NASCAR: Hamlin on the pole at Bristol for Sunday
NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway, the Food City 500 set for Sunday could be washed out. As of now the forecast calls for a steady rain that will last at least six to eight hours on Sunday and that does not bode well for the race being run.
Meanwhile, they did get quailing completed and here is the field with some insights from our friends at Sporting News.
1. Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota — Rivalry with Joey Logano ignited at Bristol a year ago, followed a week later by their tussle at California and Hamlin’s injury. He was inconsistent and disappointing after injury last year, and it’s continued so far this season. Yeah, he’s still bitter about last year but won’t take it out Sunday.
2. Brad Keselowski, Team Penske No. 2 Ford — Hasn’t had to hear crap all week about how he isn’t in line to make the Chase this year. He’s having fun, and when he’s having fun, watch out.
3. Matt Kenseth, Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota — With rain on the way, says his wife might need to hold off until Tuesday to have their baby. Hopes to have a fourth Bristol trophy by then.
4. Joey Logano, Team Penske No. 22 Ford — Has been fast every week and is becoming a consistent threat to win. Probably will have a better shot next week at California than this weekend at Bristol.
5. Marcos Ambrose, Richard Petty Motorsports No. 9 Ford — Finished third in 2009 and has five top-10s in 10 races at Bristol. He could be a fantasy sleeper. Make that was a fantasy sleeper, since he’s starting fifth.
6. Jeff Gordon, Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet — Hasn’t won at Bristol since 2002. Don’t count him out Sunday.
7. Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota — One of the favorites. His backup car appears just as strong as his primary was.
8. Greg Biffle, Roush Fenway Racing No. 16 Ford — Not known for his short-track prowess, but he recovered nicely from a crash in practice Friday. Ironically, starting next to Busch, who also is in a backup car.
9. Ryan Newman, Richard Childress Racing No. 31 Chevrolet — Off to a good start with new RCR team. Seems suited for Bristol, but has never won there.
10. Kasey Kahne, Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 Chevrolet — Maybe could have won this race last year but declined to use his bumper on Matt Kenseth to win in the fall. Wonder if he’ll be nice this time around if put in same position.
11. Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet — Said he doesn’t setting up a driver to wreck him to do the bump-and-run takes him less time than trying to pass cleanly. Might be why he hasn’t won more at Bristol.
12. Carl Edwards, Roush Fenway Racing No. 99 Ford — Produced one of Bristol’s most memorable moments when he used the bump-and-run on Kyle Busch. Tougher to do now. And questionable whether he’ll be able to catch Busch anyway.
13. Kurt Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 Chevrolet — Best in class of the SHR stable. By far. He’s trying to win at Bristol with his third different team.
14. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 Chevrolet — Off to a great start, but the jury is still out on whether or not he is for real. Bristol will be another big test.
15. Clint Bowyer, Michael Waltrip Racing No. 15 Toyota — Bowyer loves short-track racing but has never won a Cup race at Bristol. He led 50 laps there in August but finished 14th.
16. David Gilliland, Front Row Motorsports No. 38 Ford — Great starting spot for Gilliland. But Gilliland has started in the top-20 six times in his career at Bristol and finished top-20 just twice.
17. Jamie McMurray, Chip Ganassi Racing No. 1 Chevrolet — Disappointed at Las Vegas, could be sneaky fast at Bristol. He has five top-10 finishes in his last eight starts at BMS.
18. Cole Whitt, Swan Racing No. 26 Toyota — At 30th in the standings, he’s still a surprise of the season. He’s making races and not having to sweat about it.
19. David Ragan, Front Row Motorsports No. 34 Ford — Should be surprised he’s starting 19th. He started 17th and finished 12th at Bristol last August.
20. Kyle Larson, Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 Chevrolet — Rookie nearly won Nationwide race at Bristol last year. He will be exciting to watch — one way or the other.
21. Ricky Stenhosue Jr., Roush Fenway Racing No. 17 Ford — His girlfriend wrecked her car (and Stenhouse had a teammate wreck one, too) during practice while he only scraped his. Not where he wants to start, and expect his car to have at least more scrapes as he tries to muscle his way through the field.
22. AJ Allmendinger, JTG Daugherty Racing No. 47 Toyota — Still looking for his first top-10 at Bristol.
23. Aric Almirola, Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 Ford — Has failed to finish three of his last five starts at Bristol. Will need to be patient Sunday.
24. Michael McDowell, Leavine Family Racing No. 95 Ford — Ran just 141 laps last week at Las Vegas. Hopes to last a little longer this week.
25. Casey Mears, Germain Racing No. 13 Chevrolet — Off to a solid start (17th in points) but that could change in a flash at Bristol.
26. Austin Dillon, Richard Childress Racing No. 3 Chevrolet — His No. 3 brings back a lot of memories at Bristol. He’ll have to wreak havoc to do it justice. He’d probably prefer a more quiet day and a respectable finish.
27. Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 Chevrolet — This weekend could test just how well SHR can troubleshoot as an organizaiton.
28. Paul Menard, Richard Childress Racing No. 27 Chevrolet — One of just two drivers with four straight top-10s at Bristol. He hopes to race but will have Matt Crafton on standby in case wife goes into labor.
29. Martin Truex Jr., Furniture Row Racing No. 78 Chevrolet — Had a decent run at Las Vegas (14th) but needs another one to climb from 25th in points.
30. Justin Allgaier, HScott Motorsports No. 51 Chevrolet — Slammed the wall and crashed in practice, but at least he didn’t take Danica out with him and earn another tongue-lashing. Better yet, he never got a lap on his backup car until qualifying and put up a respectable speed.
31. Landon Cassill, Hillman Racing No. 40 Chevrolet — After two disappointing races where he didn’t qualify, he gets in on speed. Ironically, would have gotten a provisional this week if he needed one thanks to Daytona 500 finish and switch to 2014 owners points to determine final spots.
32. Josh Wise, Phil Parsons Racing No. 98 Chevrolet — One of the drivers doing double duty this weekend.
33. Alex Bowman, BK Racing No. 23 Toyota — Still learning and getting in on speed without use of a provisional is a good sign for him.
34. Michael Annett, Tommy Baldwin Racing No. 7 Chevrolet — Beat five of the seven other rookies last week.
35. Reed Sorenson, Tommy Baldwin Racing No. 36 Chevrolet — The two TBR cars qualified next to each other. Probably not a coincidence.
36. Danica Patrick, Stewart-Haas Racing No. 10 Chevrolet — Still hasn’t figured out Bristol. She wrecked on the fourth lap of practice. She has been a magnet for wrecks this year, and that could continue Sunday.
37. Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 Chevrolet — Stewart has finished 27th and 31st in his last two Bristol races and has an average finish of 24.3 in his last six. The odds of improving on that with a broken leg aren’t good, especially when needing a provisional for the first time in a long time.
38. Brian Vickers, Michael Waltrip Racing No. 55 Toyota — Had an encouraging run at Las Vegas (13th), but probably not all that encouraged about where he’s starting Sunday.
39. Travis Kvapil, Go FAS Racing No. 32 Ford — Just needs to keep car out of trouble and have decent run.
40. Ryan Truex, BK Racing No. 83 Toyota — Really needs a good run to boost his spot in owner points at 44th. This could be one of his best tracks to do that.
41. Parker Kligerman, Swan Racing No. 30 Toyota — Talented young driver can’t buy a break. Got slammed in the door by Danica Patrick before he completed his first lap at Bristol.
42. Joe Nemechek, Identity Ventures Racing No. 66 Toyota — Isn’t fielding the No. 87 car this week after his other team missed a couple of races.
43. Timmy Hill, CircleSport Racing No. 33 Chevrolet — Nowhere to go but up.