Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Bristol Food City 500 Storylines


Stewart, Addington Check Vegas Off The List
Get ready for some high speed short track racing (Getty)
Tony Stewart’s already short list of winless tracks has dwindled to two, as the three-time champion checked Las Vegas Motor Speedway off the list with a dominant performance that put his career wins total to 45. Now, Stewart remains winless at only Darlington Raceway and Kentucky Speedway.

But the back story of yesterday’s race was Steve Addington, whose tenure as Stewart’s crew chief is now three races old. Addington joined the team for the 2012 season, sliding into an organization that had won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship just a few months ago.

Sunday’s win was his first at Stewart-Haas Racing, and 17th overall in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Addington’s first 16 wins all came with a member of the Busch family driving (12 with Kyle; four with Kurt).

With the victory, Stewart has now won six of the last 13 races and now sits one win behind Buck Baker for 14th on the all-time series wins list.

Who’s Next? Who Knows?
Three different drivers have won the first three races – Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin and Tony Stewart.

Each of those drivers drive for a different manufacturer. Kenseth’s in a Ford; Hamlin drives a Toyota and Stewart pilots a Chevrolet. Could Dodge be next? Absolutely – the last winner at Bristol was Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge.

Johnson Continues Climb
Daytona seems like forever ago for the five-time champion. A 42nd-place finish in the Daytona 500, coupled with a 25 points penalty for infractions in prerace inspection put Johnson in the red going into Phoenix.

Now, after a fourth-place finish at Phoenix and a runner-up run in Las Vegas, Johnson is back up to 23rd in the points. Johnson won his first Bristol race in March of 2010, and tallied two top fives in last year’s two Bristol events.

Biffle Nabs Top Spot With Personal Triple Crown
With Chassis No. 777 in Las Vegas, Greg Biffle rolled his third consecutive third-place finish to start the season and take over the points lead for the second time in his career (the first was following Sonoma in 2005). Biffle credits crew chief Matt Puccia for helping him attempt to become the first driver to win all three national series titles. To lead the points, Biffle and the No. 16 3M team needed a leader and has found it in Puccia. "Just plain and simply, Matt Puccia is the reason why we're running and competing and finishing where we are," Biffle said. "This team needed leadership. He was willing to step up and take the task on. Done a fantastic job so far."

The Road To 200 Wins Lengthy For Hendrick
Hendrick Motorsports can’t come much closer to their 200th win – and not get it – then it did at Las Vegas. Jimmie Johnson finished second and Dale Earnhardt Jr. led for much of the start.

Leading more laps at Las Vegas (70) than he did all of last season (52), Dale Earnhardt Jr. continues to be the Hendrick Motorsports standard bearer, climbing one spot to fourth in points. Earnhardt earned his second top-10 finish of the season and heads to Bristol as the top Hendrick contender with Jeff Gordon (17th), Jimmie Johnson (23rd) and Kasey Kahne (26th) trailing him.

With its next win, Hendrick will become only the second team to notch 200 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins.

Active Leaders Look Forward to Bristol
Kurt and Kyle Busch, along with Jeff Gordon, lead active drivers with five wins at Bristol Motor Speedway. The Food City 500 comes at a good time after a tough start to the season for all three drivers. Kyle is 12th in points, Gordon is 17th and Kurt is 29th. Kyle has won four of the last six races at the track and hopes to reverse his fortunes after Las Vegas where he and his brother blew left rear tires to bring out the last two cautions of the race.

- NASCAR Media Services

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