Monday, March 14, 2011

Bristol Storylines: Track Celebrates 50th Anniversary

Johnson won at Bristol last year while Kurt Busch has 5 Bristol wins 
Anxious. That’s probably a good way to describe both the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series competitors after an open week.

What better place to unleash all that pent up competition than Bristol Motor Speedway, a spot where emotion and anticipation are already ratcheted up to a boiling point high.

Bristol celebrates its 50th anniversary of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing with the Jeff Byrd 500 Presented by Food City – named in honor the former track president who passed away last year.

The NASCAR Nationwide Series will run Saturday, with the Scotts EZ Seed 300.

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series heads into an open week after last Saturday’s race at historic Darlington Raceway.


Racers Continue To Make History As Bristol Celebrates 50th Anniversary
This season marks the 50th anniversary of Bristol Motor Speedway, a track at which the sport has generated heaps of history – and storylines.

The all-time Bristol wins leader list is practically a one-stop shop for NASCAR history in itself. Eight of the top nine are all series champions, and five of those are either NASCAR Hall of Famers, inductees or nominees. The top nine: Darrell Waltrip (12), Dale Earnhardt (9), Rusty Wallace (9), Cale Yarborough (9), Kurt Busch (5), Jeff Gordon (5), David Pearson (5), Bobby Allison (4) and Kyle Busch (4).

Wood Brothers Bristol Return Sparks Fond Memories
The return to Victory Lane for the legendary Wood Brothers at the Daytona 500 coincides with the 10-year anniversary of it last win before 2011: at Bristol in 2001, with Elliott Sadler.

A couple of Wood Brothers storylines mesh together this weekend. There’s the anniversary on the heels of the Daytona 500 win. But there’s also its driver returning to his hometown track. Trevor Bayne, a Knoxville, Tenn. native returns home to race for the first time since his win in The Great American Race.

2011 Features Some Interesting Comebacks and Slow Starts
Statistically speaking, some drivers are having starkly different seasons this year compared to last.

Some of that might have to do with a wrinkle in the schedule. Last season opened with races at Daytona, Auto Club Speedway and Las Vegas. This season opened with Daytona, Phoenix and Las Vegas.

Still, it’s interesting to see the peaks and valleys. For instance…

Stewart-Haas Racing is having the biggest comeback start. Ryan Newman has had the biggest Driver Rating jump after three races. After three events in 2010, his Driver Rating was 66.1. Currently, Newman has a rating of 101.5, a jump of 35.4 points – the largest gain in the series. Second is Tony Stewart, who improved 30.3 points – from 88.1 in 2010 to a series-best 118.4 now.

The biggest drops are all members of the 2010 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. The biggest drop is Kevin Harvick, who had a Driver Rating of 116.4 after three races last year. He now has a 73.4, a drop of 43 points. Jimmie Johnson dropped 36.7 points, from 113.0 last year to 76.3 after the first three races this season.

Storylines Season The Standings
Earnhardt Jr back in the top 10 for the first time since last April
There are some interesting stories up and down the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points standings – especially in the top 10. For instance…

The points lead is shared by two past champions – Tony Stewart (2002 and 2005) and Kurt Busch (2004).

Two 2009 Chasers are enjoyed resurgent years after missing in 2010 – Ryan Newman and Juan Pablo Montoya.

Some surprise success stories from Paul Menard in sixth, Martin Truex Jr. in seventh and AJ Allmendinger in ninth. Can they keep continue their early-season strength?

Eight-time defending NASCAR Most Popular Driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. is back in the top 10 for the first time since April of last season.

And a couple of “usual suspects” are in there too – Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin. Both made the Chase in 2010.

- NASCAR Media Services

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