The practice sessions for Sunday’s Cup Series event are completed, and bettors now have as much knowledge as they are going to get before locking in their picks for tomorrow’s race. Races at Bristol are long, grueling affairs, and durability is one of the key’s to success at the track. The drivers that have competitive cars on both short runs and long runs have a leg up on the rest of the field.
Post-Practice Top 5
- Mark Martin: Martin struggled at Bristol last season, but he appears ready to return to his 2009 form that saw him nearly win both events. Martin posted the third-fastest lap in the opening session Saturday, along with the top-10 lap average speed. He also posted the fastest lap in Happy Hour. In a 500-lap race that features long green flag stretches, a well-balanced car is key. Based on practice times, Martin has that overall balance needed to win.
- Tony Stewart: Stewart finished second in this race one year ago, and after topping the charts in the first practice Saturday, he appears primed to make another run at the win this weekend. His fifth-best 10-lap average speed during Happy Hour cemented his status as a contender. The No. 14 is ready for both short and long runs.
- Denny Hamlin: Like Martin, Hamlin seems ready to atone for a dismal year at Bristol in 2010. He recorded the third and 10th-fastest laps in the two practices Saturday, and he posted the sixth-best 10-lap average speed in the first practice and the best 10-lap average speed in the final session. Hamlin reeled off four straight top-six finishes at Bristol from 2008 to 2009, and he has one of the most consistent cars in the field for tomorrow’s race.
- Jimmie Johnson: Johnson is the defending winner of this weekend’s race, and he has been a contender for the win in four straight Bristol starts. He showed plenty of muscles on long runs in practice Saturday, compiling the top average speed between the two sessions.
- Kurt Busch: Busch posted top-10 speeds in both practice sessions, and he recorded a 10-lap average speed that was among the 10 best. Considering the fact that he is a five-time winner and led the most laps in this weekend’s rave last season, he is definitely on the short list of potential winners.
Post-Practice Top Sleeper
- Joey Logano: He has a terrible track record at Bristol, but Logano’s practice times Saturday are tough to ignore. He ranked in the top-five in terms of 10-lap average speed in both practices, and he posted the fourth-fastest lap overall in Happy Hour. Logano has yet to finish in the top-15 in four career starts at Bristol, but a talented young driver in a fast car always has potential.