Previewing the Food City 500


By Daniel Courson
April 21, 2017


The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is headed to Thunder Valley for the second short-track race of the year. Thirty-nine drivers have entered in the Food City 500 at Bristol (2:00 P.M. E. T. Sunday, FOX).

DRIVERS TO WATCH

Jimmie Johnson

The driver of the Lowe's Chevrolet is headed to the Last Great Colosseum with momentum on his side after claiming his first victory of the season two weeks ago at Texas.

Johnson has finished inside the top ten in three of his last four career starts at Bristol Motor Speedway, including a runner up finish to Matt Kenseth in this race two years ago.

Johnson claimed his lone victory at Bristol in the Spring of 2010.

“Bristol has been a better track for us with the exception of this race one year ago when we were caught speeding on pit road in the first 52 laps,” Johnson said in a press release. “It was so costly, we never recovered. Besides that, over the past two years we have been consistently in the top five.

“It’s a tough race mentally and physically but is always entertaining for the fans.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

The two-time Daytona 500 champion is tied with Johnson for an average finish of ninth in the last three races (missed Fall 2016 due to injury).

Earnhardt has finished inside the top ten three times in his last two starts, including a runner up to race winner Carl Edwards in last year’s Food City 500.

Earnhardt is coming off his first top-ten finish of 2017 two weeks ago at Texas Motor Speedway.

“We’re going to keep looking at ways to improve our car and get better, but I always look forward to racing at Bristol, there’s just no other track like it,” Earnhardt said in a press release. “Hopefully we can carry our momentum from Texas into this weekend.”

Kevin Harvick

When the series last visited Bristol back in August of last year, Kevin Harvick claimed his second victory at the speedway in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race.

Harvick was second to Kyle Busch in the laps led column, leading 128 to Busch’s 256. Harvick has an average finish of 12th in his last four starts at the World’s Fastest Half-Mile and has finished inside the top-ten three times.

The 2014 champion will be seeking his first victory of 2017 this weekend.

“I think we’ve had success on short tracks in the past,” Harvick said in a press release. “It’s really just a matter putting a weekend together. It’s really no different than any other racetrack.

“This business is hard to be successful at and sometimes you go through years where short tracks are good and some years not so good. Some years longer tracks are good and some are not so good. It’s really just about putting together a whole weekend.”

WEATHER

Mother Nature may affect on-track activity at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend.

At the time of publication, the National Weather Service forecasts up to a 70 percent chance of rain in Bristol, Tennessee Friday.

The Saturday forecast calls for a high of 78 with up to an 80 percent chance of rain.

The raceday forecast calls for a high of 66 and an 80 percent chance of rain during the day with the chance of rain dropping to 40 percent at night.

Rain delayed the start of the Spring race in 2014 and 2015 in NASCAR’s premiere touring series.

SOURCES
National Weather Service
Racing-Reference.info
Team Chevrolet
True Speed Communications

IMAGES
Daniel Courson/The Racing Experts

Which driver will finish highest at Bristol?
No. 4 Kevin Harvick
No. 48 Jimmie Johnson
No. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
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