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Sprint Cup 2013 — Food City 500 Preview

Food City 500 2013
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In all sports, I love conflict. I especially love it in NASCAR. And no place is prone to cause more conflict than Bristol Motor Speedway.

I’ve been there. The atmosphere is unbelievable. It’s rare in this new NASCAR world full of mile-and-a-half tracks where most fans can only see portions of the racetrack that a spectator can get a full, unabridged view of a speedway. And you want to see the full, unabridged view. It’s wild.

The leaders hit lap traffic on about lap 15, and that’s where the fun begins. It’s almost hard keeping track of where your favorite driver is at Bristol. There’s just so much going on. And it’s loud. Really really loud. The sound can’t escape the bowl of noise it’s trapped in with Bristol’s high grandstands. You’re relegated to pointing and nodding during all green flag runs. Yellow flags don’t just let the drivers catch their breath. As a fan, you need a break, too.

The story early in the season has been the battle royal (even if it’s been a calm battle royal so far) between the front-running duo of Brad Keselowski & Jimmie Johnson. The two can’t seem to get away from each other on the racetrack, and you know what that creates?

Conflict.

The Bristol website proclaims that it’s, “The Last Great Colosseum.” Maybe that’s being a little too dramatic. Maybe it’s not. Regardless, it’s one of my favorite races to watch all year, and I’m hoping this weeks version is all that I’ve hyped it up to be.

Here’s what to look for at Bristol this week:

  1. Brad and Jimmie. Get the boxing gloves ready. Jimmie struggled mightily at Bristol for a long time, but boy has he figured it out recently. During the last 4 races, he’s had an average finish of 4.5. Keselowski has also thrived at the high-banked short track, winning back to back in 2011-2012.
  2. The return of Rowdy. Kyle Busch isn’t just good at Bristol, he’s great. In 16 races at the half mile he’s won 5 times. Remember when the COT made it’s debut at Bristol, Kyle won the first race in the car, then complained about how bad it was in victory lane. Watch out for the #18.
  3. Matt Kenseth could go back to back. Since 2011, Kenseth has finished in the top 10 three times, and in the top five twice with an average finish of 9.25. He’s got a lot of confidence right now, and could have another strong run this week.

Prediction: Brad Keselowski has been on fire recently, and I don’t see him slowing down. He’s mad he hasn’t won a race yet this year, and that just makes him even more dangerous. I think he’ll have to battle for the win with Kyle Busch and eventually come out on top.

Tommy Joe Martins is a former NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver & a weekly racer at the historic Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway.  A graduate of the University of Mississippi, he’s been a sports columnist for The Daily Mississippian, a radio host & a life-long NASCAR fan.

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