NASCAR Storylines for Week of March 11, 2013
After a two-race swing out west, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series moves closer to home with Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway in eastern Tennessee. Competition at Phoenix and Las Vegas did little to shake up the points: Daytona 500 winner Jimmie Johnson, reigning champion Brad Keselowski and perennial fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. head the points standings.
Bristol marks the fourth consecutive week teams have seen a different track configuration. This time it’s a short track (0.533 miles) but with a twist. Bristol’s 28-degree banks are concrete surfaces.
Gen-6 development continues. With Toyota’s 50th victory in Las Vegas, each NSCS nameplate has scored a victory in 2013.
Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick have raced their way into the top 20 in points but they – along with several other pre-season favorites – have work remaining.
NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES – FOOD CITY 500, SUNDAY, MARCH 17, 1 P.M. ON FOX
Food City Defender Keselowski Near Perfect In 2013
Reigning champion Brad Keselowski continues to roll. Keselowski is the only driver to post top-five finishes in the season’s three opening races as well as lead a lap in each of those events. Trailing standings leader Jimmie Johnson by five points, he heads to Bristol Motor Speedway as the defending winner of the Food City 500. Keselowski also won the track’s August 2011 race. The last driver to score top fives in each of the first four races of a season: Jimmie Johnson in 2005.
Another Race Brings A Fourth Different Track Configuration
Competitors will see their fourth different track configuration this week. After starting the 2013 season at Daytona International Speedway, a 2.5-mile restrictor plate layout, teams have visited a mile (Phoenix) and a 1.5-mile intermediate track (Las Vegas). Now it’s on to a short track, Bristol, where the 0.533-mile high banks are concrete surfaced.
Toyota’s Las Vegas Triumph Gives All Three Nameplates Gen-6 Victory
Toyota, which captured its 50th NASCAR Sprint Cup victory on Sunday in Las Vegas, has won five of the last eight NSCS races at Bristol Motor Speedway. So far in 2013, each manufacturer has a victory in the new Gen-6 car – Chevrolet SS at Daytona, Ford Fusion at Phoenix and Toyota Camry at Las Vegas. At Las Vegas, for the second consecutive race, each manufacturer placed a car among the top three finishers.
Three Have Won Bristol, Championship During Chase Era
The Bristol race winner (spring and/or fall) has gone on to win that’s year’s championship 24 times. The most recent is Brad Keselowski a year ago. Others in the Chase era are Jimmie Johnson (2010) and Kurt Busch (2004). Johnson, Keselowski, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards comprise this week’s top five. Each has won at least once in Thunder Valley.
Penske, Roush Fenway Top Active Owner Winners At Bristol
This week’s race could break a winners’ logjam between Penske Racing and Roush Fenway Racing. Each has won 10 times at Bristol Motor Speedway – most among active owners. Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon are the top Bristol winners among active drivers with five victories apiece. FOX Sports commentator and NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip is the all-time Bristol winner with 12.
Lineups Shift To 2013 Owner Points For Season’s Fourth Race
This week’s Bristol race marks the first week that 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series owner points will be in play for setting positions 37-42 in starting lineups. It also governs the order of hauler parking in the NSCS garage. The No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota, which Mark Martin has driven to a sixth-place ranking, will be helmed this week by Brian Vickers, who logged fourth- and fifth-place finishes at Bristol in 2012.
Stewart Makes Points Progress, Others Still Seek Momentum
Three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart struggled through the early stages of Sunday’s Las Vegas race but salvaged a 1th-place finish – enough to move him into the top 20 in the standings (18th). He still has work to do, along with pre-season title contenders Kevin Harvick (19th), Martin Truex Jr. (22nd) and Ryan Newman (31st). Seven 2012 Chase qualifiers finished among the top eight in Las Vegas