NASCAR Cup Series at Bristol: lineup, start time, picks, race preview, predictions for the Food City 500

Across the rolling hills of Tennessee and Appalachia, the first signs of spring begin to appear and the new world begins to bloom as winter ends. But strangely, at this time of year, there’s no better place to be in this region than in front of a man-made monster of steel and concrete. One that recalls the golden ages of the past and has earned the right to be called the last great coliseum.

The NASCAR Cup Series makes its first trip of the season to Bristol Motor Speedway for the Food City 500 and, for the first time in several years, finds Bristol in the same condition it left it after the Night Race last fall . After three years as the only dirt race on the Cup Series schedule, the Bristol spring race will once again be run on concrete, featuring 500 laps of traditional high-speed, high-contact Bristol racing – complete with the walls red and white of NASCAR. Winston Cup era as track commemorates a return to concrete with a weekend back.

The last time the Cup Series was held at Bristol on concrete in the spring, it was Kyle Busch beating his brother Kurt to earn his eighth of nine career victories at this track. Busch will be looking to claim 10th place at Bristol this weekend, but he does so after a dismal performance last week at Phoenix and is looking not to lose ground to winning drivers this season like Phoenix winner Christopher Bell, who won the spring race at Bristol. last year when it was on earth.

This year, 2023 Cup Series champion Ryan Blaney will start from pole position after a successful qualifying day. Blaney won his first pole of the year on Saturday, narrowly edging out rookie Josh Berry and veterans Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano, who each won poles in the season’s opening races.

How to watch the NASCAR Cup Series in Bristol

Date: Sunday March 17
Location: Bristol Motor Speedway – Bristol, Tennessee
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
TV: Fox
Flow: fubo (try for free)

First line

  1. #12 – Ryan Blaney
  2. #4 – Josh Berry (right)
  3. #11 – Denny Hamlin
  4. #22 – Joey Logano
  5. #9 – Chase Elliott
  6. #14 – Chase Briscoe
  7. #34 – Michael McDowell
  8. #24 – William Byron
  9. #23 – Bubba Wallace
  10. #5 – Kyle Larson
  11. #19 – Martin Truex Jr.
  12. #20 – Christopher Bell
  13. #21 – Harrison Burton
  14. #8 – Kyle Busch
  15. #43 – Erik Jones
  16. #71 – Zane Smith (right)
  17. #6 – Brad Keselowski
  18. #7 – Corey LaJoie
  19. #54 – Ty Gibbs
  20. #31 – Daniel Hemric
  21. #2 – Austin Cindric
  22. #10 – Noah Gragson
  23. #45 – Tyler Reddick
  24. #38 – Todd Gilliland
  25. #41 – Ryan Preece
  26. #42 – John Hunter Nemechek
  27. #47 – Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  28. #99 – Daniel Suarez
  29. #48 – Alex Bowman
  30. #16 – AJ Allmendinger
  31. #3 – Austin Dillon
  32. #51 – Justin Haley
  33. #15 – Kaz Grala (right)
  34. #17 – Chris Buescher
  35. #77 – Carson Hocevar (right)
  36. #1 – Ross Chastain

What to watch

Following the events of last week’s race at Phoenix, NASCAR is collectively under scrutiny as the Cup Series heads to a short track like Bristol, fresh from multiple on-field disputes. A disagreement existed between Joey Logano and John Hunter Nemechek, with Logano calling on the second-generation driver to be “man enough” to take responsibility for crashing into him entering Turn 1.

The dispute between Logano and Nemechek appears to be settled, as Logano told reporters during a tire test at North Wilkesboro Speedway that the two had talked and were “all good.” The status of another dispute, however, seems less certain.

After Sunday’s race at Phoenix, Erik Jones expressed his displeasure with Chase Briscoe through the media, claiming that he repeatedly dragged him down on multiple restarts and put him in a position where he had been put into the wall while running four, thus ruining his race. and relegating him to 31st despite a car qualifying in the top five and reaching second place before a botched pit stop cost him his track position.

“He seems to have a problem with me every week. I’ll call him this week, he probably won’t call me back,” Jones told Frontstretch. “I’d love to talk to him.”

The issue did not appear to be resolved Tuesday, as Briscoe told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that he still had not received a phone call from Jones and remained perplexed as to exactly why the driver of the No. 43 was angry with him. While Briscoe acknowledged that he got into Jones exiting Turn 4, he noted that the contact that sent Jones into the wall came from Bubba Wallace, that Jones and Briscoe were racing for position.

“I don’t know if he didn’t call me because he watched the replay and realized it wasn’t really me who did it,” Briscoe said. “I haven’t heard from him. If he calls me, I’ll be happy to talk to him and explain everything. … I thought it was just a racing deal where four guys were kind of all I went to the same place and everything just kind of stopped.”

Depending on what is said next Saturday, when drivers typically meet the press before qualifying, keep an eye on Jones and Briscoe if they find themselves on the track next Sunday.

News of the week

  • Following a mixed response to the first race with NASCAR’s new short track and road aero rules at Phoenix, much of the talk last week focused on competitors advocating increased horsepower juxtaposed with NASCAR’s resistance to an increase from the current 650 horsepower standard. NASCAR has spent much of the past 10 years reducing horsepower for a variety of reasons, among them attempts to produce closer racing at intermediate tracks, cost controls and efforts to attract new manufacturers to the sport.

    A number of drivers have weighed in on this topic, including Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson, whose arguments included the idea that a power increase more in line with what Cup Series engines are capable of producing would not result in not a significant increase in costs. NASCAR, however, continues to resist such a concept because of what it would take for another automaker to agree to take on the sport.

    “The number we’re at seems to be the number we want to get to to try to interest potential new manufacturers,” Cup Series general manager Brad Moran said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “If we start to move away from this number, it can create problems in this area. But we are always open to everything. We take everything into account, and we talk about the engine quite often. But there are a lot of different parts who have to agree before this can happen.”

    This argument was countered by Larson, who offered a direct anecdote from internal conversations at Hendrick Motorsports to suggest that a horsepower increase could be achieved relatively easily and quickly. While massive changes to NASCAR engines and power output likely won’t happen immediately, don’t expect this debate to go away or become less intense anytime soon.

    “I heard our Scotty Maxim say… ‘We could bring in 1,000 horsepower next week,'” Larson told the Dale Jr. Download. “They’re literally taking the engine that I won with in Vegas and making it a 1,000 horsepower engine and putting it in one of Rick (Hendrick)’s personal cars that they’re building right now. They can TO DO.

  • Former F1 driver and 24 Hours of Le Mans champion Kamui Kobayashi will make his return to NASCAR next weekend at the Circuit of the Americas, driving a third car for 23XI Racing, as he did last last summer in Indianapolis. Kobayashi will make his second career Cup start after finishing 33rd in his debut at Indy, where he became the second Japanese driver in history to compete in a Cup Series race.

Choose to win

Ty Gibbs (+1300) — I’m extremely bullish on Ty Gibbs this weekend, and I have one foot in the water — almost two — in picking him to win outright. The last time the Cup Series raced at Bristol, Gibbs led a career-best 102 laps and appeared to have a potential winning car before finishing fifth. In the first short track race of the year at The Clash, Gibbs was on his way to victory before a late caution foiled him. And he’s coming off two straight top-five finishes and three straight top-10 finishes, including a career-best third place finish last week at Phoenix, where he led 57 laps.

Ty Gibbs’ first victory is approaching. In fact, it’s coming soon. And I dare say it could happen as soon as this weekend.

So, who wins the 2024 Food City 500, and which long shots are unmissable? Check out the latest NASCAR at Bristol 2024 odds below, then visit SportsLine to see the full projected NASCAR at Bristol 2024 standings, all from the model that has 16 winners.

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