Food City 500 Preview and Pick to Win

Race:Food City 500
Date:Sunday March 21, 2010
Track: Bristol Motor Speedway
Time: 1 pm ET
Channel: FOX

Bet on NASCAR races using your credit card to deposit and to get a generous 50% sign up bonus at Sportsbook (use bonus code: SPORTS50)

If racing is what you want, then racing is what you’ve got, especially since NASCAR is actually sticking to the rule they implemented this year about drivers ruling themselves on the track. And to think I used to have so much respect for Carl Edwards!

I was pretty shocked when I saw Edwards blatantly go after Keselowski not only once but TWICE until he managed to flip his car. Another race, another Edwards-Keselowski car flipping extravaganza it seems. While I certainly do not agree with what Edwards did, I think that NASCAR made a good call by not suspending him or putting some outrageous fines on him. I may be one of the only people you hear saying that, but if we all begged NASCAR to stop interfering with the racing, we have to maintain that through every incident regardless of who or what happens. NASCAR wanted drivers to work things out for themselves and it seems as if they are doing that.

This weekend will definitely be a sight to see since we’re going to Bristol. As one of the most treacherous tracks on the circuit, this one is going to be interesting to say the least after the drama of a few weeks ago. Bristol is always one heck of a race. Being a short-track, there’s little room for error, but the beauty is you can beat and bang and lean on each other and still win the race. Unlike the super speedways and even the intermediates, short tracks allow the drivers a lot of room for error.

A dent in the fender or even a missing hood won’t rule you out of victory lane here. There’s always an opportunity for a win late in the race.

Similar to Talladega and Daytona, a winner may be decided in turn 4 of the last lap here as guys have a tendency to be a lot more aggressive and daring on this track since damage isn’t a deal-breaker.

Taking a look at Bristol, we see that it’s a true oval at just over a half mile. The turns boast 36 degrees and the straights have 16 degree banking. Both the frontstretch and the backstretch are a mere 650 feet. At this particular track, fuel runs are the name of the game. Tires can definitely take you somewhere on the short runs, but on the long runs, tires do not mean too much. When it comes down to it, fuel is often a deciding factor as to who makes it to the finish depending on the course of the race.

The overriding factor as to performance here though is guts. Bristol is a track where it takes a lot of aggressive driving to sift through the lap cars, get through the rookies, and maintain that lead. Blocking is true to its name here with guys pushing each other out of the way. If there are cars at the end of the race without donuts or dents there’s a problem. Every car at Bristol comes home with a new tag.

Picking a winner here this week isn’t too difficult. We’ve been talking about him since the beginning of the season and I think this is the track where he really will shine and pull out of those second place finishes to victory lane. Kevin Harvick has the aggressiveness in him and definitely has the knowledge that you truly need to navigate this track and get into the winner’s circle. He’s had a slew of strong runs and is no stranger to the checkers in both the Cup series and the Nationwide series. The guys that are going to be at his bumper are the Busch brothers. They account for a pretty big handful of the wins here. Both brothers have been strong this year, with Kyle having a little bad luck, but this is his type of track. He can legitimately hit people here and not be looked at as the outcast. I think that we’re going to see the brothers in the top 10, if not in the top 5 this weekend pending any crazy circumstances. Just watch out for Carl!

Here are your current top 12 in the points:

1. Kevin Harvick
2. Matt Kenseth
3. Greg Biffle
4. Jimmie Johnson
5. Clint Bowyer
6. Jeff Burton
7. Mark Martin
8. Tony Stewart
9. Paul Menard
10. Kurt Busch
11. Jeff Gordon
12. Scott Speed

Now, of course, we can’t forget the Hendrick guys. Jeff Gordon is notorious for being awesome on short tracks. He’s going to have a say in this as well, but his consistency just isn’t quite there yet. Johnson can’t be counted out of any race on any track. That’s just the way it is. Tony Stewart is another one I’d watch. He’s pretty strong at the short tracks as well, and if some of that old fire comes back to him, we just might see him edging for the lead. Overall though, I think that Kevin Harvick is going to be the one to beat. He’s shown a lot of spark and a lot of drive this year so far. Stay tuned as the NASCAR’s new rules of drivers ruling themselves surely tests it limits this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Virginia’s Pick: Kevin Harvick