It’s the second short-track race in three weekends as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Bristol Motor Speedway for some bumping and banging.
Before Sunday’s Food City 500 (2 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), let’s give you the low down on some things to watch.
Bristol Motor Speedway is known as the “World’s Fastest Half Mile” as a 0.533-mile track. The concrete racing surface is 40 feet wide and the straightaways are 650 feet long. There is 24 to 28 degree banking in the corners. On the frontstreetch, there is 5 to 9 degree banking, while on the backstretch there is 4 to 8 degree banking. In recent years, the track has used PJ1 TrackBite – a custom formulated resin – to bring in multiple grooves on the racing surface. Jack Smith won the first Cup race here on July 30, 1961. In the spring, the track hosts the Cup and Xfinity Series. In the summer, the track hosts all three national series.
The Monster Energy Series will run the 2019 rules package tailored for short tracks (less than 1.33 miles in length) and road courses. A 1.17-inch tapered spacer will be used, with engines expected to generate about 750 horsepower. Unlike last week’s race at Texas Motor Speedway, no aero ducts will be used. This weekend’s configuration of the 2019 rules package will be used at 14 events in total this season. The 1.17-inch tapered spacer was first used this season at 1-mile ISM Raceway on March 10.
Teams will have nine sets of Goodyear Eagle Speedway Redials for the race as well as three sets for practice and one for qualifying. This is a new tire setup that both the Cup and Xfinity teams will run this weekend and this is the only track where this tire will be run. Compared to last year’s Bristol tire, this setup features a compound change on the left side and construction updates on both sides of the car.
“While Bristol is only a half-mile in length, it races very much like a speedway,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing. “The steep banking generates a lot of speed and a high amount of loading, even more so with the 2019, high downforce rules package. The tire set-up that we bring takes that into account while enhancing the stability and handling of the cars through the corners.
“The other factor at Bristol is the concrete track surface. It is important to lay rubber down on the surface and create the opportunity for teams to use all three lanes. There will be a four-foot-wide line of the PJ1 grip compound laid down in the bottom lane in the corners, so that application and subsequent wearing off of the compound will change racing throughout the weekend and keep it exciting for the fans as drivers potentially move around the track to find maximum grip.”
Much has been made of Jimmie Johnson’s winless streak – a stretch that is now at 66 races as his last win came at Dover in June of 2017. The seven-time champion is fresh off a top-five result at Texas Motor Speedway. He has two wins at Bristol – one of which came in 2017 – and has a stretch seven top 10s in his last nine races. This track, in particular, has knack for snapping Victory Lane droughts especially in recent years.
This Sunday’s race will be televised on FS1, with radio coverage on PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Log onto NASCAR.com for coverage, including in-car cameras on Drive and in-car audio on RaceView. Be sure to follow your Fantasy Live team and make your garage decision by the end of Stage 2 when rosters are final. Of note: Opening Cup practice will be streamed on NASCAR.com starting at 1:05 p.m. ET on Friday afternoon.
2018 RACE WINNER
Kyle Busch beat Kyle Larson by .628 seconds for the race win last spring. It was Busch’s second straight win at Bristol and his second in a row in 2018. For Larson, it was the first of two runner-up finishes at the track in 2018. Busch comes into Bristol on the heels of a strong start to the 2019 season as he is the points leader and also has two wins. He also has the longest active top-10s streak dating back to ISM Raceway in 2018 – a stretch of nine races. The 2015 champion’s 3.7 average finish is the sixth-best all time through seven races of a season.
ACTIVE BRISTOL WINNERS
Kyle Busch (seven), Kurt Busch (six), Brad Keselowski (two), Jimmie Johnson (two), Kevin Harvick (two), Joey Logano (two) and Denny Hamlin (one).