Idriver Handicaps:/I Bristol

This weekend the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series heads back to Bristol Motor Speedway for the running of the Sharpie 500. As a preview to the event, RacingOne brings you our weekly detailed look at some of the field, including staff picks, stats, notes and driver's quotes for the 500-lap event.

Who's HOT at Bristol
  • Spring winner Kevin Harvick has the best finishing average (8.5) among all active drivers with two or more starts. He also won the Busch race in April.
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. won this event last year and finished fourth in the spring. He became the first driver to win both the Cup and Busch races in one weekend at Bristol last August.
  • Although he hasn't visited Victory Lane at Bristol since 2000, Rusty Wallace, the active leader in wins (9) at BMS had a contending car in the spring until he cut right front tire. He led 157 laps in that race, and has led in the last three races for a combined total of 336.
  • Over the last ten races, Jeff Gordon has led the most laps at Bristol with 1,067. His last of five wins at BMS came in this event in 2002. For fantasy games that give qualifying points - Gordon has the best starting average at 4.8.
  • Kurt Busch has won four of the last seven races at Bristol and has led a total of 490 laps.

    Who's NOT
  • Dodge's last win at Bristol came with Richard Petty in 1975.
  • Carl Edwards' best finish in the Cup Series in two starts was a 26th in April. Maybe some more practice on the computer will improve that statistic.
  • Robby Gordon failed to qualify for the spring race. His best finish of 12th came in this event last season with Richard Childress Racing.

    Who's HOT as of late
  • Tony Stewart has now captured nine finishes of seventh or better in the last nine races, including five wins. He finished third in this event last season, his first top 10 since his 2001 victory in this event.
  • Brian Vickers' three consecutive top-10 finishes have helped him score the second-most points, behind Tony Stewart, over the last six races.
  • Jeremy Mayfield, last week's winner, has scored two top-five finishes in the last three races.
  • Joe Nemechek has captured one pole and two top-10 finishes in the last two races.

    Who's NOT
  • Elliott Sadler, who at one time held the third spot in the standings, has fallen down to 13th, with finishes of 12th or worse in the last seven races. However, Sadler has scored two consecutive top-five finishes at Bristol. His finishing average of 22.0 is the worst among all drivers that have had at least one win at Bristol since 1998.
  • Jeff Burton's last top-10 finish was at Talladega, 14 races ago. However, he did finish fourth in the Sharpie 500 last year.
  • Bobby Labonte has dropped 15 positions in the standings in comparison to where he stood last season at this time.

    Who Else to Watch
  • Matt Kenseth has finished in the top 10 in six of the last seven events at Bristol.
  • Michael Waltrip will be in the same chassis that Dale Earnhardt Jr. won this event with last year.
  • Ryan Newman scored a career-best second last year in the Sharpie 500 to keep his "Chase for the Cup" chances alive.
  • Although he hasn't finished in the top 10 in his last nine races at Bristol, Mark Martin will be looking for his third Bristol win, in what could be his last Cup start at BMS.
  • 1997 winner Dale Jarrett is in striking distance of Jamie McMurray for the 10th slot in the standings.

    1. Tony Stewart
    Points: 3268
    Avg. Start: 13.9
    Avg. Finish: 17.2

    In 13 Bristol starts, Stewart has one victory and four top-five finishes. Stewart scored his best finish of 15th or better, since his August 2001 victory, in April when he placed third. The last time Stewart led one of his 583 laps at the .533-mile speedway was in the 2004 spring race when he led 25 laps. The Home Depot team will bring chassis No. 68 to the track this weekend. This car has started four Bristol races, including the last three.

    Quotable: "You just don't have time to relax. Everything happens so fast. At the end of the day when the race is done and your adrenaline wears off, you're worn out. But when you're in the car and the adrenaline's pumping, you don't get in that smooth, calm rhythm that you do at a place like Michigan or California where you've got big, sweeping corners and long straightaways."

    2. Jimmie Johnson
    Points: 3142
    Avg. Start: 20.0
    Avg. Finish: 11.3

    In seven races at Bristol Motor Speedway, Johnson has captured five top-10 finishes. He finished third there last August, his best Bristol finish. Johnson has led at least one lap in the last three races at BMS for a combined total of 29 laps. The primary car (chassis No. 48170) Johnson will drive is the same car that finished sixth at BMS in April and swept Dover in 2002.

    Quotable: "Having a spot clinched going to Bristol is going to make that race a lot more enjoyable."

    3. Greg Biffle
    Points: 3016
    Avg. Start: 14.4
    Avg. Finish: 11.8

    Biffle has five races under his belt at Bristol with his best finish, of fifth, coming in his first series start at the track (3/23/2003). In April, he led at Bristol for the second time in his career, when he paced the field for 91 laps en route to a ninth-place finish. Last year, Biffle qualified a career-high third in the spring event and led 58 laps. He will drive chassis No. RK-299, which is the same car that finished 17th at Pocono in July.

    Quotable: "Bristol under the lights is incredible. It's a great race for the fans and it's a fun race as a driver."

    4. Rusty Wallace
    Points: 2979
    Avg. Start: 7.9
    Avg. Finish: 9.7

    Wallace posted his first career Cup Series victory at Bristol on April 6, 1986. In his 38 races at Bristol since, he has captured eight more wins, giving him the most wins among active drivers at the half-mile track. Wallace also leads all active drivers for most laps led at Bristol with 3,734, and has led at least one lap in 28 of 43 races. He will drive the same car (chassis PRS-090) that started third and led 157 laps before cutting a right front tire. The No. 2 will sport a special flame paint scheme for Rusty's last ride at Bristol.

    Quotable: "We certainly want to go out on top of our game at Bristol with a strong run and I think we’re primed to come in there and do just that."

    5. Mark Martin
    Points: 2899
    Avg. Start: 10.5
    Avg. Finish: 12.5

    Martin is tied with Rusty Wallace for most poles among active drivers at Bristol with seven. His two victories at the half-mile track came from the pole in the second Bristol event in 1993 and 1998. Martin has captured 20 top 10s and 15 top fives at BMS. He will drive the same car (chassis RK-174) that finished third at Martinsville. The car was also tested at BMS a couple weeks ago.

    Quotable: "I've always said it is like flying a jet fighter around the inside of a basketball arena, and try that with 42 other jets doing it at the same time."

    6. Jeremy Mayfield
    Points: 2869
    Avg. Start: 21.8
    Avg. Finish: 18.7

    Mayfield comes to Bristol Motor Speedway fresh off his first win of the season last week in Michigan. On the .533-mile oval, Mayfield posted a best finish of third in the spring race in 2001 after starting 30th. He has led in three races for a total of 352 laps and has posted two top-fives and five top-10s in 21 starts. He'll be driving chassis No. 112, which he drove in the spring race to a 17th-place finish.

    Quotable: "It (Bristol) has its plusses and minuses on bad things happening, but you've just got to go into like we've been going. We go as hard as we can and try to get as many points as we can and try to win the race."

    7. Kurt Busch
    Points: 2848
    Avg. Start: 19.7
    Avg. Finish: 13.3

    In April, Busch was caught-up in an accident at Bristol Motor Speedway, which ended his shot at his fifth win and fourth-straight in the spring. He finished 35th and was scored his second DNF at Bristol since his first race at the track in 2001 when he finished 42nd. With the exception of this year's race, Busch has not finished lower than eighth since his first win in 2002. He will be behind the wheel of the same car (chassis No. 66) that finished ninth at Dover in June. The No. 97 will carry a paint scheme featuring the new Sharpie Mini.

    Quotable: "I'm really proud of what the No. 97 Sharpie team has accomplished at Bristol over the last few years, and I'm looking forward to getting back out on the track and seeing if we can win another one."

    8. Ryan Newman
    Points: 2773
    Avg. Start: 5.9
    Avg. Finish: 20.0

    Ryan Newman currently holds the qualifying record at Bristol with a fast lap of 128.709 mph. To go along with two BMS poles, Newman collected three-straight top 10s from August 2003 - 2004. He scored his best finish of second last August at Bristol. Team Alltel will bring Newman's favorite car, nicknamed "Popeye", to the track this weekend. This chassis (PRS-41) went to Victory Lane four times in 2003. Newman, who has led twice at Bristol for a total of 55 laps, will also enter the Busch race where he will be seeking his third consecutive win.

    Quotable: "Just like last season, Bristol will be the race that makes it or breaks it for a lot of teams, as far as getting into the 'chase' is involved. We went into last year's race with that mentality and came out with our best ever finish there. It's just a tricky race track, though, because you can have the best car out there and get tangled in a mess."

    9. Carl Edwards
    Points: 2758
    Avg. Start: 33.5
    Avg. Finish: 29.5

    Edwards made his second career NEXTEL Cup start, his first at Bristol, in this event last season where he finished with a DNF in the 33rd position. In April, Edwards had to start 42nd after crashing his No. 99 Ford on his warm-up lap in qualifying. In the race he went on to score his best finish of 26th. Edwards has one Truck Series win at the .533-mile track, after he came from the back of the field to survive a green-white-checkered finish last year. The same car that was damaged in qualifying (chassis RK-281) will return to the track this weekend.

    Quotable: "It's hard to believe I've been in the NEXTEL Cup Series for a year and I already have two wins and am looking at the possibility of competing for the championship."

    10. Jamie McMurray
    Points: 2702
    Avg. Start: 17.0
    Avg. Finish: 10.6

    In April, McMurray posted his first finish outside the top 11 in five starts at Bristol Motor Speedway when he finished 24th. McMurray's best finishes (third and seventh) at BMS have come in both of his starts in the Sharpie 500. He will pilot a car (chassis No. 403) that has finished in the top-10 on four occasions this season, with its best finish (second) coming at Texas.

    Quotable: "We've run well at Bristol in the past and we had a strong test there just a couple of weeks ago. We're taking one of my favorite cars and I'm counting on it to run good this weekend. I know the guys will do a great job getting it race ready, so from there is just making smart decisions on the track and on pit road."

    11. Dale Jarrett
    Points: 2651
    Avg. Start: 19.1
    Avg. Finish: 15.6

    Jarrett's one win at Bristol Motor Speedway in 1998 came in the middle of nine consecutive finishes of sixth or better. His worst finish at BMS, 38th in this event in 1999, ended that streak. Since then, he has captured five top 10s of his track total of 19. Jarrett will be behind the wheel of chassis No. 40 for the second time. He finished sixth in this car in the 2004 fall race at Lowe's Motor Speedway in its debut.

    12. Jeff Gordon
    Points: 2644
    Avg. Start: 4.8
    Avg. Finish: 11.9

    Gordon has five career victories, including four-straight spring wins from 1995 - 1998, and a stellar starting average of 4.8 in 25 starts at Bristol Motor Speedway. He has started outside the top-eight only three times and his four poles at Bristol have come in the last seven races. Gordon has led the most laps seven times and an overall total of 2,358 at BMS.

    13. Elliott Sadler
    Points: 2636
    Avg. Start: 18.2
    Avg. Finish: 22.0

    Sadler captured his first NEXTEL Cup Series win at Bristol Motor Speedway in March 2001 after starting from the 38th position, the furthest back of any driver at the half-mile track. In April, he captured his first pole at Bristol with a lap of 127.733 mph. He went out to finish second for his fourth top 10, and second consecutive top five.

    14. Kevin Harvick
    Points: 2620
    Avg. Start: 17.1
    Avg. Finish: 8.6

    Harvick finally reached Victory Lane at Bristol Motor Speedway in April after finishing second on two occasions in the August 2001 and 2003 races. His average finish ranks No. 1 among all active drivers that have started two or more races. In nine races, Harvick has posted one win, seven top 10s and has led 338 laps. This weekend, Harvick will be carrying primary sponsorship from his Busch Series sponsor, Reese's, in the Cup race.

    15. Matt Kenseth
    Points: 2598
    Avg. Start: 21.8
    Avg. Finish: 13.2

    Kenseth will be driving the same car (chassis No. 10) this weekend that posted three top-five's and one top-10 in the last five races at Bristol. Kenseth, who has finished in the top 10 at BMS from the 2002 spring race through last year's August event, has led in four races at the .533-speedway, including 50 laps this past April.

    16. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
    Points: 2544
    Avg. Start: 15.1
    Avg. Finish: 13.8

    Earnhardt Jr. dominated the Bristol race last August, leading 295 of 500 laps en route to his first victory at the track. That weekend he also became the first driver to sweep the Busch and Cup events at the .533-mile speedway. Since 2002, Junior has scored four top fives and has finished 16th or better. He finished fourth in April and has led a total of 707 laps in 11 career starts.

    17. Joe Nemechek
    Points: 2533
    Avg. Start: 25.3
    Avg. Finish: 28.9

    Nemechek has posted a best finish of 16th twice in 21 races at Bristol Motor Speedway, most recently in this event in 1995.

    18. Brian Vickers
    Points: 2487
    Avg. Start: 18.0
    Avg. Finish: 22.3

    Vickers has been the hottest driver that has not reached Victory Lane over the past month. His three consecutive top-10 finishes have helped him score the second-most points, behind Tony Stewart, over the last six races. This year Vickers notched his best finish (12th) in three starts at Bristol Motor Speedway. Over the past two weeks, Vickers has been testing at BMS and Richmond. His No. 25 will carry the Cartoon Network and Scooby-Doo this weekend.

    19. Kasey Kahne
    Points: 2405
    Avg. Start: 5.3
    Avg. Finish: 25.0

    Kahne has started inside the top 10 at Bristol Motor Speedway in all three of his starts there. His best finish there was 14th earlier this year. He'll be driving the same car (chassis No. 110) from that race in the spring.

    20. Michael Waltrip
    Points: 2364
    Avg. Start: 21.5
    Avg. Finish: 19.0

    Waltrip has eight top-10s in 39 starts at Bristol. His best finish of fifth came on April 10, 1994, when he drove the No. 30 Pennzoil Pontiac. In April, Waltrip finished 19th and led (19 laps) for the eighth time in his career at BMS. Waltrip, who tested last Tuesday at Bristol, will be driving the same car (chassis No. 006) Dale Earnhardt Jr. drove to victory last August.

    21. Jeff Burton
    Points: 2359
    Avg. Start: 24.0
    Avg. Finish: 19.7

    In 23 starts at Bristol Motor Speedway, Burton has captured five top-five and eight top-10 finishes and had led a total of 55 laps. He will be driving chassis No. 132 for the fourth time this season. This car finished a best 12th at Dover.

    22. Kyle Busch
    Points: 2329
    Avg. Start: 39.0
    Avg. Finish: 28.0

    Busch started 39th and finished 28th in his first NEXTEL Cup Series start at Bristol Motor Speedway in April. He will be pulling triple duty starting on Wednesday, running his first Truck Series race and then his third Busch Series event on Friday at BMS. Last year he scored a pair of third-place finishes in the Busch Series races. His primary chassis (No. 251) is the same car that he won the pole with at California in February. His car will adorn the Cartoon Network featuring the character Johnny Bravo.

    23. Casey Mears
    Points: 2217
    Avg. Start: 31.4
    Avg. Finish: 32.4

    Mears has posted DNFs in the last two races at Bristol Motor Speedway. His best finish (23rd) in five starts came in this event in 2003.

    24. Bobby Labonte
    Points: 2209
    Avg. Start: 17.5
    Avg. Finish: 19.2

    In his 26th start at Bristol Motor Speedway, Labonte will feature a special POWERade paint scheme with NBA player Lebron James on the hood of his car (chassis No. 74). This car was raced at the track in the spring where it was involved in an accident when Labonte was running seventh on lap 332. His most successful finish at the track was third in March of 2003. In total, Labonte has posted two top-fives and eight top-10s on the .533-mile track.

    25. Ricky Rudd
    Points: 2169
    Avg. Start: 13.5
    Avg. Finish: 14.7

    Rudd is the all-time leader in starts at Bristol Motor Speedway with 55. He is second among active drivers in top 10s, with 30, and is third in top fives, with 15.

    26. Scott Riggs
    Points: 2115
    Avg. Start: 31.7
    Avg. Finish: 20.3

    Riggs is coming off his career-best NEXTEL Cup finish with his second-place run at Michigan. This year he scored a personal best at Bristol Motor Speedway when he finished 10th in his third start at the track.

    27. Sterling Marlin
    Points: 2076
    Avg. Start: 16.8
    Avg. Finish: 14.1

    Marlin has 41 career starts at Bristol Motor Speedway and has posted three top fives and 18 top 10s. His best finish of second came on August 24, 1991. In 2004, Marlin was able to lead 72 of his 363 career laps led at BMS in the spring race, after the team used pit strategy on lap 202. He went on to finish fourth and sixth in the August event. In April he started 15th and finished 11th.

    29. Ken Schrader
    Points: 2051
    Avg. Start: 17.1
    Avg. Finish: 17.7

    Schrader has competed in 41 races at Bristol Motor Speedway and has captured four top fives and 11 top 10s. His best finish, of second, came in the spring race in 1994. He has led four races, last being in 1998, for a combined 52 laps.

    33. Scott Wimmer
    Points: 1911
    Avg. Start: 29.0
    Avg. Finish: 28.0

    Wimmer's best finish to date at Bristol Motor Speedway was a 13th in the 2004 spring race. Last year he finished 36th in this event.

    34. Travis Kvapil
    Points: 1816
    Avg. Start: 5.0
    Avg. Finish: 7.0

    Kvapil will be in the same car (chassis PRS-034) that he drove to his best finish (seventh), and only top 10, of the season at Bristol Motor Speedway in April.

    37. Robby Gordon
    Points: 1425
    Avg. Start: 23.7
    Avg. Finish: 26.6

    Gordon has yet to finish inside the top 10 at Bristol Motor Speedway in nine starts. His best finish of 12th came in this event last season with Richard Childress Racing. He was one of six drivers that failed to qualify for the spring race this season.

    40. Terry Labonte
    Points: 712
    Avg. Start: 13.1
    Avg. Finish: 11.7

    Labonte has competed in 53 races at Bristol Motor Speedway capturing two wins, last in this event in 1995, and 19 top-five finishes. His 33 top 10s currently leads all active drivers. Labonte has led in 17 races at BMS for a total of 807 laps.

    RacingOne Staff Picks:

    Pete Pistone: Kurt Busch
    Rick Benjamin: Tony Stewart
    Ron Lemasters: Rusty Wallace
    Jeff Wackerlin: Jeff Gordon

    Jeff (Greg Biffle-California, Kevin Harvick-Bristol, Jeff Gordon-Martinsville, Tony Stewart-Daytona)
    Rick (Jeff Gordon-Talladega, Greg Biffle-Michigan)
    Ron (Tony Stewart-Infineon, Tony Stewart-Indianapolis, Tony Stewart-Watkins Glen)

    Sharpie 500
    Bristol Motor Speedway

    TV: TNT, 7:00 p.m. (ET).
    Radio: PRN/XM Satellite.
    Race length: 500 Laps, 266.5 miles.

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