Irwin Tools Night Race Betting News and Notes

Irwin Tools Night Race Betting News and Notes

Bristol Odds & Ends
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Bristol Motor Speedway Data

Race #: 24 of 36 (08-25-12)
Track Size: 0.533-miles
Banking/Corners: 26 degrees
Banking/Frontstretch: 5 to 9 degrees
Banking/Backstretch: 4 to 8 degrees
Race Length: 500 laps / 266.5 miles

Top 12 Driver Rating at Bristol


Kyle Busch  102.3
Matt Kenseth  100.8
Jeff Gordon  99.8
Brad Keselowski  99.4
Greg Biffle  97.0
Kurt Busch  94.0
Jimmie Johnson  93.2
Kevin Harvick  89.5
Ryan Newman  89.5
Tony Stewart  89.2
Carl Edwards  88.9
Dale Earnhardt Jr  88.1

Note: Driver Rating compiled from 2005-2012 races (15 total) at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Qualifying/Race Data

2011 pole winner: Ryan Newman, Chevrolet (122.811 mph, 15.624 sec., 08-25-11)

2011 race winner: Brad Keselowski, Dodge (96.753 mph, 2:45:16, 08-27-11)

Track qualifying record: Ryan Newman, Dodge (128.709 mph, 14.908 sec., 03-21-03)

Track race record: Chris Glotzbach, Chevrolet (101.074 mph, 2:38:12, 07-11-71)

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Driver Highlights - Bristol
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Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M / Bondo Ford)

-- Six top fives, 11 top 10s; one pole
-- Average finish of 11.8
-- Average Running Position of 12.4, fourth-best
-- Driver Rating of 97.0, fifth-best
-- 282 Fastest Laps Run, sixth-most
-- Average Green Flag Speed of 114.286 mph, fourth-fastest
-- 5,513 Laps in the Top 15 (73.4%), third-most

Kurt Busch (No. 51 Hendrickcars.com Chevrolet)

-- Five wins, six top fives, 13 top 10s; one pole
-- Average finish of 13.1
-- Average Running Position of 12.9, fifth-best
-- Driver Rating of 94.0, sixth-best
-- 698 Green Flag Passes, fifth-most
-- 5,049 Laps in the Top 15 (67.2%), sixth-most
-- 373 Quality Passes, third-most

Kyle Busch (No. 18 M&M's Toyota)

-- Five wins, seven top fives, 10 top 10s
-- Average finish of 10.6
-- Average Running Position of 13.2, seventh-best
-- Series-best Driver Rating of 102.3
-- Series-high 550 Fastest Laps Run
-- Series-best Average Green Flag Speed of 114.326 mph
-- 4,892 Laps in the Top 15 (65.1%), eighth-most

Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 88 National Guard/Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet)

-- One win, seven top fives, 12 top 10s
-- Average finish of 11.8
-- Average Running Position of 14.1, eighth-best
-- Driver Rating of 88.1, 12th-best
-- 791 Green Flag Passes, second-most
-- Average Green Flag Speed of 114.145 mph, eighth-fastest
-- 4,498 Laps in the Top 15 (59.9%), ninth-most
-- 317 Quality Passes, 10th-most

Carl Edwards (No. 99 Fastenal Ford)

-- Two wins, four top fives, seven top 10s; two poles
-- Average finish of 13.9
-- Average Running Position of 14.8, 11th-best
-- Driver Rating of 88.9, 11th-best
-- 277 Fastest Laps Run, seventh-most
-- 4,897 Laps in the Top 15 (65.2%), seventh-most

Jeff Gordon (No. 24 AARP Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet)

-- Five wins, 15 top fives, 21 top 10s; five poles
-- Average finish of 12.1
-- Series-best Average Running Position of 9.6
-- Driver Rating of 99.8, third-best
-- 310 Fastest Laps Run, fourth-most
-- 591 Green Flag Passes, 12th-most
-- Average Green Flag Speed of 114.301 mph, third-fastest
-- 6,131 Laps in the Top 15 (81.6%), second-most
-- 403 Quality Passes, second-most

Denny Hamlin (No. 11 FedEx Ground Toyota)


-- Three top fives, six top 10s
-- Average finish of 15.8
-- Driver Rating of 86.3, 13th-best
-- 272 Fastest Laps Run, eighth-most
-- 668 Green Flag Passes, seventh-most
-- Average Green Flag Speed of 114.103 mph, 12th-fastest

Kevin Harvick (No. 29 RHEEM Chevrolet)

-- One win, nine top fives, 12 top 10s
-- Average finish of 12.4
-- Average Running Position of 14.1, ninth-best
-- Driver Rating of 89.5, eighth-best
-- 234 Fastest Laps Run, 12th-most
-- 713 Green Flag Passes, fourth-most
-- Average Green Flag Speed of 114.204 mph, seventh-fastest

Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe's Dover White Chevrolet)

-- One win, six top fives, 12 top 10s; one pole
-- Average finish of 14.6
-- Average Running Position of 12.9, sixth-best
-- Driver Rating of 93.2, seventh-best
-- 428 Fastest Laps Run, second-most
-- 5,331 Laps in the Top 15 (71.0%), fourth-most
-- 310 Quality Passes, 11th-most

Matt Kenseth (No. 17 Valvoline NextGen Ford)

-- Two wins, 10 top fives, 17 top 10s; one pole
-- Average finish of 11.6
-- Average Running Position of 10.3, second-best
-- Driver Rating of 100.8, second-best
-- 368 Fastest Laps Run, third-most
-- Average Green Flag Speed of 114.321 mph, second-fastest
-- Series-high 6,169 Laps in the Top 15 (82.1%)
-- Series-high 412 Quality Passes

Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge)

-- Two wins, two top fives, two top 10s
-- Average finish of 10.4
-- Average Running Position of 12.4, third-best
-- Driver Rating of 99.4, fourth-best
-- Average Green Flag Speed of 114.275 mph, fifth-fastest

Ryan Newman (No. 39 Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet)

-- One top five, 12 top 10s; three poles
-- Average finish of 16.5
-- Average Running Position of 14.3, 10th-best
-- Driver Rating of 89.5, ninth-best
-- 612 Green Flag Passes, 10th-most
-- Average Green Flag Speed of 114.099 mph, 13th-fastest
-- 5,187 Laps in the Top 15 (69.0%), fifth-most
-- 356 Quality Passes, fifth-most

Tony Stewart (No. 14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet)

-- One win, six top fives, eight top 10s; one pole
-- Average finish of 17.3
-- Average Running Position of 15.3, 13th-best
-- Driver Rating of 89.2, 10th-best
-- 295 Fastest Laps Run, fifth-most
-- Average Green Flag Speed of 114.135 mph, 10th-fastest
-- 4,168 Laps in the Top 15 (55.5%), 12th-most
-- 280 Quality Passes, 12th-most

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Irwin Tools Preview
By Micah Roberts
VegasInsider.com

This Saturday night we get to see the new and improved racing at Bristol Motor Speedway's resurfaced half-mile track. That may sound funny because Bristol had just repaved their track in 2007 with a new progressive banking that allowed for multiple grooves. The drivers loved the racing because they weren't all fighting for the same spot, which resulted in less banging, less crashes and less flare-ups at the end of the races. It also resulted in lesser fans.

Each ensuing year since the 2007 repave, the once-hardest ticket in the world to obtain became the easiest. The final straw for Speedway Motorsports CEO Bruton Smith came in March when the 150,000 seat facility was less than half full. The fans had spoken to the degree of how much they disliked the multi-grooves and to his credit, Smith immediately made plans to restore the track to its old layout.

Tony Stewart was one of three drivers to test the track out in a June session and indicated things might be back to the 'racing oughta-be', as the Bristol tagline says.

"Well, you've definitely lost the top groove," said Stewart. "Guys who run up there aren't going to be able to do that because it's pretty slick up there. There's going to be less room to race, that's for sure. We've gone from a three-groove track to two grooves and any time you've got less room to get around it can get pretty interesting.

"I'm one of the guys who likes that high groove so it's really going to change things up for me. It'll change things for everybody though because when you take away room to race on a track this small with 43 cars… yeah, it's going to tighten things up."

With things being back to normal, we can go back to looking at a select group of drivers like we did in the past. It took a tough aggressive driver to win at Bristol who had no fear of irritating anyone. The fastest way around the track is the bottom again, and if someone is slower and won't let you pass, you make him move by all means necessary.

Kyle Busch is a five-time winner at Bristol with four of the wins coming on the surface just bulldozed out of the way. However, he did win on the old surface's last run. He has that type of attitude needed to get the most out of his car and he's in a desperate situation as he needs one more win to secure his chances in the Chase. Only three races remain until the final 12 drivers will be known. The clock is ticking.

Brad Keselowski probably isn't too happy about the changes on the track because he's won the last two Bristol events. However, he should be in good shape because he beats and bangs with the best of them. He battles for his space on the track with the best of them and has earned all the drivers respect because of it.

Matt Kenseth is a two-time winner at Bristol, both of which came of the old layout. Although not exactly known for being a hard nose tough driver, Kenseth has always had what it takes to get around the track and with a win in sight he has no fear of ruffling some feathers.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. has also been a driver that fared very well on the old Bristol layout. He won in 204 and always seemed to finish within the top-5 before the track went to a multi-groove layout. He now has a car that is one of best set-up weekly and should contend for the win this week.

Between Busch and Keselowski, they have won six of the past seven Bristol races. Despite the changes to the track, they are the starting point for this week.

Top-5 Finish Prediction:

1) #18 Kyle Busch (7/1)
2) #2 Brad Keselowski (8/1)
3) #17 Matt Kenseth (10/1)
4) #88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. (12/1)
5) #14 Tony Stewart (10/1)

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2012 Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol: Chassis Selections

#1-Jamie McMurray: Crew Chief Kevin "Bono" Manion and the #1 Bass Pro Shops/Allstate team will bring Chassis #1104 to Bristol. This chassis was raced in 2011 at Charlotte for the All-Star race, finishing 17th; the Coca-Cola 600 finishing 37th; both Michigan races last year, finishing 19th and 23rd; Dover, finishing 15th. Earlier this season Chassis #1104 has seen action at Texas, finishing 14th; and Dover, finishing 19th.

#2-Brad Keselowski: and the #2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger team will race chassis PRS-816 during Saturday night's Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Brad Keselowski last raced this chassis to a 12th-place finish at Dover in May. It has been updated to the current Penske Racing specification. The winner of the last two NSCS races at BMS, Keselowski will attempt a hat trick in Saturday night's event. Only four other drivers have accomplished three wins in a row at Bristol: Fred Lorenzen, Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip and Kurt Busch. The featured tag line on the rear bumper of the #2 Miller Lite Dodge this weekend will read "Inductee Rusty Wallace." This is a tribute to Wallace's 2013 induction into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. During his time in the #2 Miller-sponsored car, the former Penske Racing driver accumulated 37 wins, 145 top-five finishes, 252 top-10 results, while leading a total of 15,012 laps.

#5-Kasey Kahne: crew chief Kenny Francis will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 5-713. Kahne recorded an average finish of 9.7 when racing this car earlier this season at Auto Club Speedway, Texas and Darlington. He also qualified inside the top five at each event. In 17 Sprint Cup starts at Bristol, Kahne has three top-five finishes and six top-10s. Kahne earned his best finish at the short track in August 2007 when he started from the pole position and finished second. He crossed the line 11th in this Bristol race one year ago.

#9-Marcos Ambrose: the #9 Richard Petty Motorsports team has prepared chassis No. 743 for this weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race at Bristol Motor Speedway. This DEWALT Ford was run previously this season at Bristol and Darlington.

#14-Tony Stewart: and crew chief Steve Addington are bringing Chassis No. 14-708, which debuted in May in the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway where Stewart rallied Chassis No. 14-708 from its 17th-place starting spot to finish third. Its second and most recent start came in June at Dover. It endured a much different outing, qualifying 29th and finishing 25th, 69 laps down after getting caught up in a 12-car accident on lap 10 of the 400-lap race around the 1-mile concrete oval. With new sheet metal all around, Chassis No. 14-708 returns to the concrete for its third career start in the night race at Bristol.

#15-Clint Bowyer: Primary chassis No. 724 has raced twice in 2012. It started 16th and finished fourth at the spring Bristol race and started fourth and finished fifth at Dover. Backup chassis No. 712 finished 30th at Phoenix after multiple cut tires put the car several laps down. It served as the backup at New Hampshire. Bowyer will make his 14th career NSCS start at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday night. In 13 previous starts, he has four top-five and six top-10 finishes. He finished a career-best third twice first in fall 2007 and again in spring 2008 where he led 81 laps. On average he starts 20th and finishes 18th.

#16-Greg Biffle: and the Matt Puccia led #16 3M Bondo Ford Fusion will bring primary chassis RK-807 which last ran at Dover in June and finished 11th. The backup chassis, RK-803, last ran at Pocono and finished 15th.

#17-Matt Kenseth: will run primary chassis RK-802 which last raced at New Hampshire in July. This weekend at Bristol, Kenseth will pilot the #17 Valvoline NextGen Ford Fusion. In 25 Cup starts at Bristol, Kenseth has completed 12,225 of 12,513 laps (97.7 percent) and led for 897 laps. Kenseth has an average starting position of 17.0 and an average finishing position of 11.6 at BMS. Kenseth has achieved two wins, 10 top-five and 17 top-10 finishes at Bristol in the Cup series.

#22-Sam Hornish Jr. and his Todd Gordon-led Penske Racing #22 Team will be utilizing their "PRS-817" Shell-Pennzoil Dodge Charger this weekend at Bristol. This is the same car that AJ Allmendinger raced in the March 25 race at Auto Club Speedway (started 25th and finished 15th) and again in the June 3 race at Dover (started 23rd and finished 16th). The "PRS-807" chassis will serve as the backup Shell-Pennzoil Dodge for this weekend. It was in the #22 team transporter serving as the backup at Phoenix, Bristol and Martinsville, but has never seen any track time to date. In six career Sprint Cup starts at Bristol entering this weekend, Sam Hornish Jr. is still looking for his first top-10 finish there. He has a 25.3 average start and 31.5 average finish. He has completed 91.2 percent (2,743 of 3,009) of possible laps and is hoping to lead his first lap at BMS in Saturday night's battle under the lights. Hornish started 23rd and finished 13th in the March Nationwide Series race at Bristol. He started 20th and finished 14th in his other NNS Bristol start in the August 2008 race. In NNS competition at BMS, he has a 21.5 average start and 13.5 average finish. He has completed every possible lap (550 of 550).

#27-Paul Menard will pilot Chassis No. 347 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in the IRWIN Tools Night Race. This #27 Schrock/Menards Chevy was recently utilized at Darlington Raceway in May, where Menard started from the 14th position and finished 13th. The chassis was also used in 2012 competition at Bristol Motor Speedway in March where Menard started from the 11th position and finished 10th.

#29-Kevin Harvick: will pilot Chassis No. 383 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in this weekend's IRWIN Tools Night Race. Built new for competition during the 2012 season, Harvick raced this chassis at Phoenix International Raceway in March and Dover International Speedway in June, collecting second-place finishes in both races.

#31-Jeff Burton will race chassis No. 385 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in the IRWIN Tools Night Race. Burton has driven this #31 CAT Global Mining Chevy four times this season including Pocono Raceway in August (started-23rd, finished-22nd), the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May (started-22nd, finished-19th), Texas Motor Speedway in April (started-24th, finished 29th) and Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March (started-22nd, finished 14th).

#39-Ryan Newman Chassis No. 39-655 has three starts to its credit, including one already this season at Bristol. Chassis No. 39-655 took the track for the first time in last season's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where Newman made a run for the top-10 before getting tangled up in a multi-car melee on lap 303. The accident forced Newman to take his #39 to the garage for extensive repairs. He returned to the track more than 40 laps down and finished the race 31st. This season, chassis No. 39-655 has become the team's concrete specialty car. Earlier this season at Bristol, Newman qualified third but finished a disappointing 12th after a tight-handling racecar hampered his efforts. He had another third-place qualifying run at Dover in June, but he had to battle back from a pit-road penalty and from being two laps down to finish 15th. Last week, the crew took Chassis No. 39-655 to test at Nashville Superspeedway in Lebanon, Tenn.

#42-Juan Pablo Montoya: crew chief Chris "Shine" Heroy and the #42 Target Chevy team will race with Chassis #1111 to Bristol this weekend. This Chassis made its debut in last season's finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, leading two laps and finishing 31st after an accident put the #42 four laps down. This season, this chassis has seen track time at Bristol finishing eighth, Darlington Raceway, finishing 27th and Dover, finishing 28th.

#43-Aric Almirola:: The #43 team has prepared chassis No. 710 for Bristol. This car ran earlier this season at the March Bristol race and also at Dover International Speedway where Almirola earned his season-best sixth-place finish.

#48-Jimmie Johnson: Chassis No. 650 serves as the primary for Johnson at Bristol where it last ran in March, finishing 9th, the chassis ran five races in 2011 with a 2nd place finishes at Atlanta and Auto Club Speedway. Chassis No. 669 serves as the backup and last ran at Las Vegas in March to a 2nd place finish.

#55-Brian Vickers: will drive MWR chassis No. 722 which has raced three times in 2012. It started 25th and finished fifth at Bristol in March with Vickers behind the wheel, started 16th and finished 21st in the All-Star race with Mark Martin and started 39th and finished 30th at Kentucky Speedway with Michael Waltrip behind the wheel. Backup chassis No. 708 has severed backup duties at multiple races, but has not raced. It served as the backup at Las Vegas, Fontanta, Texas, Kansas, Darlington, All-Star, Charlotte, both races at Pocono, Dover and Kentucky. Vickers owns 15 starts at Bristol Motor Speedway He has a career-best finish of fifth which came in March of 2012. He has led 126 laps and has five top-15 finishes.

#88-Dale Earnhardt Jr.: crew chief Steve Letarte and the #88 crew will unload Hendrick Motorsports Chassis No. 88-745. This is a brand new chassis that has not been raced. In 25 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Bristol Motor Speedway, Earnhardt has scored one win, seven top-five finishes and 12 top-10s. The 37-year-old driver has an average finishing position of 11.8 and has completed 98.8 percent of all laps he's attempted (12,365 of 12,513 total) at the short track. He has led 745 laps at the .533-mile oval.

#99-Carl Edwards the #99 Fastenal Team will be bringing RK-811 for the weekend. This car first raced at Texas in April (finished eighth), Charlotte in May (finished ninth) and Kentucky in June (finished 20th). In 16 starts at the 0.533-mile bullring, Edwards has two wins, four top-five, seven top-10 finishes and two poles. His average start is 17.8, and his average finish is 13.9. Edwards has completed 7588 of 8013 (94.7%) laps attempted at Bristol.

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Driver Handicaps: Bristol
By: Jeff Wackerlin
Racingone.com

BRISTOL, Tenn. - Motor Racing Network brings you our weekly detailed look at some of the field for Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series IRWIN Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Who's HOT at Bristol
• Brad Keselowski has won the last two races after combining to lead 321 laps.
• Kyle Busch has five wins and has led 1,350 laps in his last 11 starts.
• Jimmie Johnson has finished in the top 10 in six of the last seven races, including a win in the 2010 spring race.
• Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch each have scored five wins.
• Two-time winner Matt Kenseth has posted a 5.4 average finish in his last five starts.
• Jamie McMurray and Martin Truex Jr. each have finished in the top 10 in their last two starts.

Keep an Eye On at Bristol
• Ryan Newman (11.1), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (11.3) and Carl Edwards (11.7) each rank in the top five in average finish among drivers that have competed in all of the last 10 races at Bristol.
• Series points leader Greg Biffle has finished eighth or better in four of his last six starts at Bristol.
• Kasey Kahne is third in laps led (305) among drivers that have competed in all of the last 10 races at Bristol.
• Bristol is one of only two oval tracks that Marcos Ambrose has recorded three top 10s at.
• Clint Bowyer will return in the same car he finished fourth with in his first Bristol start with Michael Waltrip Racing in the spring.
• Kevin Harvick, who will have Gil Martin back as crew chief this weekend, has posted a 12.4 average finish in 23 starts at Bristol.
• Brian Vickers will be back in the No. 55 this weekend after leading 125 laps en route to a fifth-place finish in the spring at Bristol.
• Jeff Burton, who is coming off 15th top 10 at Bristol, participated in the Goodyear Tire test at Bristol in June.

MotorRacingNetwork.com Staff Picks

Jeff Wackerlin: Clint Bowyer
Pete Pistone: Brad Keselowski
Ricky Hamber: Kyle Busch
John Singler: Kyle Busch

Top 20 Driver Notes - Ordered by current standings

(All stats/notes are in regards to Bristol unless noted)

Greg Biffle: Won the pole and finished 13th in the spring; Has finished in the top 10 in four of the last six races; 11.8 average finish and 397 laps led in 19 starts; Fifth-best driver rating; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 807) that he finished 11th with at Dover International Speedway in June.

Matt Kenseth: Winner of this event in 2005 and 2006; Second-place finish in the spring was sixth consecutive top 10; Led 110 laps in this event last year; Second-best driver rating; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 802) that he finished 13th with at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in July.

Dale Earnhardt Jr: 12.0 average finish in nine starts with Hendrick Motorsports; Last of 12 top 10s in 25 starts came in the 2010 spring race; Fourth-best average finish (11.3) among all drivers that have competed in all of the last 10 races; Will debut a new car (chassis No. 745) in the IRWIN Tools Night Race.

Jimmie Johnson: Winner of the 2010 spring race; Has finished ninth or better in six of the last seven races; Second in laps led (708) among all drivers that have competed in all of the last 10 races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 650) that he finished ninth with at Bristol in March.

Brad Keselowski: Combined to lead 321 laps en route to the win in the last two races; Leads all drivers with a 10.4 average finish; Fourth-best driver rating; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 816) that he finished 12th with at Dover International Speedway in June.

Martin Truex Jr: Has posted an average finish of 2.5 in last two starts; Second-place finish in this event last year is best in 13 starts.

Clint Bowyer: Finished fourth in first track start with Michael Waltrip Racing in March; Finish was sixth top 10 in 13 starts; 17.8 average finish; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 712) that he raced at Bristol in March.

Kevin Harvick: Winner of the 2005 spring race; Last of 12 top 10s (sixth) came in the 2011 spring race; 12.4 average finish in 23 starts; Will have Gil Martin back as crew chief starting this weekend; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 383) that he finished second with at Phoenix International Raceway and Dover International Speedway.

Tony Stewart: 20.0 average finish in seven starts with Stewart-Haas Racing; Best finish with SHR came in the 2010 spring race in second; Winner of this event in 2001; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 708) that he finished third and 25th, respectively, at Darlington Raceway and Dover International Speedway.

Denny Hamlin: Finished seventh in this event last year for sixth top 10; 15.8 average finish and 282 laps led in 13 starts; Has yet to lead a lap in last six starts.

Kasey Kahne: Finished 37th in first track start with Hendrick Motorsports in the spring after an accident; Last of six top 10s came in the 2011 spring race in ninth; Third in laps led (305) among all drivers that have competed in all of the last 10 races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 713) that he posted a 9.7 average finish in three races this season with the most recent coming at Darlington Raceway (8th).

Carl Edwards: Finished ninth in this event last year for seventh top 10 in 6 starts; Fifth in average finish (11.7) and fourth in laps led (284) among all drivers that have competed in all of the last 10 races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 811) that he finished 20th with at Kentucky Speedway in June.

Ryan Newman: Won the pole and finished eighth in this event last year; Finish was 12th top 10 in 21 starts; Third-best average finish (11.1) among all drivers that have competed in all of the last 10 races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 655) that he finished 12th with at Bristol in March.

Kyle Busch: Last of five wins came in the 2011 spring race; Has posted a 23.0 average finish in last two starts; Leads all drivers in average finish (8.7) and laps led (1,311) that have competed in all of the last 10 races; Leads all drivers with a 102.3 driver rating.

Jeff Gordon: Last of five wins came in this event in 2002; Led 206 laps and finished third in this event last year; Finish was 21st top 10 in 39 starts; Third-best driver rating.

Paul Menard: Coming off second top 10 in 10 starts; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 347) that he finished 10th with at Bristol in March.

Marcos Ambrose: Finished 10th in this event last year for third top 10 in seven starts; Has yet to lead a lap; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 743) that he finished 36th with at Bristol in March.

Joey Logano: 24.1 average finish in seven starts; Best finish came in this event last year in 13th.

Jamie McMurray: Has finished eighth or better in four of the last five races; 4.0 average finish in the last two August races; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 1104) that he most recently finished 19th with at Dover International Speedway.

Jeff Burton: Coming off 15th top 10 in 37 starts; Won the 2008 spring race; Will return in the same car (chassis No. 385) that he most recently finished 22nd with at Pocono Raceway.

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What’s old is new again at Bristol Motor Speedway
By: Greg Engle
Examiner.com

It’s always one of the most anticipated races during the NASCAR Sprint Cup season. But this trip to Bristol Motor Speedway for Saturday’s Irwin Tools Night Race offers a different challenge then the last time the series visited here in the spring leaving teams, drivers and fans a little unsure what will happen.

The .533 mile track underwent a reconfiguration that saw the top lane of the concrete shaved in an attempt to make the racing here more like it was prior to the installation of progressive banking and a repaving in 2007. Whether the new work will bring back the old racing is still a question mark. One thing is a little bit more sure however; the favorites for this week’s race. Brad Keselowski won here in the spring race and won this race last year. With the momentum he’s had from the last few weeks, three top five runs that include two runner-up finishes in the last two races, Keselowski should be the class of the field Saturday. That is as long as his Penske Motorsports team can tame the new configuration.

“Bristol to me is a man’s racetrack and I respect that place so much,” Keselowski said. “I think it takes a level of respect for it. From day one, the first day I walked in there, I respected it but I also wanted to win there. I wanted to prove to myself and others that I could be the man to win at a man’s racetrack. So it’s always been a challenge to me and it’s one that, for some reason, has taken a piece of me somewhere deep inside and made it rise to the next level. I just love it for that reason. There are few things in life that can do that to anyone and Bristol is that place for me.”

Keselowski can accomplish a rare feat at Bristol Saturday; three consecutive wins, something that hasn’t happened since Kurt Busch did it in 2003-2004.

“To be on the cusp of three wins in a row there is something that was, and still is, beyond my wildest dreams,” Keselowski said. “But here we are and we are going to do everything in our power to get it done.”

Unlike Keselowski, Kyle Busch hasn’t been having a stellar season to date. He had a poor finish here in the spring thanks to being caught up in a crash, but he has won four of the last seven races here so could easily regain his competitive form Saturday night.

“We kind of upset the apple cart last fall – we just didn’t have a very good weekend there,” Busch said. “With the Truck race, we kind of got crashed out. The Nationwide race – I barely beat Joey (Logano), which was good – we won. Then the Cup race, we just made so many changes to the car based on how the Nationwide car ran that it threw us for a loop. In the spring, we never got the chance to get going since we ended up in a wreck early in the race.”

“I like going to Bristol. It’s always fun,” he added. “What set in there to allow me to run as well as I do? I’ve got no idea. It just kind of clicked. I think I missed a little bit of some of that stuff last fall, just not having the car set up right and trying too many different things that we’re not quite used to. We ventured from the path a little bit and it seems like, when you can get a good setup somewhere, you ought to stick with it and try to just fine-tune on it a little bit instead of saying, ‘This isn’t working this time or it’s not working on this tire.’ The track, most of the time, will influence how your setup should be, not the tire. We’ll see if the changes throws us for a loop or not.”

While Keselowski and Busch have split wins in six of the last seven races, Jimmie Johnson owns the seventh win. He went to victory here in the spring race in 2010. Considering the run he’s been on the last few races, Johnson could easily charge to the front and stay there Saturday night.

Party Crasher: Matt Kenseth finished second to Keselowski in March and he finished sixth in this race last year leading 110 laps. He’s also a two-time Bristol winner and has run the most laps among the 15 top and that could be the key Saturday night. Avoiding the carnage that can occur here can lead to victory. Kenseth has shown he can do just that and put a Ford in victory lane Saturday night.

Bottom Line: 82 of 103 races have been won from a top-10 starting position, including 52 from the first four spots. The deepest in the field that a race winner has started is 38th, by Elliott Sadler in 2001.

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Re: Irwin Tools Night Race Betting News and Notes

NASCAR Practice Notes & Driver Ratings     
By Micah Roberts
VegasInsider.com

Practice Notes - Bristol

Rating     Driver     Odds     Practice 1     Practice 2     Qualified*     Bristol**
1     Kyle Busch     9/2     10th     5th     10th     32nd
Notes: Five-time winner, including four of the past seven; outstanding during Friday practices.

2     Brad Keselowski     7/1     2nd     2nd     2nd     1st
Notes: Won past two starts; looking to become fifth driver with three straight Bristol wins.

3     Matt Kenseth     10/1     17th     4th     17th     2nd
Notes: Two-time winner with 11.6 average finish in 25 starts; using New Hampshire chassis.

4     Kevin Harvick     20/1     13th     40th     13th     11th
Notes: 2005 winner; should thrive on new/old layout; using runner-up chassis from Phoenix and Dover.

5     Denny Hamlin     12/1     8th     6th     8th     20th
Notes: 2009 runner-up with 15.8 average finish in 13 starts; good average speeds during practices.

6     Greg Biffle     12/1     3rd     9th     3rd     13th
Notes: 11.8 average finish, best among all drivers never to win at Bristol; using Dover chassis.

7     Dale Earnhardt Jr.     10/1     16th     20th     16th     15th
Notes: 2004 winner with six other top-5 finishes; using a brand new chassis this week.

8     Kasey Kahne     12/1     12th     10th     12th     37th
Notes: 2007 runner-up; using chassis this week that averaged 9.7 finish in three 2012 races.

9     Tony Stewart     12/1     21st     26th     21st     14th
Notes: 2001 winner; struggled in practice, but track is ideal for his style; using third-place Darlington car.

10     Martin Truex Jr.     25/1     15th     18th     15th     3rd
Notes: Finished third and runner-up in last two starts; average speeds indicated being good on long runs.

* Qualifying rained out. Starting lineup set by order of finish in the first practice session.

* Results from the March 18, 2012 race held at Bristol. Following that race, a milling process was done on the surface to eliminate the progressive banking in the upper groove of the turns. The track should now run closer to Bristol pre-2007.

Betting Notes: When it came time to look at this race earlier in the week, I was already pretty set in the notion that trying to search deeper than Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch was a futile task. And why not? The two had combined to win six of the past seven Bristol races.

As we've seen over the years at Bristol -- the old and new layout, drivers win at Bristol in bunches. David Pearson, Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt and Rusty Wallace kind of taught me early on that drivers become addicted to Bristol. They become greedy and they don't like to share any of the territory that has become theirs.

It hasn't seemed to matter what era or layout the track had, a certain type of personality was usually in line to win at Bristol. And I don't think that has changed here as we get our first look at the new Bristol surface without the progressive banking. Things should be tighter and tougher at Bristol than the drivers have been used to since the fall of 2007 and it will take a tough driver to win. And now I've come back full circle to two of the toughest, hardest running drivers on tour, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch.

The two practice sessions didn't deter my thinking, either. Both were good and happy with their cars. However, one driver did pique my interest, and that was Kevin Harvick. Not in the sense that I'll be throwing all my marbles on him this week, but more in the sense that if this were a horse race, I'd be playing the No. 29 on top, along with the No. 2 and No. 18 in all exotic combinations. You know, just to be safe, because if that trifecta hits with him on top, it's going to be a bomb.

For those who play the horses, you know what I mean when dealing with two horses that are far and away the class of the field, but you have that 'just maybe' sense on another entry.

Kevin Harvick has kind of been quiet, on and off the track. The combination of fatherhood and not having a car capable of winning has kept his name out of the media lately. But when I saw all the RCR cars rolling out strong during the first session, I couldn't help back to remember a time when Harvick was one of the drivers I always keyed on at Bristol. I finally won a race with him in 2005, but also had so many near wins along the way, losing what seemed like sure wins that Elliott Sadler and Kurt Busch took away. In Busch's case, it was multiple times that Harvick finished behind him.

Of all the drivers I'm not taking to win, but should present the best value in matchups, Clint Bowyer looks like a driver that should be able to run in the top-5 near the end of the race.

Good Luck and enjoy your night of racing on the new and improved Bristol Motor Speedway. We'll see if the racing really is 'Racing the way it oughta be'.

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