Driver Handicaps: Bristol

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This weekend the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series heads to Bristol Motor Speedway for the Food City 500. To help you make your Dale Jr. Reality Cup Racing fantasy picks, RacingOne brings you our weekly detailed look at some of the field for the 500-lap event.

Who's HOT at Bristol
  • Jeff Gordon leads all active drivers with five wins and 2,385 laps led.
  • Matt Kenseth, the latest Cup winner at Bristol, has the best average finish (9.5) over the last 10 races.
  • Greg Biffle has completed every lap in six events. His finishing average of 10.3 leads all active drivers.
  • Kevin Harvick, the defending race winner, is tied with Kenseth for the most top fives over the last 10 events.
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. is second in finishing average (10.2) and laps led (707) over the past 10 races.
  • Kurt Busch has four wins in the last eight events.

    Keep an Eye on at Bristol
  • Point leader Jimmie Johnson has five finishes of eighth or better in eight starts.
  • Elliott Sadler finished second in this event last season.
  • Tony Stewart has finished in the top 10 in the last two starts.
  • Sterling Marlin has the second best finishing average (13.8) among all drivers that have started every race since 1998.
  • Terry Labonte leads all active drivers with 19 top fives, and 33 top 10s.
  • Jeff Burton finished second last August.
  • Mark Martin leads all active full-time drivers with 15 top fives, and 20 top 10s.

    Bristol Rookie Report
    None of the Raybestos Rookies have made a NEXTEL Cup start at Bristol Motor Speedway. Martin Truex Jr. has had the most success at BMS, capturing one win (2004) and four finishes of seventh or better. Reed Sorenson had the best finish (third) in the 2005 spring Bristol Busch race among the group. Clint Bowyer, Denny Hamlin and David Stremme have also finished inside the top 10 once each in a combined eight starts at the .533-mile speedway. Brent Sherman finished 34th in his only NBS start at Bristol in 2005.

    Last Five Number of Lead Changes
    2005-17
    2005-14
    2004-18
    2004-13
    2003-11

    Last Five Number of Cautions Laps
    2005-88
    2005-115
    2004-63
    2004-85
    2003-119

    Qualifying Tidbits: Since 2002, only four drivers have combined to win the pole at Bristol Motor Speedway. Jeff Gordon leads with three poles in that span. Ryan Newman, the current qualifying record holder, won the pole for this event in 2003 and 2004. Elliott Sadler and Matt Kenseth won the poles at BMS last season. Kenseth is the last driver to win a race from the pole since Gordon turned the trick in the 2002 August race. 21 of the 90 events at Bristol have been won from the pole. 82% of them have been won from the top 10. Past Pole Winners

    RacingOne Staff Picks
    Jeff Wackerlin (Senior Editor) -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. -- Rides into Victory Lane for the first time in 2006 after a good run in Atlanta.
    Pete Pistone (Managing Editor) -- Jeff Gordon -- Past Bristol success speaks for itself and solid start to the season adds up to a trip to Victory Lane.
    Jorge Mondaca (Assistant Editor) -- Kevin Harvick -- More than anybody else, he enters Bristol needing a shot of momentum.
    J.J. O'Malley (RacingOne Contributor) -- Kurt Busch -- Busch knows the way to Victory Lane at Bristol, and so does the No. 2 Miller Lite car.
    Shawn Akers (RacingOne Columnist) -- Tony Stewart -- Four races into the season means he's already overdue for a victory.

    More Driver Notes - In order of point standings

    1. Jimmie Johnson (Points: 690): In eight races at Bristol Motor Speedway, Johnson has captured five top-10 finishes. He finished third in the August 2004 event, his best Bristol finish. Prior to his first DNF at BMS last August, Johnson led at least one lap in three races for a combined total of 29 laps. Johnson started 14th and finished sixth in this event one year ago. The primary car (chassis No. 48329) Johnson will drive is the same car that finished 40th at Homestead in 2005 after blowing a right-rear tire on lap 125.

    2. Kasey Kahne (Points Behind: -50): Kahne has started inside the top 10 at Bristol Motor Speedway in all four of his starts there. His best finish at BMS (14th) came in this event last year. He'll be driving the same car (chassis No. 112) that teammate Jeremy Mayfield piloted to a 18th-place finish last August.

    3. Matt Kenseth (Points Behind: -78): Kenseth won the last Bristol race from the pole after dominating the race, leading 415 of the 500 laps. It was his fifth top five, seventh top 10 and the fifth race led in 12 races at Bristol. Kenseth, who led 50 laps and finished 16th in this event last year, will be diving the same car that picked up his first Bristol win last August.

    4. Mark Martin (Points Behind: -90): Now that Rusty Wallace is retired, Martin is the leader 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, who finished 31st in this event in 2005, has captured 20 top 10s and 15 top fives at BMS. He will drive the same car (chassis RK-274) that finished 16th at Bristol last August.

    5. Casey Mears (Points Behind: -136): Mears has posted DNFs in two of the last three races at Bristol Motor Speedway. His best finish (21st) in six starts came in the August event in 2003. Mears tested at Caraway Speedway last week and on Wednesday in preparation for the next two short-track events.

    6. Jeff Gordon (Points Behind: -151): Gordon has five career victories, including four-straight spring wins from 1995 - 1998, and a stellar starting average of 4.7 in 26 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 eight races. Gordon has led the most laps seven times and has led an overall total of 2,358 laps at BMS. Last year his best Bristol finish came in the August event when he started second and finished sixth.

    7. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Points Behind: -156): In the 2004 August race at Bristol Motor Speedway, Earnhardt Jr. led 295 of 500 laps en route to his only Cup 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 and ninth, respectively, in 2005 and has led a total of 707 laps in 12 career starts. Dale Jr. will hope for the same magic as in 2004 as he will return in his Bristol winning chassis (No. 006).

    8. Kyle Busch (Points Behind: -160): Kyle Busch has finished 28th and 33rd, respectively, in his two starts at Bristol Motor Speedway. His primary chassis (No. 317) is the same car that finished second to teammate Jimmie Johnson at Las Vegas earlier this month.

    9. Dale Jarrett (Points Behind: -200): 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 of his track total of 19 top 10s. Jarrett will be behind the wheel of the same car (chassis No. 47) that finished 15th at Dover last September.

    11. Jeff Burton (Points Behind: -224): In 24 starts at Bristol Motor Speedway, Burton has captured six top-five and nine top-10 finishes and had led a total of 55 laps.

    12. Tony Stewart (Points Behind: -226): In 14 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 this event last year 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 a brand new chassis (No. 126) to the track this weekend.

    13. Elliott Sadler (Points Behind: -229): 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. Last year in this event, he captured his first pole at Bristol with a lap of 127.733 mph. He went on to finish second in that event for his fourth top 10, and second consecutive top five. Sadler finished 13th in the 2005 fall race.

    14. Brian Vickers (Points Behind: -234): Last year in this event Vickers scored his best finish (12th) at Bristol Motor Speedway in four starts. He has yet to lead a lap at BMS.

    16. Jamie McMurray (Points Behind: -268): Last year McMurray posted his first finishes of 11th or worse when he finished 24th and 26th, respectively. During a three race span from August 2003 - 2004, McMurray had three top 10s and an average finish of six. Chassis RK-66 will adorn the black and red colors of Sharpie for the first time in 2006 in Sunday's Food City 500. This is the same car that finished 10th in the fall at BMS with driver Kurt Busch.

    17. Ryan Newman (Points Behind: -269): 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 in the 2004 August event. Last year Newman finished 30th and 39th, respectively, at BMS. Team Alltel will race chassis (PRS-82) in the Food City 500. This car was tested at Kentucky Speedway and most recently finished 14th at Atlanta in March 2005.

    19. Robby Gordon (Points Behind: -275): Gordon has yet to finish inside the top 10 at Bristol Motor Speedway in nine starts. His best finish of 12th came in the 2004 August event with Richard Childress Racing. Gordon was one of six drivers that failed to qualify for this event last year. Last August he was able to qualify, but finished 38th (DNF).

    21. Greg Biffle (Points Behind: -296): Last August Biffle scored his best finish (third) at Bristol Motor Speedway in his sixth track start. It was his third finish of ninth or better, contributing to his series leading finishing average of 10.3. Last year in this event, Biffle led 91 laps en route to a ninth-place finish. His best qualifying effort came in the 2004 spring race when he started third. Biffle will drive chassis No. RK-268 in the Food City 500. This is the same car that won at Dover and Darlington last season. The car will carry the Subway colors for the second-straight week.

    22. Joe Nemechek (Points Behind: -308): Last August, Nemechek posted his first top 15 finish (12th) at Bristol Motor Speedway in 22 starts.

    23. Kevin Harvick (Points Behind: -312): Harvick finally reached Victory Lane at Bristol Motor Speedway in this event last year after finishing second on two occasions in the August 2001 and 2003 races. In 10 races, Harvick has posted one win, seven top 10s and has led 341 laps.

    24. Terry Labonte (Points Behind: -319): Labonte has competed in 54 races at Bristol Motor Speedway capturing two wins, last in the August 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.

    27. Ken Schrader (Points Behind: -342): Schrader has competed in 42 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.

    28. Kurt Busch (Points Behind: -344): Last year 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 with his second DNF at Bristol since his first race at the track in 2001 when he finished 42nd. With the exception of that race, Busch has finished 10th or better since his first win in 2002. He will be behind the wheel of the same car (chassis PRS-90) that nine-time Bristol winner Rusty Wallace piloted to a 13th-place finish in this event last season.

    30. Carl Edwards (Points Behind: -363): In this event last year, 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 a 26th-place finish. In the fall he scored his best Bristol Cup finish in three starts after coming home 24th. Edwards, who has yet to lead a lap at BMS in a Cup car, 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 in 2004. He will be driving the same car (chassis RK-320) that finished fourth at Homestead in the 2005 season finale.

    34. Jeremy Mayfield (Points Behind: -410): Mayfield posted his best finish (third) at Bristol Motor Speedway in the spring race in 2001 after starting 30th. He has led in four races for a total of 370 laps and has scored two top fives and five top-10s in 22 starts.

    38. Bobby Labonte (Points Behind: -445): Labonte's most successful finish at Bristol Motor Speedway was third in March of 2003. In total, Labonte has posted two top-fives and eight top 10s at the .533-mile track. This will be his first race at BMS in the No. 43 Dodge.

    39. Sterling Marlin (Points Behind: -446): Marlin has 42 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 before posting finishes of 11th and 29th, respectively, in 2005.
    
            
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