March 15, 2008

Who to Watch at Bristol

Dale Jarrett, way back when

The End of the Road:
#44 Dale Jarrett - One of the faces of NASCAR for the last 20 years, this is Jarrett's last race. While it's unlikely he'll compete for the victory, his farewell will be the big story this weekend.

The Usual Suspects:
#18 Kyle Busch - Busch won the first Car of Tomorrow race here one year ago. He's also still the hottest driver in NASCAR, and remains #1 in points. He's also #1 in points in the Craftsman Truck Series, and would lead the Nationwide points if he hadn't blown a tire last week.

#16 Greg Biffle - Somewhat quietly #2 in points, he has the best average finish at Bristol of the experienced drivers at 10th.

#99 Carl Edwards - Two straight wins a couple weeks ago, Carl was blowing the field away last week until the engine quit. He's won at Bristol before, but short tracks aren't where he's most dominant.

Under the Radar:
#2 Kurt Busch - The older brother is pretty good at Bristol, with 4 wins in the last 10 races. He's also #10 in points.

#24 Jeff Gordon - It's always a mistake to overlook Gordon, who has been quite good over his career at Bristol (5 wins and a bunch of poles, plus starting 2nd this time).

#88 Dale Jr. - In spite of his issues at DEI, Jr. finished in the top 11 in all of the last 9 races at Bristol, very impressive. That means he knows how to run fast, but also protect the car and stay out of trouble.

Victory Lap:
#83 Brian Vickers - Currently 9th in the points, Vickers is guaranteed to be in the top 35 after this race, meaning he won't have to qualify on time in Martinsville (and probably the rest of the year). A great run for a team that only made 23 of the 36 races last year. Don't expect great things this week, though; Vickers struggles at Bristol.

Desperate Times:
Everyone below 30th in the standings - The points used for automatic qualifying reset from last year's final standings to this year's current standings after Bristol. If you're not in the top 35, you have to qualify on time, and once you start missing races, it's even harder to get into the top 35. This is the last chance for Waltrip, Hornish, Blaney, etc. to get on the right side of their bubble.

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