Driver Handicaps: Bristol

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    This weekend the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series heads to Bristol Motor Speedway for the Sharpie 500 for the 10th Car of Tomorrow race of the year. 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 and Kurt Busch lead all drivers with five wins each.
  • Kevin Harvick has the best average finish among all drivers at 10.1.
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. has one win and five top 10s in the last six races.
  • Matt Kenseth has led a combined 532 laps en route to wins in the last two races in August.
  • Kyle Busch has finished second and first, respectively, in the last two events.

    Keep an Eye on at Bristol
  • Denny Hamlin has led 612 laps in Car of Tomorrow competition.
  • Tony Stewart led 257 laps in March at Bristol up until a fuel pump cable broke.
  • Greg Biffle has the third-best driver rating in the last five races at Bristol.
  • Ricky Rudd leads all drivers with 31 top 10s at Bristol.
  • Jeff Burton has a 5.5 average finish in his last two starts at Bristol.
  • Jimmie Johnson is coming off two consecutive third-place finishes at Watkins Glen and Michigan.
  • Martin Truex Jr. won the last COT race (Dover) on a concrete surface.

    COT Performers
    Jeff Gordon leads all drivers in starting average (8.0) and finishing average (4.2) among the drivers that have competed in all nine Car of Tomorrow races. Gordon is tied with his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson for the most wins with two. Denny Hamlin has dominated the competition by winning one race (New Hampshire), leading an impressive 612 laps and posting an average finish of 4.7. Among drivers with three or more starts - Carl Edwards (Ford), Ryan Newman (Dodge) and Brian Vickers (Toyota) hold the best average finish among their manufacturers at 11.0, 16.2 and 29.5, respectively. David Gilliland has the worst average finish among all the drivers that have made every COT start at 33.6. COT Driver Averages | COT Lap Leaders

    Track Performers
    With no other track like Bristol Motor Speedway, both Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch lead all drivers in victories at the track with five. Matt Kenseth is the only other driver that is entered in this weekend's race that has posted multiple victories. Ricky Rudd leads all active full-time drivers with 31 top 10's. No driver comes close to Gordon's lap led total of 2435, which more than twice the amount of Tony Stewart's total of 1085. With Mark Martin not in this weekend's race that gives Gordon's the Bristol pole lead with five. Driver Stats at Bristol

    Bristol Rookie Report
    This weekend will mark the second career NEXTEL Cup starts for all the Raybestos Rookie of the Year candidates at Bristol Motor Speedway. David Ragan was the only rookie to finish in the top 30 in March at Bristol after finishing 26th. However, Juan Pablo Montoya did score a 14th-place finish in his first Busch Series race at the track. Aric Almirola will join the rookie crop this weekend as he will take over the wheel of the No. 01 US Army Chevrolet for Mark Martin. Saturday will mark Almirola's second career start in the Cup Series. David Reutimann, who failed to qualify in March, is the only rookie that has finished inside the top 10 in a least one Truck and Busch race at Bristol. Reutimann also has one pole in the 2005 O'Reilly 200 Truck Series race. Rookie Standings

    Qualifying Tidbits
    Since 2002, only five drivers have combined to win the pole at Bristol Motor Speedway. Jeff Gordon leads with five poles in that span. Ryan Newman, the current qualifying record holder, won the pole for the spring event in 2003 and 2004. Elliott Sadler and Matt Kenseth won the poles in 2005, and last year Kurt Busch took the top spot in the August race. Kenseth is the last driver to win a race from the pole. In the spring of 2006 rain washed out qualifying at Bristol for the first time, giving Tony Stewart the pole. 21 of the 93 events at Bristol have been won from the pole. Past Pole Winners | Starting Positions of Bristol Winners

    Race to The Chase
    Jeff Gordon leads all drivers that are currently seeded for "The Chase" with five poles, 12 top fives and 18 top 10s at Bristol Motor Speedway. Gordon is tied for the lead in wins with Kurt Busch with five. Click Here to view a video to see how the eligible Chase drivers stack up at Bristol.

    Bristol Loop Data Stat Leaders (2005-2007)
    *Fastest Early in a Run
    *Fastest Late in a Run
    Avg. Running Position
    1. Matt Kenseth
    1. Kevin Harvick
    1. Matt Kenseth - 5.3
    2. Greg Biffle
    2. Matt Kenseth
    2. Jeff Gordon - 8.5
    3. Denny Hamlin
    3. Greg Biffle
    3. Kevin Harvick - 10.8
    4. Jeff Gordon
    4. Elliott Sadler
    4. Greg Biffle - 10.9
    5. Kevin Harvick
    5. Jeff Gordon
    5. Elliott Sadler - 11.4
    Laps in Top 15
    *Quality Passes
    *Driver Rating
    1. Matt Kenseth - 2364
    1. Kevin Harvick - 88
    1. Matt Kenseth - 119.6
    2. Jeff Gordon - 2079
    2. Greg Biffle - 86
    2. Greg Biffle - 105.4
    3. Elliott Sadler - 2046
    3. Jeff Gordon - 84
    3. Jeff Gordon - 104.8
    4. Kevin Harvick - 1939
    4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. - 79
    4. Kevin Harvick - 102.5
    5. Greg Biffle - 1823
    5. Kyle Busch - 75
    5. Elliott Sadler - 99.5

    *Fastest Early In a Run: Ranks each driver during the first 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop.
    *Fastest Late In a Run: Ranks each driver during last 25 percent of laps run since a pit stop.
    *Quality Passes: Passing a car running in the Top 15 while under a green flag.
    *Driver Rating : Formula combining the following categories: Wins, Finishes, Top-15 Finishes, Average Running Position While on Lead Lap, Average Speed Under Green, Fastest Lap, Led Most Laps, Lead-Lap Finish. Maximum: 150 points per race.


    Dale Jr. Reality Cup Tiebreakers

    Last Five Number of Lead Changes
    2007-14
    2006-19
    2006-18
    2005-14
    2005-17

    Average: 16.4

    Last Five Number of Cautions Laps
    2007-90
    2006-104
    2006-62
    2005-115
    2005-88

    Average: 91.8

    *RacingOne Staff Picks

    Jeff Wackerlin: Greg Biffle
    Pete Pistone: Dave Blaney
    Rachael West: Matt Kenseth

    *Note: Drivers can be selected only one time per season. Race points will be added up each week. This is the 21st race of the season for this section of the handicaps. Standings

    Top 20 Driver Notes - Based on Current Standings

    1. Jeff Gordon (Points: 3471): Gordon has five career victories, including four-straight spring wins from 1995 - 1998, and a stellar starting average of 5.1 in 29 starts at Bristol Motor Speedway. He has started outside the top-eight only five times and his five poles at Bristol have come in the last 11 races. Gordon has led the most laps in an event seven times and has led an overall total of 2,435 laps at BMS. In the spring Gordon started from the pole and led six laps en route to a third-place finish in the inaugural race for the Car of Tomorrow.

    2. Denny Hamlin (Points Behind: -276): Now that he's locked into the Chase, Denny Hamlin can concentrate on trying to gain some additional points for the Chase seedings. He is making his fourth NASCAR NEXTEL Cup start at Bristol this weekend. In the spring at BMS, Hamlin led 177 laps before he lost the lead on a late race restart due to a fuel pick-up problem. All he could do was coast to the finish line and settle for a 14th-place finish. The team is bringing the same car to the track and hopes to again dominate the event. Hamlin also drove this car, chassis COT 154 to third-place finishes at Phoenix and Richmond.

    3. Matt Kenseth (Points Behind: -354): Kenseth has been solid at Bristol Motor Speedway in his last four starts posting two wins and an average finish of 4.0. In 2005, he won his first Bristol race from the pole after dominating the race, leading 415 of the 500 laps. Last year in this event, Kenseth led 117 laps en route to the win and his seventh top five at the track. In fact his only finish outside the top 15 in the last 11 races came in 2005 spring race when he finished 16th.

    4. Tony Stewart (Points Behind: -398): In 17 Bristol starts, Stewart has one victory and four top-five finishes. Since his win in this event in 2001, Stewart has scored two top-10 finishes, both coming in the 2005 season. He appeared to be on his way to another victory in the spring when he dominated the first half of the race leading 257 laps up until a fuel pump cable broke. In the end Stewart finished 35th for his worst finish at the track since 2000. This weekend he will return in the same chassis (No. 170) that was running in the top 10 at Dover before it was involved in a crash with Kurt Busch's Dodge on lap 271.

    5. Carl Edwards (Points Behind: -501): Edwards finally broke into the top 20 at Bristol Motor Speedway in 2006 with two solid runs of fourth and seventh, respectively. In the 2005 spring race 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 that season he finished 24th. This past March, Edwards finished 12th to lower his overall finishing average to 17.7. Edwards also has one Truck Series win at BMS, after he came from the back of the field to survive a green-white-checkered in 2004.

    6. Jimmie Johnson (Points Behind: -512): Last year in this event, Johnson put a end to a two-race streak of finishing 30th or worse at Bristol Motor Speedway by capturing his sixth top 10 with a 10th-place finish. His best finish (third) came in the 2004 night race. Prior to his first DNF at BMS in the 2005 August race, Johnson led at least one lap in three races for a combined total of 29 laps. Johnson, who finished 16th in spring with the COT, will race chassis No. 433 in the Sharpie 500. This is the same car that finised 15th at Dover.

    7. Jeff Burton (Points Behind: -544): In 27 starts at Bristol Motor Speedway, Burton has captured seven top five and 11 top-10 finishes and had led a total of 318 laps. In his six Bristol races with Richard Childress Racing, Burton has posted an average finish of 14.5. His best finish with the team is a pair of second-place finishes with the most recent coming in March. Last year in this event, Burton led a career-high 263 laps at Bristol from the second starting position. This weekend he will drive the same COT chassis (No. 193) that finished 13th at Phoenix.

    8. Kyle Busch (Points Behind: -590): Busch has picked up the pace in his last three starts at Bristol Motor Speedway, finishing eighth, second and first, respectively. Busch led 29 laps en route to his win in the spring to help his overall finishing average with the COT, which is 10.4. This weekend he will be back in the Bristol winning chassis (No. 411).

    9. Clint Bowyer (Points Behind: -692): This past spring, Clint Bowyer captured his best finish at the .533-mile track in three starts, an eighth-place finish. Bowyer will pilot chassis No. 192, a car that the RCR team has raced at six COT races this season. Bowyer most notably drove this car to the eighth-place finish at Bristol in the spring and also the pole position at Darlington. He will be pulling double-duty when he returns to the seat of the Busch Series No. 2 Chevrolet on Friday.

    10. Kevin Harvick (Points Behind: -698): After finishing second on two previous occasions, Harvick finally reached victory lane at Bristol Motor Speedway in the 2005 spring event. This past March Harvick started 40th and finished fourth to mark his ninth top 10 in 13 Bristol starts. On Saturday, Harvick will pilot the same COT chassis (No. 190) that has posted a 15.0 average finish in seven starts.

    11. Martin Truex Jr. (Points Behind: -714): Martin Truex Jr. hasn't had the best success at Bristol Motor Speedway. In three starts, he's suffered one DNF and failed to break into the top 10. His average finish is 31.0 and in the COT debut there this spring, he finished 37th.

    12. Kurt Busch (Points Behind: -747): In only 13 NASCAR NEXTEL career starts at Bristol, Kurt Busch has captured five victories. Despite all his seeming success at the .533-mile track, he had a horrible COT debut there in the spring. After qualifying 42nd, Busch finished 29th. This finish came on the heels of a 37th-place finish last fall at Bristol from the pole position. For Busch, it seems to be either feast or famine at the short track. He's captured the five wins and an additional three top 10s, but he's also finished 25th or worse in his five other starts.

    13. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Points Behind: -910): 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 eight top 10s and has finished 16th or better. In 15 career starts he has led a total of 742 laps. He will be driving the same COT chassis (No. 051) that finished seventh in March at Bristol.

    14. Ryan Newman (Points Behind: -918): Newman currently holds the qualifying record at Bristol Motor Speedway 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. After a DNF in the 2005 August race, Newman bounced back with finishes of ninth and eighth, respectively, in 2006. In March he recorded his second DNF after a crash took him out of contention.

    15. Greg Biffle (Points Behind: -1043): Greg Biffle has posted three top fives and five top 10s in nine starts at Bristol Motor Speedway. This spring he finished fifth. Biffle has a 10.3 average finish and has the second best driver rating of 105.4 at BMS. The team is bringing chassis 446, which was raced at Bristol this season and at Martinsville to 32nd place. Biffle tested a Busch car on the new Bristol surface and has mixed feelings about how the new surface will affect the racing saying "the way the new surface is, it's a lot smoother through and off of the corners, so you can't really get the speed off of the corners that you used to."

    16. Casey Mears (Points Behind: -1110): Casey Mears has been steady lately, posting four top-15 finishes in the last five races and returns to Bristol coming off his career-best finish there in the spring. After starting 16th, Mears finished 10th in his ninth start at BMS. That finish is his only top-10 result there. Mears posted three straight DNFs at Bristol from 2004 to 2005.

    17. Jamie McMurray (Points Behind: -1185): In nine NASCAR NEXTEL Cup starts at Bristol, Jamie McMurray has posted one top-five finish, third in this event in 2003, and four top-10 finishes. McMurray posted his most recent top-10 finish at Bristol in the spring, finishing ninth. The team is bringing chassis RK-456 to the track. This car was last raced at Dover in June to a 24th-place finish.

    18. Bobby Labonte (Points Behind: -1207): Labonte's most successful finish at Bristol Motor Speedway was third in March of 2003. Last year in this event, he finished fifth in his first track start with Petty Enterprises. In total, Labonte has posted three top-fives and nine top 10s at the .533-mile track.

    19. Juan Pablo Montoya (Points Behind: -1208): Despite being the leading rookie in the Cup Series, Juan Pablo Montoya struggled at Bristol in his debut finishing 32nd from the 36th-starting position.

    20. Mark Martin (Points Behind: -1251): Mark Martin isn't racing in Saturday night's race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Instead Aric Almirola will make his debut for DEI-Ginn Racing in the team's No. 01 Chevrolet.

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