NASCAR '09: Bristol preview
After a week off, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series gets back into action this weekend at the popular Bristol Motor Speedway. Sunday's Food City 500 is a race fan's dream, but a fantasy player's nightmare. The "World's Fastest Half Mile" provides fans with close racing all around the track, plenty of bumping and grinding and door-to-door excitement. But that excitement also keeps fantasy owners on the edge of their seats, hoping that it's not their driver who innocently gets caught up in someone else's mess.
Selecting your team for Bristol is like purchasing a home; it's all about location, location, location. Since 1972, only 14 race winners at Bristol have come from a starting position outside the top 10, the last driver to do it was Kyle Busch in the Spring of 2007. Plus a good qualifying run will give teams a chance to make a better pit selection, something that could determine the outcome of the race as drivers try to maneuver the close confines of pit road.
Add to the mix that Bristol is the fifth and final race where the 2008 owner points will be used to guarantee positions. That means there will be plenty of drivers hovering just above and below the top 35 cutoff that will be doing all they can to make sure they are on the right side of the bubble when they arrive at Martinsville next week. Plus we can't forget there are several big name drivers looking to break either long running winless streaks or to right the ship after a tough start to '09.
Put all of that together and Sunday can be either a recipe for a success or disaster. To help you navigate the risky waters, we've put together a list of favorites, sleepers and longshots.