Sunday, May 31, 2020

Harvick finishes 11th at Bristol, first non-top-10 in 2020

Harvick Rallies to Finish 11th at Bristol
Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang Driver Remains First in NASCAR Cup Points
Date: May 31, 2020
Event: Food City presents the Supermarket Heroes 500 (Round 9 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (.533-mile oval)
Format: 500 laps, broken into three stages (125 laps/125 laps/250 laps)
Start/Finish: 8th/11th (Running, completed 500 of 500 laps)
Point Standing: 1st (370 points, 24 ahead of Joey Logano)

Race Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-125):
●  Kevin Harvick started eighth and finished sixth, earning five bonus points.
●  The No. 4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang was fine early on. Harvick said he was “just saving my tires.”
●  Harvick pitted on lap 62 for four tires, fuel and a tires pressure and track bar adjustment. Came in 10th, and left seventh.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 126-250):
●  Kevin Harvick started sixth and finished third, earning eight bonus points.
●  The No. 4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang pitted on lap 129 for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. He entered the pits in sixth place.
●  On lap 204, Harvick pitted for four tires, fuel and a tire pressure adjustment. Harvick exited in fourth-place.

Stage 3 Recap (Laps 251-500):
● Kevin Harvick started 14th and finished 11th.
● The No. 4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang pitted on lap 253 for four tires, fuel and a tire pressure adjustment. Said car was still too tight.
● On lap 330, Harvick pitted for four tires and fuel. Said the cars balance was good.
● With 67 laps left, Harvick’s car got into the car driven by Erik Jones and then got into the SAFER Barrier on the outside retianing wall while in fifth place. He pitted twice for repairs and restarted 21st with 61 laps remaining.
● On lap 459, Harvick pitted for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. Crew also made more repairs and Harvick restarted 19th.
● After restarting 19th, Harvick managed to work his way up to 11th place.

●  Brad Keselowski won the Food City presents the Supermarket Heroes 500 to score his 32nd career NASCAR Cup Series victory, his second of the season and his third at Bristol. His margin of victory over second-place Clint Bowyer was .471 of a second.
●  This was Ford’s series-best fifth win of the season and its 691st all-time NASCAR Cup Series victory.
●  This was Ford’s 38th NASCAR Cup Series victory at Bristol. The last Ford driver to win at Bristol was Kurt Busch in August 2018 while a member of SHR. 
●  There were 17 caution periods for a total of 102 laps.
●  Only 22 of the 40 drivers in the race finished on the lead lap.
●  Harvick remains the championship leader after Bristol with a 24-point advantage over second-place Joey Logano.
●  Harvick finished sixth in Stage 1 to earn five bonus points and third in Stage 2 to earn eight more bonus points.

Next Up:
The next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Folds of Honor 500 on Sunday, June 7 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The race starts at 3 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Bristol Betting Preview: 2020 Food City 500

Kyle Busch goes for his 9th Bristol win.
Date: Sunday, May 31, 2020
Venue: Bristol Motor Speedway
Television-Time: FS1, 3:35 p.m. ET

Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway will be the ninth NASCAR Cup Series race of 2020, and fifth since restarting the season two weeks ago.

What’s makes this race unique from a betting perspective, probably more than any Bristol race I’ve ever bet, is that there is an extreme unknown factor putting the bookmakers and bettors both at the same disadvantage.

There are no practices or qualifying and they’ll be racing with the race package featuring engines with 750 horsepower and a shorter spoiler that has raced only once this season, at Phoenix Raceway, the last race before the nation shut down.

The Phoenix race won by Joey Logano is a good starting point to review. We saw four drivers lead at least 60 laps, three of which had more then Logano. There were 20 lead changes altogether with Team Penske showing some strength, but Stewart-Haas Racing saw all four of its drivers finish ninth or better led by Kevin Harvick who was runner-up. The flat 1-mile spread at Phoenix races different than Bristol’s high-banked half-mile concrete layout, but from a performance perspective, it’s almost all we have to reference.

While I feel Chase Elliott, Brad Keselowski, and eight-time Bristol winner Kyle Busch should be the drivers to beat, the unknown factor has piqued my interest, the greed interest. Part of it is due to Phoenix and part of it is due to past history.

How about I try and make a case for Matt Kenseth to win? Sure, he’s looked rusty at times since taking over the No. 42, but Bristol is one of his best tracks over his career with four wins, and 15 top-five finishes which is tops among active drivers. He’s led 1,583 laps, second-most among actives, and has completed almost 95 percent of the scheduled laps with just four DNFs in 36 starts.

Kyle Larson started the season in the No. 42 for Chip Ganassi Racing and last fall at Bristol had run the fastest laps during the race and finished sixth. In the March Phoenix race, Larson finished fourth using the race package Kenseth will be using this week.

But it’s the perceived rust factor that allows us to get 50-to-1 odds or higher on the 48-year old to win -- unless you bet in the Washington D.C. area that just got a lousy sportsbook operator.

Kenseth’s last Bristol races were in 2017 and he finished fourth in both. His last Bristol win was 2015. The Westgate Las Vegas Superbook opened Kenseth at 80-to-1 odds to win on Friday afternoon.

The other driver that has long odds is Clint Bowyer who has run great at Bristol, but I like him more this week due to his fifth-place at Phoenix and all his SHR teammates finishing in the top-10 with this 750 horsepower package. Bowyer loves this track.

“Just the unknown, being able to go for it, being able to not worry about an aero push or horsepower deficit or whatever the case may be – get ahold of the steering wheel, get ahold of the gas pedal and make something happen and this is a track where you can do that,” Bowyer said.

Bowyer has finished eighth or better in his last four Bristol starts and had a career-best runner-up in 2017, his first season driving for SHR. He’s got seven top-fives in 28 starts, and he’s been close to winning in at least four of those.

Kevin Harvick is a two-time Bristol and I’ve always believed he should have a few more there because it fits him perfectly. I still feel like I was robbed in 2001 when as a rookie he led 137 laps and had the best car but lost to Elliott Sadler who appeared to use the same set of tires that didn't lose grip the entire race.

Harvick has been runner-up five times since then and 12 total top-fives overall which is tied with three others for second-most among active drivers. The Superbook has him 8-to-1 this weekend.

The favorites to win this week are Kyle Busch and Chase Elliott at 9-to-2 odds which says a lot about Elliott’s rise and to some degree Kyle Busch’s fall. He is winless and hasn’t led a lap since the Daytona 500 which ironically turned out to be his worst finish (34th) so far. But Busch has this place figured out.

“Bristol is kind of a finicky place,” Kyle Busch said. “You’re used to running on asphalt every week and so the concrete can throw you for a little bit of a loop. But that place ages and the track changes, there are some little nuances that change with the racing surface and the line, they’re always changing something. We had the old concrete there and then they went to this progressive style concrete and then they ground the top and then they spread the PJ1 on the bottom, and now you run the bottom but you end up going back to the top at the end the race.

“It’s just paying attention to days leading up to it, with the Xfinity race or Trucks in the fall and getting your eyes on the track and seeing what it’s doing,” Busch continued. “We won’t have that luxury now, but we’ll obviously be paying attention to how the race starts and which way track is trending with our Skittles Camry.”

More uncertainty in all facets of this race.


Clint Bowyer a live 30/1 long shot to win at Bristol

'Built Ford Proud' In Bristol

KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (May 29, 2020) – The slogan 'Built Ford Proud' is three simple words that hold so much history and meaning.

“There are hundreds of thousands of Ford employees and millions of customers all over the world who know exactly what ‘Built Ford Proud’ means,” said Clint Bowyer, whose No. 14 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) will carry blue and white “Built Ford Proud” decals Sunday in the 500-lap NASCAR Cup Series race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.

For most race fans the “Built Ford Proud” slogan creates images of the Mustang – Ford’s sporty coupe that Bowyer races in NASCAR – or the Ford F-150, the company’s popular pickup truck. The F-150 has been America’s best-selling truck for 43 consecutive years and the best-selling vehicle overall for 38 consecutive years.

“Built Ford Proud” represents the decades of hard work, consistent determination to be the best and ultimately, it represents the American spirit. When America faces a challenge the Ford Motor Company has a strong heritage of help.

The story of the “Arsenal of Democracy” and Ford Motor Company’s contributions to the war effort during World War II is one that is well known. Tanks, jeeps, and planes were rolling off Ford assembly lines. On the civilian front, Ford was providing resources for successful Victory Gardens as an answer to widespread food rationing. 

In 1941, one of the greatest causes if infant mortality was premature birth, especially in rural areas of the country where the only substitute for the warmth of the mother’s body, the incubator, was seldom available. Henry Ford overheard a conversation about the development of a portable incubator, then had his experts and production line workers address the problem. Soon, infants were in Ford incubators across the country.

By the late 1940s, the Polio crisis was rising in the U.S. Ford plastics plant, production engineering facility, and tool & die departments combined talents to produce an iron lung for polio victims.

The examples are many and still apply today as Ford is once again answering the call to help America amid the COVID-19 virus. Ford joined forces with firms such as 3M and GE Healthcare to quickly expand production of urgently needed medical equipment and supplies for healthcare workers, first responders, and patients. From leveraging its in-house 3D printing capability to produce components for use in personal protective equipment, to beginning the production of urgently needed ventilators, Ford is stepping up.

“We are all in this together,” said Bowyer, whose No. 14 Mustang will carry an in-car camera Sunday at Bristol. “I’m proud of the way NASCAR, Ford and SHR are helping everyone out. This is bigger than racing.”

Since the onset of the pandemic, SHR has been building intensive care unit webcam carts for Novant Health. The team began building a prototype cart in mid-April for use in hospital ICUs. SHR recently delivered 10 of its ICU webcam carts to Novant Health with the plan to build 110 units over the coming weeks for use across Novant Health’s integrated system of physician practices, hospitals and outpatient centers.

NASCAR has led the way in the return of sports in America. Sunday will continue to see NASCAR operate under a comprehensive health and safety plan that permits no fans, limited crew, strict social distancing, and mandated personal protective equipment and health screenings for all, just as it did for each of the two races held in both Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway and Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.  

It’s been rough sledding for Bowyer since NASCAR’s return to racing after the pandemic suspended competition for 10 weeks. He’s been consistently shown having one of the fastest cars on the track in the four races, but accidents, penalties and bad luck have plagued his finishes.

He enters Sunday’s race 14th in points after finishing 16th in Thursday night’s 500-kilometer race at Charlotte despite three penalties on pit road. A few days before, in Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600, Bowyer moved from 20th to 11th-place before a mechanical issue sent his No. 14 Mustang into the wall on lap 96 of the 400-lap race, leaving him with a 40th-place finish.

Bowyer finished 17th and 22nd in the two Darlington races the previous week. He ran in the top-six most of the May 17 race before problems in the final stage dropped him to 17th. On May 20 at Darlington, he won the first two stages – a first for a driver in 2020 – and led 71 laps to surpass the 3,000-laps-led mark for his career. But, once again, very late-race trouble that saw wall contact and a spin resulted in a disappointing finish.

Bowyer hopes Bristol is the track where he can turn it around. He owns seven top-five finishes in 28 starts there, including four consecutive top-10s. In last year’s April race at Bristol, Bowyer started eighth and finished second in Stage 1, and eighth in Stage 2. He took the lead with 125 laps remaining, but contact with Joey Logano with 60 laps remaining ruined his bid for victory, leaving him with a seventh-place finish.

Bowyer jokingly wished it would rain in Charlotte this week so NASCAR would schedule doubleheaders at Bristol. That could be because he has finished in the top-eight at Bristol in seven of the last nine races.

“I just like the place,” he said. “I’m a short-track racer and have a lot of confidence on these short tracks coming up. I hope it starts Sunday.”

There isn’t much rest planned for the days after Bristol. The Cup Series will return to action at Atlanta Motor Speedway on June 7, Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on June 10, Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway on June 14, and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway on June 21.

Clint Bowyer, Driver of the No. 14 'Built Ford Proud' Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

What has it been like to be part of the Ford Family?
“What a treat. There are certain things in life, and I guess it all depends on how you grew up, but there are certain things that just hit you. Those surreal moments. I was texting my father, and a guy who means a lot to me and is really close to him and has been around hot rods and drag racing all my life, my whole upbringing. I was like, ‘You are never going to believe this. I am at Henry Ford’s estate with his great-grandson Edsel as a host at dinner.’ Did you hear what I just said? I am from a little town in Kansas and here I am at Henry Ford’s estate, looking at a power plant that he built off the river that charged his estate with the help of Edison. Edison, yes, that guy. It is unbelievable. It was just, my gosh. The pride that Edsel has in his family’s history. It was super cool to sit across the table from Edsel and hear him speak about the history and impact it has made in his life and in our country. It really was a surreal moment that hit me in a big way and I very much appreciated it. It was a very cool night.”

What are your thoughts on Bristol Motor Speedway?
“Anybody who hates Bristol shouldn’t be in racing because this is the mecca of all racetracks. This is the granddaddy of them all. There’s no question. Look at this place. Look at the grandstands. I mean, there’s nothing like this place, and tracks like this we need all across the country. A fan, if they want to be a fan of this sport, they need to learn short-track racing and they need to learn of Bristol Motor Speedway. There’s not a fan, a family member, a friend, anybody that I know that I wouldn’t point in the direction of Bristol Motor Speedway so, as a racer on the racetrack, it’s no different.”

What makes Bristol so special?
“Just the unknown, being able to go for it, being able to not worry about an aero push or horsepower deficit or whatever the case may be – get ahold of the steering wheel, get ahold of the gas pedal and make something happen and this is a track where you can do that.”

Kyle Busch is 9/2 co-favorite to win 2020 Food city 500 at Bristol

Aiming for Nine

Kyle Busch looks to tie Dale Earnhardt with 9 Bristol Cup wins.
HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina (May 29, 2020) – As the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway for Sunday’s Food City presents the Supermarket Heroes 500, Kyle Busch will have the number nine on his mind.

Busch, driver of the No. 18 Skittles Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), recorded his eighth career Bristol victory in the NASCAR Cup Series last April, extending his margin of most wins there among active drivers. Only his older brother Kurt is close in the number of wins with six victories at the track often called the “Last Great Colosseum”.

Nine Cup Series victories at Bristol would send the younger Busch brother into a tie with some all-time greats of the sport. Dale Earnhardt, Cale Yarborough and Rusty Wallace all ended their careers at the World’s Fastest Half-Mile with nine victories. If Busch was to achieve nine Bristol wins, the next milestone would be Darrell Waltrip’s all-time record of 12 wins at the Tennessee short track.

Busch, the two-time and defending Cup Series champion, holds the distinction of being the only driver in NASCAR history to win all three national series races in a single weekend, which he’s done twice at the .533-mile Bristol bullring. He captured the “Bristol Triple” in 2010 and 2017 when he swept NASCAR’s Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, Xfinity Series, and Cup Series races. In addition to his eight career Cup Series wins, Busch has notched 12 top-fives and 17 top-10s in 29 career starts at Northeast Tennessee’s “Thunder Valley.”

While he is a factor any time he travels to Bristol, it’s interesting to note Busch didn’t immediately take to the place. During his rookie year in 2005, he posted finishes of 28th and 33rd. But his record since then has been impressive, to say the least. After bringing home finishes of eighth and second in 2006, Busch captured his first Bristol Cup Series win in March 2007. The track was resurfaced after that race and, from 2008 to 2011, nobody has been better at the high-banked, concrete oval than Busch. He scored four wins and six top-10s from 2008 until another change to the track surface prior to the August 2012 race weekend. Busch has seemed to recapture the magic from his four years of dominance there as the new racing grooves there have better suited Busch’s driving style over the past several seasons.

So, as Busch and the Skittles team head to Bristol this weekend, they’ll be aiming for nine, as a ninth victory there would put him into the same category as NASCAR Hall of Famers Earnhardt, Yarborough, and Wallace. Impressive company, indeed.

KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 Skittles Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing: 

With no on-track activity before the race at Bristol Sunday, will that give you any sort of advantage, considering your number of wins there?

“I’m not sure it gives me any sort of advantage there, necessarily. Obviously, with the success we’ve had there over the years, I feel really good about going there. But we make a lot of adjustments typically when we get there. We go through practice, we are really fine-tuning a lot of different things and being nitpicky about a bunch of it to make sure we get it to where we want it for the race. Bristol is an important place because, if you are going to run the bottom for a while with that traction compound that’s put down there, as that wears, the groove is definitely going to move up around the top toward the end of the race and you have to be ready for a lot of versatility. So you definitely have to understand some of those adjustments during practice is a big deal and we won’t have that, so we just have to get after it right at the start of the race. I know our guys are up to the task and hope we can have a good Skittles Camry and have it with enough adjustability in it so we can make the right changes and have a shot at the win there.”

You make Bristol look easy at times when it seemed difficult for others. What’s the key to that?

“Bristol is kind of a finicky place. You’re used to running on asphalt every week and so the concrete can throw you for a little bit of a loop. But that place ages and the track changes, there’s some little nuances that change with the racing surface and the line, they’re always changing something. We had the old concrete there and then they went to this progressive style concrete and then they ground the top and then they spread the PJ1 on the bottom, and now you run the bottom but you end up going back to the top at the end the race. It’s just paying attention to days leading up to it, with the Xfinity race or Trucks in the fall and getting your eyes on the track and seeing what it’s doing. We won’t have that luxury now, but we’ll obviously be paying attention to how the race starts and which way track is trending with our Skittles Camry.”

How has the hectic schedule, from going to Darlington twice, Charlotte twice and then to Bristol, been for the team and the drivers from your perspective?

“I think for the teams it’s been a really big deal. For many of the drivers, it’s not been a big deal because they are only running just Xfinity or just Cup races. I’m running all of them, so it’s kind of crazy for me. Going back and forth and being at the track each day. It’s been fun and it’s been unique. It’s been a good opportunity for me to get back in a race vehicle and running laps and getting back to my usual race form as quickly as possible.”

Without practice, do you think it’s going to be more difficult at Bristol than it has been at Darlington and Charlotte?

“I think it is. The way that PJ1 is sprayed down and how and where it’s sprayed down and what the cars do. I’m not sure if there’s a different tire there or not, but any time you have a different tire, it’s a whole new wrench that’s thrown into the plan, as well. During practice, we get to lay some rubber down. So we get to groom the racetrack in before the race and we are not doing that. We are going to have to start cold turkey, so that is going to be quite the interesting moment for all of us.”

What makes Bristol Motor Speedway so unique?

“Bristol Motor Speedway is one of the best racetracks on the circuit. All the fans love it because of the excitement, the run-ins and the close-quarter action with all the cars being packed on top of one another at a half-mile racetrack with us 40 lunatics running around in a tight circle. With the fans, the atmosphere there always makes for a good time and sometimes a frustrating time when things don’t always go your way.”

What is your first memory of Bristol and what is your best story of success?

“I remember my first time. It was in an Xfinity Series car at a test session for Hendrick Motorsports. I remember I needed about 27 laps before I thought I was going to knock the wall down, with all the optimism and pumped-up feelings I had about going there. But after that, it’s been pretty fun. We’ve had some challenging times there, but also I’ve had some good times there. Looking to continue that on Sunday with our Skittles Camry. What’s the highlight? You can’t dismiss the sweeps there. I would say that the first one was really, really awesome and really, really special, and the second one was special, as well.”

Chase Elliott is 9/2 co-favorite to win 2020 Food City at Bristol

Busy week for Chase Elliott.
Driver Chase Elliott on his NASCAR Cup Series win at Charlotte:
“We battled hard and finally got our car good enough there at the end. I’m not sure that we had it exactly perfect, but the guys did a great job making good adjustments and good pit stops there to put us in a position, and I think the race going long played into our favor as compared to what Kevin (Harvick) had to work with. Just had some good fortune and things went our way. Just appreciate all our partners for sticking with us. Finally good to get a Kelley Blue Book win. That’s our first win together, so hopefully many more.”

Elliott on how he feels physically after three races in five days:
“I feel really good. I feel like I tried to stay biking and doing things throughout those two months off, and honestly coming back and going back to Darlington where it was hot and then coming into the 600, it kind of just threw us back right to the wolves, and I think that was really a good thing just to really get some hot races and some long races in right off the bat and just jump right to it. I feel good, and I'm certainly tired, it’s been a long week, but I’m going to rest these next couple days and get ready for Bristol. I am looking forward to going and hopefully having a good run.”

UNSTOPPABLE AT CHARLOTTE: Chase Elliott notched his seventh career NASCAR Cup Series win Thursday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway where he led the final 28 laps on the oval and secured his fifth playoff berth in his fifth full-time season. The 24-year-old Hendrick Motorsports driver became the fourth-youngest in history to record seven Cup victories, which have come on six different racetracks, and the fifth-youngest to record 15 NASCAR national series wins.

MILESTONE WIN: Elliott’s win Thursday night altered NASCAR’s record book. He became the eighth driver to win a Cup Series race for car owner Rick Hendrick on the Charlotte oval, making Hendrick Motorsports the first team in history to field eight different winners at one racetrack. The performance also marked Hendrick Motorsports’ 60th Cup victory at a 1.5-mile venue, extending the team’s all-time record. The Charlotte oval became the third track where Hendrick Motorsports has recorded at least 20 points-paying Cup wins, and the organization is now 10 away from tying Petty Enterprises’ all-time record of 268 victories.

TAKE A BOW: Elliott’s win capped off wild week in which he finished a disappointing second in Sunday’s 600-mile race on the Charlotte oval after leading 38 laps and then won Tuesday night’s Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race at the track. His truck victory with GMS Racing made him the 10th driver in history to win at least three races in each of NASCAR’s three national touring series.

NINE’S A CHARM: On Sunday, Elliott will make his ninth NASCAR Cup Series start at Bristol Motor Speedway in the ninth race of the 2020 season. In his first eight appearances at the 0.533-mile oval, the driver of the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE has collected three top-five finishes, four top-10s and one pole award (April 2019). He also ranks fourth in average finish (11.5) of drivers with more than six Bristol starts since 2014. In addition, Elliott has posted a top-10 finish in all five of his NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at the track.

OUT FRONT AT BRISTOL: In eight Cup-level starts at Bristol, Elliott has led 199 laps. It represents his fourth-highest total of laps led at any track behind only Dover International Speedway (294), Phoenix Raceway (249) and the Charlotte oval (224). Elliott has led laps in six of the eight races run thus far in 2020.

LAST TIME AROUND: In their most recent visit to Bristol in August 2019, Elliott and the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS team collected top-10 results in each stage and led a total of 33 laps en route to a fifth-place finish.

FIRST EIGHT: After eight Cup races in 2020, Elliott is third in the driver standings. He ranks third in laps led (280) and has collected four top-five finishes, five top-10s and one pole award (Phoenix in March). The Dawsonville, Georgia, native holds the third-highest average running position for the season (8.16), and his three stage wins in 2020 are one behind teammate Alex Bowman for the series lead.

BRISTOL KNOW HOW: Primary sponsor NAPA AUTO PARTS will once again be featured on Elliott’s No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway. The familiar blue, white and yellow scheme will be on track for 26 races in 2020. Earlier this year, it was announced that NAPA AUTO PARTS and Hendrick Motorsports will continue their partnership through 2022. Click here to read the full release.

GUSTAFSON HITS 30 AT BMS: On Sunday, No. 9 team crew chief Alan Gustafson will call his 30th NASCAR Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway. In his previous 29 events atop the pit box for five different drivers (Elliott, Kyle Busch, Casey Mears, Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon) at the Tennessee track, he has collected nine top-five finishes, including a win and two runner-up results, and 799 laps led. The win came in 2007 with Busch.

BEHIND THE 9: Gustafson is trying his hand as a host in a new Hendrick Motorsports video series called “Behind the 9” in which he interviews each member of the No. 9 crew. Fans are able to learn about where they came from and the role they serve on the team, with each bringing a unique personality and skillset. Episodes are released every Tuesday on the Hendrick Motorsports Facebook page and YouTube channel. The most recent episode features gas man John Gianninoto.


2020 Season

  • 3rd in standings
  • 8 starts
  • 1 win
  • 1 pole position
  • 4 top-five finishes
  • 5 top-10 finishes
  • 280 laps led 


  • 157 starts
  • 7 wins
  • 9 pole positions
  • 48 top-five finishes
  • 79 top-10 finishes
  • 2,124 laps led

Track Career 

  • 8 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 3 top-five finishes
  • 4 top-10 finishes
  • 199 laps led

Kevin Harvick is 8/1 to win 2020 Food City 500

Another Day, Another Race

KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (May 29, 2020) – Kevin Harvick will compete in his fifth race in 15 days on Sunday, May 31 in the Food City presents the Supermarket Heroes 500 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. That’s a lot of races in 15 days, but not for someone like Harvick.

The driver of the No. 4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) drove in four races in eight days back in 2007.

It was the year of the great rainout at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. Harvick drove in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Michigan on Saturday, Aug. 18 and finished third. The Cup Series race ended up running on Tuesday, Aug. 21 after it was rained out Sunday and Monday.

Harvick then headed south to Bristol for the Xfinity Series race on Friday, Aug. 24 and finished 16th. Finally, on Saturday, Aug. 25, he finished 16th in the Bristol Cup Series race.

He raced a total of 1,055.7 miles during that 2007 stretch. By the end of this past Thursday night’s 500-kilometer race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, he will have driven have driven 1,595.588 miles since the Cup Series resumed its suspended season April 17 with the first of two races at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. And he has another 250 miles coming up Sunday at Bristol.

So while the schedule has been odd, because of Harvick’s experience, he’s sort of been through this before. And he has been successful at Bristol before, as well.

Harvick has two wins, one pole, 12 top-five finishes, 19 top-10s and has led a total of 912 laps in his 38 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Bristol. His average start is 16.7, his average finish is 13.8 and he has a lap-completion rate of 96.7 percent – 18,401 of the 19,027 laps available.

He has competed in 29 NASCAR Xfinity Series races there with five wins, 15 top-fives and 24 top-10 finishes with two pole positions. He has driven in five NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series events at Bristol and has one win and four top-10s. 

Harvick will also have the support of longtime partner Hunt Brothers Pizza at Bristol Sunday.

With more than 7,800 locations in 30 states, Hunt Brothers Pizza is the nation’s largest brand of made-to-order pizza in the convenience store industry. Hunt Brothers Pizza offers original and thin crust pizzas available as a grab-and-go Hunk perfect for today’s on-the-go lifestyle, or as a customizable whole pizza that is an exceptional value with All Toppings No Extra Charge®. Headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, Hunt Brothers Pizza is family owned and operated with more than 25 years of experience serving great pizza to convenience store shoppers through its store partners. To find a Hunt Brothers Pizza location, download the Hunt Brothers Pizza app by visiting

Hunt Brothers Pizza has partnered with Harvick for 11 years and last visited victory lane with him when he won the 2018 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. In 2019, Hunt Brothers moved up to the Cup Series as a primary sponsor for three races and, in 2020, will be on Harvick’s car five times.

Harvick has also won two Truck Series races with Hunt Brothers as a sponsor at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, and at Bristol, both in 2011. The company also sponsored him in the non-points NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte in 2014 and 2015. Harvick finished second in both races.

Harvick is hoping he can heat up at Bristol and score his second victory of 2020. And if he leads just one more lap, he will have led 10,000 laps in his SHR career dating back to 2014.

KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing: 

Is it hard to communicate inside the racecar at Bristol because everything happens so fast?

“It’s definitely loud and hard for the teams to hear. One of the hardest things at Bristol is just to see what’s going on. I have crashed at Bristol and gone back to watch it on TV and you’re like, ‘What in the hell were you doing? You just ran into four or five cars that have been sitting there for two seconds.’ But, Bristol is a very demanding racetrack. It’s very hard because things happen so fast, communication is hard. It’s easy to make a mistake or pile into a wreck. It’s easy to wreck somebody or to get into a fight. It’s easy to do a lot of things because there is just so much happening. It’s a tough place to race, to put it all together, and it’s mentally and physically exhausting.” 

Can you talk about “the bounty” and Chase Elliott defeating Kyle Busch in the Truck Series race last Tuesday?

“I was sitting in my motorhome in Las Vegas and I woke up the next morning after Kyle (Busch) had won and saw a tweet from Kyle Larson that just had two cherries in it, which basically symbolizes cherry picking. When Delana (Harvick) and I used to own truck teams, that used to fly all over me, because I know how much time, effort and money it takes to get those trucks on the racetrack. I know how much work Kyle puts into putting those vehicles on the racetrack and I just thought, ‘What the heck, let’s put some money on the line and see if we can get some of these guys to come out and race in the Truck Series.’ You look at it the other night, with everything that has gone on in our sport with Chase (Elliott) and Kyle, to have them battling it out in the Truck Series and have Marcus Anthony Lemonis jump on board, it just wound up being a lot of fun. I really have a lot of respect for what Kyle Busch does and the effort he puts into putting those racetrucks on track and sometimes I think people forget the art of promoting. Sometimes you have to go out and give a little bit of nudge to create a little bit of excitement. As a fan, I love the Truck Series. I love to watch racing and, as a fan, I sat up with my son the other night watching and wondering what was going to happen. It was fun and exciting and it’s going to end up being a great donation once Chase decides where he wants take that $100,000 for charity during a time when there are so many things bigger than our sport right now. Our sport, once again, is going to step up just like we did during the first iRacing event at Homestead-Miami Speedway to donate some money to charity.”

Aric Almirola is 50/1 to win 2020 Food City 500 at Bristol

The Return of Short-Track Racing

KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (May 29, 2020) – Aric Almirola and the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) continue their return to racing after the COVID-19 postponements with a fan and driver favorite – short-track competition at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. 

Sunday, avid and new fans of the NASCAR Cup Series will get the chance to witness the typically action-packed, 500-lap race that will test the physical and mental stamina of its drivers. 

“Bristol is the ultimate test of physical stamina mixed with finesse of how you position your racecar,” Almirola said. “You’re on the edge of your seat every lap and the slightest mistake can set you back. It helps to be in great shape for races like Bristol when you get toward the end of the long, green-flag run. During the break, I stayed busy with my workout regimen to prepare for races like this with heat training and cycling.”

After four races in 12 days, Almirola and the Smithfield Ford team are excited to mix up the racing styles and get back to short-track racing – something they think the fans will enjoy. 

“NASCAR has done such an incredible job getting us back racing,” Almirola said. “We’re one of the only sports to watch right now and Sunday  will be a prime time for new fans to see what NASCAR is all about. They’re going to see beating and banging the entire race, cars barely holding on, and frustration from a lot of us drivers. I think we’re going to gain a lot of new race fans Sunday and I hope the No. 10 Smithfield car is up front to gain some new fans for ourselves.” 

Almirola’s 2019 outcomes at Bristol were not favorable for the 36-year-old – not of his own fault. After a solid sixth-place qualifying run in the April 2019 Bristol event, Almirola was struck by the No. 24 car and taken out of the race on lap three. Following another solid fifth-place qualifying effort in the August race, Almirola made contact with a lapped car that ultimately led him to finish 18 laps off the pace. 

“Bristol is a track I always look forward to going to,” Almirola said. “We just haven’t had luck on our side the last few races there. I feel confident there, too. We just need some things to go our way to actually finish a solid race.”

Almirola and the Smithfield Ford team have restarted the season with one top-10 and have held their ninth-place position in the standings with 225 points – 106 behind leader Kevin Harvick.

He has one top-five and three top-10s in 20 starts at Bristol since 2007. His best finish there was third in the Food City 500 on March 16, 2004. In addition to his Cup Series experience at Bristol, Almirola has seven NASCAR Xfinity Series starts with four of those resulting in top-10 finishes. 

Almirola will sport the iconic black, white and gold Smithfield Ford Mustang this weekend at Bristol. Smithfield Foods Inc., who will sponsor Almirola’s car at the majority of races this season, is an American food company with agricultural roots and a global reach. Its 40,000 U.S. employees are dedicated to producing “Good Food. Responsibly®,” and have made it one of the world’s leading vertically integrated protein companies.

The starting grid for Sunday’s race was determined Friday by random draw in order of owner points positions. Almirola will start the Food City Presents the Supermarket Heroes 500 from second.
Aric Almirola: Driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

How does Bristol’s track surface change during the race?

“Bristol is one of those places where the track changes throughout the run, especially in the last couple of years, when they put the (traction) compound down on the bottom groove. That has tended to get rubbered up and get really slick as the run moves on and the cars migrate to the top of the racetrack. The top of the racetrack is not very good when it’s clean but, when it starts to rubber up, it actually gains momentum and gets faster, so the groove moves around a lot from run to run and throughout the run, and that makes it fun and it makes it exciting. As a driver, it gives you the option to search around and look for speed.”

Sunday’s race honors Supermarket Heroes. How important is it to recognize these essential workers in the midst of the Coronavirus outbreak? 

“The food workers are every bit as important as the front-line workers. We have to have food to survive as a nation and we have to have medical resources. You can’t have just one or the other. I think it’s so cool that we are acknowledging them this weekend because they are the heartbeat of our nation. We wake up every day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Without them, we don’t have that.”

NASCAR Cup Series Bristol Notes: 2020 Food City 500

Kyle Busch won the eighth time in a Cup race at Bristol.
NASCAR Cup Series
Next Race: Food City presents SUPERMARKET HEROES 500
The Place: Bristol Motor Speedway
The Date: Sunday, May 31
The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 3 p.m. ET
Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 266.5 miles (500 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 125),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 250), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 500)
2019 Race Winner: Kyle Busch

NASCAR Cup Series

"Thunder Valley" welcomes back NASCAR
Less than three days after taking the checkered flag at Charlotte Motor Speedway in a rain delayed event won by Chase Elliott, the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Bristol Motor Speedway for the first short-track race of the season.

The half-mile circuit near the border of Tennessee and Virginia has hosted 118 Cup Series races and 42 different drivers have visited the unusual elevated Victory Lane in the small infield.

Denny Hamlin will be looking to go back-to-back at Bristol after winning the fall race last year. If he wins on Sunday, it would be the 13th different driver to win consecutive races in Thunder Valley. It was most recently done by Kyle Busch (fall 2017 and spring 2018, he also swept the races in 2009) and has been done by two other active drivers (Kurt Busch - 2003 sweep and 2004 spring race; Brad Keselowski - fall 2011-spring 2012).

Hamlin is one of two drivers this season with multiple victories after winning the season opener at Daytona and the second Darlington race. Joey Logano is the other, winning at Las Vegas and Phoenix prior to the stoppage due to the pandemic.

Kevin Harvick is the lone driver this season to finish in the top 10 in each of the opening eight races, with five of those being top-five results.

Chase finally takes the checkered
After a pair of heart-breaking defeats while leading in the final laps of the races at Darlington-2 and Charlotte-1, there were four-leaf clovers in Chase Elliott’s path on Thursday night at Charlotte as he held on to capture his first win of the season in the 312-mile event.

Elliott passed fading Kevin Harvick for the lead on Lap 181 of 208 and cruised to a 2.208-second victory over fast-closing Denny Hamlin, who passed Ryan Blaney for the runner-up position on the final lap.

The win was a welcome relief for the driver of the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, who was wrecked by Kyle Busch while running second May 20 at Darlington and was KO’d by a late caution in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte on Sunday while leading with two laps left.

If you’re wondering if Elliott can win two in a row, he stands a shot at Bristol. He’s finished in the top five in two of the most recent three races there. And finished fourth in his series track debut at Bristol in 2016. He has also completed an impressive 99.3 percent of the laps in the races he’s entered on the tough short track.

Elliott has put together four top-five results in the opening eight races and five top 10s. He’s completed all but nine laps and currently sits in in third in the points standings, 41 points back of the leader Kevin Harvick.

Food City to honor supermarket heroes
The NASCAR Cup Series was originally scheduled to race at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 5, but the pause in racing pushed that event to this Sunday at 3:30 p.m. on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Earlier this week, long-time Bristol Motor Speedway partner Food City announced a new event name to honor the individuals working in the grocery industry throughout the pandemic. The "Food City presents the SUPERMARKET HEROES 500" honors all of the workers from the cashiers, those in the stock room, workers in the fresh departments and the truck drivers who deliver goods.

"Like our counterparts throughout this great nation, our dedicated team of associates have gone above and beyond the call of duty to meet the needs of our customers and the communities we serve," said Steven C. Smith, president and CEO of Food City. "From the extraordinary efforts of our front-line store associates to those working behind the scenes, this is truly a team effort. We're proud to have this opportunity to honor supermarket heroes around the country for their hard work and dedication, as Food City proudly presents the SUPERMARKET HEROES 500."

Food City has been the entitlement partner of the spring race at Bristol since 1992 and this Sunday’s race marks the 60th running of the race.

Busch brothers rule Bristol
Darrell Waltrip tops the all-time wins list at Bristol with 12. Dale Earnhardt, Rusty Wallace and Cale Yarborough trail with nine wins apiece. But the last name that appears the most often on the Bristol Motor Speedway wins list is "Busch."

Kyle Busch (eight wins) and his older brother Kurt (six wins) have combined for 14 wins at Bristol and there’s no reason to think that number couldn’t grow this Sunday in the Food City presents the SUPERMARKET HEROES 500.

Kyle’s mark leads active drivers in wins, while Kurt is second in that group. The next closest among drivers on Sunday’s entry list is Matt Kenseth’s four wins, while Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski, and Joey Logano have two apiece.

And the Busch brothers have combined to win four of the last five races at the half-mile track. Kyle is the most recent Busch to post a win, capturing the victory in the spring race a year ago. Kurt preceded him the fall before.

Overall in 38 starts, Kurt has the six wins, 12 top fives, 20 top 10s and has led 1,095 laps at Bristol. Kyle has the eight wins as part of 12 top fives, 17 top 10s and led 2,334 laps in 29 starts.

And the next best at Bristol
While the Busch brothers have ruled Bristol amongst the active drivers, Matt Kenseth isn’t too far behind with four wins in Thunder Valley.

The driver of the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet last won at Bristol in the spring of 2015 – and it was the only of his four wins that came in the spring race.

Almost as remarkable as his wins is that he’s completed nearly 95 percent of the laps in the 36 starts he has made at Bristol – crashing out in only four of those races. Impressive at the short track known for beating and banging.

Kenseth’s last races at Bristol came in 2017, when he finished fourth in both races. He’s led 1,583 laps and posted 15 top-five and 22 top-10 finishes.

Five other active drivers have two wins at the track - Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski, and Joey Logano. Hamlin is the most recent winner at Bristol, having won last fall.

Prior to Hamlin, the Busch brothers ran off four wins between them. Johnson won in the spring race in 2017, Logano won most recently in the fall of 2015, and Keselowski has the longest gap since his wins – which were back-to-back in the fall of 2011 and the spring of 2012.

Wood he, could he?
The storied Wood Brothers Racing team has been stuck at 99 wins since Ryan Blaney piloted the No. 21 Ford to Victory Lane at Pocono in 2017.

But this weekend could be the race in which they get that hundredth win with Matt DiBenedetto, who will be making only his ninth start for the team. And if he does reach Victory Lane, he would be the 19th different driver to win for the Woods.

Last fall, then driving for Leavine Family Racing, DiBenedetto came oh-so-close to capturing his first career win at the Bristol short track. Late in the race, he lost a large lead he had on Denny Hamlin while trying to put Ryan Newman a lap down. After DiBenedetto led a race-high 93 laps, Hamlin caught him with a dozen laps to go and held on for the lead.

The emotional second-place result for DiBenedetto was a career-best finish – matched earlier this season at Las Vegas with his new team.

DiBenedetto also scored a top-10 finish at Bristol in 2016 while driving for BK Racing, placing sixth in the spring race.

And Wood Brothers Racing has a history of bringing a driver to his first career win at Bristol. In the spring race in 2001, Elliott Sadler won his first NASCAR Cup Series race. He started 38th, the deepest in the field that a race winner has started from at Bristol.

Team Penske putting the pedal to the metal
Just eight races into the season Team Penske is showing they are a force to be reckoned with. After an off-season crew chief shakeup that saw Paul Wolfe move from working with Brad Keselowski to Joey Logano, Todd Gordon go from Logano to Ryan Blaney, and Jeremy Bullins move from Blaney to Keselowski the Ford organization is showing its strength.

Logano is tied atop the wins list with Denny Hamlin with two – taking a pair of wins on the west coast swing at Las Vegas and Phoenix, while Keselowski won the Coca-Cola 600 last weekend. And Logano is also near the top of the points, sitting second, 14 points behind the leader Kevin Harvick.

Logano also has a sixth-place finish at the second Darlington race and Keselowski finished fifth at Auto Club and fourth at Darlington to put together three top fives thus far in 2020. Keselowski is fifth in the points

And while Blaney finished second in the season-opening Daytona 500 and third in the Coca-Cola 600. He also put together an 11th-place finish in Las Vegas and is holding on to a solid sixth place in the points standings.

In the second of the races on the Charlotte oval this week, Blaney recorded his second straight third-place finish, while Logano and Keselowski were sixth and seventh, respectively.

As Blaney looks to join his Team Penske colleagues in the winner’s circle, Bristol could be the place that gives him a shot. Blaney has been solid at Bristol as of late, with three straight top-10 finishes in the last three races, including a finish of fourth in the spring race a year ago. He also had an 11th-place and a 10th-place result in the spring of 2016 and fall of 2017.

Champs spring from Bristol
In the past 20 years, four drivers have won the spring Bristol race en route to the season-ending championship. No drivers have won the fall race as part of their title run in that time.

And all four of the drivers are still racing fulltime in 2020.

The most recent driver to accomplish the feat was Kyle Busch, who did it on his way to winning his second NASCAR Cup Series championship. And it’s been well documented that Kyle Busch has the most wins at Bristol among active drivers – five of his eight wins have come in the early-season event at the half-mile track.

Brad Keselowski won the spring race in 2012, then racing a Dodge for Team Penske, and Jimmie Johnson won the fifth of five consecutive championships after winning the spring race in 2010.

Kurt Busch also accomplished the feat, winning the 2004 spring Bristol race before hoisting the series title trophy in the fall.

Sunoco Rookie watch
Through eight races, Tyler Reddick has taken a solid lead in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings. The young Richard Childress Racing driver has a pair of top 10s (seventh at Darlington-1 and eighth at Charlotte-1) and 185 points.

Next up on the list is John Hunter Nemechek, who climbed into second in the rookie standings after the second Charlotte race with a total of 141 points.  He was the highest-finishing rookie, placing 13th.

Cole Custer, who posted his first career top-10 finish in the Cup Series at Phoenix before the stoppage in racing action, finished 18th at Charlotte-2 and dropped a spot in the rookie standings. He’s in third, three points behind Nemechek.