Crazy Weekend So Far
It’s been an interesting weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway to say the least. First, the track was re-done was once again to make the racing more “exciting” for fans. What it basically did is attempt to make only one racing groove. Then, the track officials thought it would be a great idea to crunch every pre-race activity into Friday afternoon, with two practice sessions scheduled as well as qualifying. The latter got rained out, however, and Casey Mears will bring the field to the green on Saturday night (not a joke). The full starting lineup can be found by clicking here. Also, I find average practice speeds very beneficial on short tracks, and you can read that article by clicking here.
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My Probable Yahoo! Roster: Brad Keselowski, Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex, Jr., Brian Vickers
My Probable Yahoo! Bench: Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman, Jamie McMurray, Sam Hornish, Jr.
Final Top Fifteen Ranking For The IRWIN Tools Night Race:
1. Brad Keselowski – Starts 2nd – Yahoo! A Group
**Risk Factor: Low Risk**
Well, with two straight wins at Bristol, Brad Keselowski now owns the best average finish at this track in the series with 10.4. He was one of the favorites coming into the weekend and after seeing practice it’s hard to go away from that now. Really, I can’t think of a reason not to pick the Blue Deuce this weekend. This team is on absolute fire and has the most momentum in the garage, and while Keselowski’s rank on the average speed chart wasn’t great, he had the 2nd-best ten-lap average in Happy Hour. Also, Ryan pointed out that he developed his own line in practice and was able to run the high line in turns 3 and 4. Bristol wins tend to come in streaks of some sort (like the Busch brothers) and Bad Brad will definitely be a contender for the win on Saturday night with a good chance at making it three straight trips to victory lane in Thunder Valley.
2. Matt Kenseth – Starts 17th – Yahoo! A Group
**Risk Factor: Medium Risk**
The #17 team ran a whole bunch of laps in first practice and ended up with the best ten-lap average among actual contenders. It looks like in Happy Hour that they focused solely on qualifying, as Kenseth only ran ten laps. This team is slumping a little bit as of late (at least finish-wise) and they need a rebound here. The good news is that Bristol is just the place for them to get that done. Matt is on a six-race streak of top 10s here at Thunder Valley and has two career wins on the half-mile race track (the most recent coming in 2006). His average finish of 11.6 here is third-best in the series behind Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch. It’s not someone you really expect to be good on short tracks, but Kenseth is a solid pick here and should be on Saturday night as well. It also doesn’t hurt that the #17 topped the average speed chart, either.
3. Kasey Kahne – Starts 12th – Yahoo! B Group
**Risk Factor: Medium Risk**
The #5 Chevrolet looked like one of the most solid race cars on the track during the practices on Friday (in my opinion). In the first Bristol race this season, Kahne made his way to the top 5 before being involved in the wreck that took out some big names (like Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, etc.). This team actually has some good luck now, though, and haven’t finished worse than 13th since Michigan back in June. I’m really liking Kasey’s rank on the average speed chart and having the 3rd-best ten-lap average in Happy Hour doesn’t hurt, either. The only thing that worries me a bit with the #5 this weekend is Kahne’s record here at Bristol; in seventeen career starts at The Bullring, Kasey has an average finish of 19.8 and just six top 10s. This team has had a knack for making the car better throughout the race, and that could be bad news for the competition because it’s already wicked fast going into the IRWIN Tools Night Race.
Those To Avoid For The IRWIN Tools Night Race:
Jimmie Johnson – It’s very rare for the five time champ’s name to be on my avoid list, but I have just not seen any speed out of the #48 Chevrolet this weekend. I think Chad Knaus wanted to sandbag in practice and go out early, but they backfired with qualifying getting rained out and Johnson will start 37th on Saturday. He’d make a good pick for the NASCAR.com Fantasy Live game, as I think Jimmie can still get a top 15, but as far as other leagues go, I think there are too many other options this weekend. Johnson was 12th in ten-lap average during first practice.
Carl Edwards - It’s never good when the driver continues to say that the car is “junk” throughout two straight practice sessions. Edwards only ran 80 laps in the two practice sessions combined and that tells me that this team was really searching. Also, the #99 never showed up on either ten-lap average chart and that is a huge red flag in my book at a place like Bristol. Carl’s average finish here is 13.9 and I see him as nothing better than a 20th-place driver going into Saturday.