By Toby Christie (Originally appeared on RubbingsRacing.com)
Atlanta showed just how unpredictable a NASCAR race could be, as my predictions were basically thrown out the window. However this week I vow to bring sanity back to my predictions. Without further adieu here is what you can expect at Bristol:
It has looked like the Busch series at Bristol Motor Speedway lately, as the Busch brothers Kurt and Kyle have basically made everyone look bushleague. In the past 16 races at the world’s fastest half mile the Busch brothers have taken eight checkered flags, including Kurt’s three straight win reign between 2003 and 2004, and Kyle’s sweep of Bristol last season.
Kurt is also tied with Jeff Gordon with most wins among active drivers at Bristol with five victories. While his brother Kyle has the second highest career average finish (10.2) at Bristol.
Point leader Kevin Harvick somehow managed to survive and rally to a top-10 finish at Atlanta even when things looked terrible all day long, but don’t expect a struggle out of Harvick this weekend. This is one of Harvick’s best tracks. He has a win here and an average finish of 12.9. So expect Harvick to be happy this weekend.
Roush-Fenway teammates Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards each have two wins here in the past, but remember Edwards is coming off of a rough week at Atlanta where he sent Brad Keselowski flying. So Edwards may be watching his back more than looking for the checkers. Kenseth however has yet to finish outside the top-10 this season, and I fully expect him to be there again this week. Oh and speaking of Roush cars who have finished in the top-10 in every race thus far this year, Greg Biffle has also accomplished this feat, and he actually has been very solid at Bristol too. In fact Greg Biffle is my pick to win this weekend.
Looking for a sleeper this week? Look no further than Marcos Ambrose. Ambrose has the highest career average finish at Bristol among all active drivers (6.5). I know he has only had two career starts there, but he has performed very solid, and he should continue that this weekend. Remember this is a track very tough on rookies, yet Ambrose was able to score two top-10 finishes here last year in his rookie campaign. Look out for the Aussie this weekend.
As I mentioned earlier Jeff Gordon is tied with the most victories among active drivers with five at Bristol… expect him to compete this weekend. In fact expect every Hendrick car to recover from Atlanta’s tire debacle except Jimmie Johnson. I know I know it sounds crazy not to have Jimmie as a favorite, but the truth of the matter is Bristol that may just be his worst race track. Johnson has finished off the lead lap in half of the events he has started at Bristol, and has an average finish of 15.9 here. I expect Johnson to continue his Bristol woes this weekend.
Other than Johnson who else should you stay away from this week? Paul Menard, Brian Vickers, Martin Truex Jr. and Sam Hornish Jr. are all drivers you should keep away from if you have a fantasy team. None of these drivers have ever posted a top-10 in a Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol.