenseth. Overall, this field is likely to be dominated by the M&Ms car, though. What we need to be looking out for are the qualifying results. As with any short track, qualifying towards the rear is bad for 2 reasons. The first reason being drivers will be starting essentially half a lap down from the beginning because of the length of the track, leaving themselves open to being lapped relatively quickly. Additionally, starting towards the rear means guys will likely be stuck in packs of cars with less experience. They will also just be stuck…in a pack of cars. Accidents are much more likely towards the middle and back of the field, especially on the restarts. Let's take a look at your best chances for winners this weekend heading into Bristol:
My Pick to Win: Kyle Busch
Middle of the Road Pick: Jamie McMurray
Dark Horse Prediction: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Bet your picks using your credit card and get a generous 50% sign-up bonus up to $250 FREE at one of the web's oldest and most trusted betting sites: Bovada Sportsbook!
Stenhouse Jr. is likely a Hail Mary pick for many of you, but if you look at his record here at Bristol, you may be surprised. With a second place finish in the books and also a pretty strong showing so far this season, this dark horse may be able to pull it off with a little luck on his side. McMurray is always a decent pick on the short tracks, although his performance at Martinsville left a lot to be desired. Hopefully, he can rebound a bit with a solid finish here at Bristol. Stenhouse is currently edged out of the top 16, while McMurray is holding on in 13th position.
Here are your current top 16 after last week's race:
1. Kyle Busch
2. Jimmie Johnson
3. Kevin Harvick
4. Carl Edwards
5. Joey Logano
6. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
7. Kurt Busch
8. Denny Hamlin
9. Brad Keselowski
10. Austin Dillon
11. Martin Truex Jr.
12. Matt Kenseth
13. Jamie McMurray
14. Chase Elliot
15. AJ Allmendinger
16. Kasey Kahne
It's good to see so many of the rookies and not-so-veteran-drivers holding their own and staying in Chase contention thus far. Granted, we're only 7 races in, these guys have a lot of work to continue to do, but they're proving that they will be a force to be reckoned with on the track with the big guns. We will have to wait and see how Bristol treats these guys. Stay tuned for an awesome afternoon of short track fiery at Bristol Motor Speedway! Another great place to bet on Auto Racing that offers a fat bonus: Bookmaker.
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