43 drivers will dare to accept the challenge of conquering the majestic concrete palace known as Thunder Valley
The coliseum of racing will host the most exciting race on the Sprint Cup schedule this Saturday night. Its formal name, the Bristol Motor Speedway, is the site of this years’ Irwin Tools night race. The Sprint Cup Series makes two stops to Bristol every year, but the night race is one that every race fan should plan on watching year in and year out. The high banked half mile short track has the gained a reputation for wreaking absolute havoc on all 43 drivers who dare accept the challenge of conquering this majestic concrete palace. I have witnessed the excellence of Bristol racing live three times from 2003-2005 and can say it is easily one of the best sports experiences I have ever had.
Bristol is one of the toughest races on the Sprint Cup Schedule to win. Only some of the very best can say they have won at Bristol. Taking a look at the standings this year, of the top 10 drivers, only two have not won at Bristol (Clint Bowyer, Greg Biffle). On the other hand, there are three drivers who can claim the title “Short Track Kings”, who have won at this track a total of five times each and those drivers would be the Busch brothers of Kurt and Kyle and Jeff Gordon.
In watching this race this weekend, here are a few drivers that I think you should keep an eye on to win or at the very least knock down a top 5 finish at Thunder Valley:
Barring a wreck or some sort of team error, Kurt Busch will be heavily talked about throughout Saturday night’s broadcast. A lot of that will have to do with the rumor that Stewart Haas Racing has offered him a contract for next season at the very least. But as I mentioned earlier, Kurt has five wins at this place and knows how to get around Bristol. Coming off great finishes at Watkins Glen and Michigan, Kurt’s team is riding a mini wave of momentum into thunder valley and could very well be in the mix for that much coveted win when all is said and done.
Another driver who loves these short track races is Matt Kenseth. Growing up on Wisconsin short tracks has given Kenseth an upper hand when it comes to racing these tracks on NASCAR’s elite level. Kenseth boasts a 99.9 driver rating here at Bristol, which is third best behind teammate Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon. I watched Kenseth turn his season around back in 2005 where he flat out dominated this race and broke into the top 10 just as the regular season was winding down. Kenseth was in contention for the win at the spring race this year before he was caught up in a wreck while chasing down leader Jeff Gordon. Look for Matt Kenseth to make a resurgence starting this week at Bristol!
For Gordon, Bristol could not come at a better time. Jeff is on the outside looking in and clinging to the hopes of entering the chase as a wildcard. With zero victories on the season, Jeff desperately needs to win this weekend at Bristol. Not only to close the gap on the top 10, but to also be in the wildcard mix if he does not get a win in the next three races. Gordon led 66 laps before cutting a tire and ruining his shot at victory in the spring race. Time is running out for Gordon and he absolutely needs to win at one of his most successful tracks!
There will without a doubt be plenty of storylines coming out of Bristol. Who will get in one of the many wrecks that are sure to happen throughout the night? Who will use a bump and run to win the race as we have seen so many times in the past? And how will the points shape up when all is said and done? This is one race that you do not want to miss!!