This week, NASCAR travels to the portion of Tennessee known as Thunder Valley.
It’s time once again for the semi annual demolition derby at the Bristol Motor Speedway where the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series resumes this Sunday for the Food City 500.
Twice a year, NASCAR lines up 43 cars on this half mile, high banked, track and hopes for the best. In most cases the best scenario involves over time for the team’s fabricators at the race shops who will be spending next week repairing wrecked cars.
The first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was held at the speedway in 1961. The race was won by Jack Smith with some driver relief help from Johnny Allen. There has been 96 Sprint Cup races there since that time. The speedway’s asphalt surface was changed to the now famous concrete oval in 1992.
The speedway has a seating capacity of 160,000 and is unique because the grandstand circles the entire oval track. It also has 197 sky boxes. The speedway stands have been sold out well in advance for 53 consecutive races. However this year, with the nation’s economy, Sunday’s race is not quite a complete sell out although speedway officials remain optimistic that all the seats will be filled by race day.
There are ten teams on the go or go home list, or those outside of the top 35 in owner’s points, with Tony Stewart leading the list with a past champion’s provisional. The defending March race champion is Jeff Gordon. Carl Edwards won the last race in August. Ryan ”The Rocket Man” Newman holds the Bristol Motor Speedway’s qualifying record, 14.908 seconds-128.709 MPH, set in March of 2003.
A total of 22 races has been won from the pole position. Mark Martin has won a record seven poles on qualifying day. Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch are tied for most wins at Bristol among active drivers with five each. Darrell Waltrip has the most wins of all time with 12.
The speedway’s double pit road is as unique and treacherous as the track itself. There are pit stalls on both the front and backstretch. Entry to the pit roads are off of turn two with the exit being at the base of turn one. Making this situation even more unique is the fact that there are only 42 available pit stalls, that means two of the competing 43 teams are going to have to share a pit area until someone falls out of the race.
Who will win the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Food City 500 this Sunday? SportsBetting.com has the odds.
Jeff Gordon 5-1
Dale Earnhardt Jr. 15-1
Jimmie Johnson 15-1
Matt Kenseth 12-1