Bristol Motor Speedway number crunching

August, 19, 2010

It occurred to me recently that these blog thingies have a word limit, and I'm regularly going over my word limit, straining the very confines of the Internet.

Words I can't waste talking about such irrelevant topics as department stores where you can get a solid bag of popcorn for a dollar -- you know what I'm talking about. Perfect butter, perfect salt.

But what I don't need too many words to explain is how pumped I get for this Bristol race every year. Heck, I just got done watching a little Wednesday night Trucks action -- how can you beat a midweek race?

The Daytona 500 might be the most anticipated race of the season, being that it ends the offseason and provides thrills. The Brickyard 400 is run at the track with the most prestige.

All that being considered, I think I get most excited for a midsummer's night race at Bristol. It's the race I recommend to friends, and it's the race I always made sure I was near a TV for while in college. Classes hadn't started yet and I had six other nights in the week to go out.

So, with that lead-in, here's the best of the prerace loop data notes for Bristol:

Bristol bully

Among active drivers, Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch are tied for the most Bristol wins with five apiece. But it's been a few years since either of them has won a Cup race at the track.

That being said, watch out for Kyle, not Kurt Busch, on Saturday night. See the swerve I just did there?

Kyle Busch has finished in the top two in five of the previous eight Bristol races and has just dominated at Bristol since 2005.

In that time, no car has been passed fewer times (among the cars that have been in each race) than Kyle Busch's, and he's run far and away the most fastest laps.

Plus, Busch is in need of a statement prior to the Chase. Expect it to be made at Bristol.

Remember him?

It wasn't too long ago that people were wondering if Jimmie Johnson could win at Bristol. Earlier this year, he checked that one off his list.

Now, people are discussing whether he's in a slump and if he'll have enough momentum come Chase time. Use common sense before you start making comments like that.

Much like Kyle Busch, Johnson needs a statement prior to the Chase, despite already having five wins this year, and Bristol could be the place.

Over the past two years, Johnson's average running position at Bristol is a 3.8, and he's run 159 fastest laps in that time. Those are numbers that definitely stand out.

The best getting better?

Yes, you heard me. Bristol races are getting better.

Thanks to Mike Forde for this note, which just backs up my point on Bristol. Before the repaving at Bristol, the race there had 991 green-flag passes and 10 green-flag passes for the lead. Good, yes.

This spring's race at Bristol features 2,427 green-flag passes, 35 of those for the lead. Yowzah.

And you know how this race always gets kicked up a notch when we go racing on an August night.

That's all I have for you this week. Enjoy the race!

Matt Willis | email

ESPN Staff Writer
Matt Willis has been a studio researcher at ESPN since 2006, working on "NASCAR Now" and "SportsCenter," among other shows. He graduated from Ithaca College in 2006 with a degree in journalism. While there, he worked on ICTV, on shows such as "Ya Think You Know Sports?" and "Sports Final." He also was a member of the IC Comedy Club and figures about half of the jokes he makes in his column are actually funny.



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