Sharpie 500 Picks

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to Bristol Motor Speedway Saturday night for the Sharpie 500, which is always one of the most exciting races of the year.

Anytime NASCAR competes under the lights, it always makes for an exciting race. But throw in the high banking, beating and banging, and hot tempers and you have a race filled with excitement.

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Bristol was always a track where the favorites fared well. Of course, that was until the new surface was unveiled for the fall race in 2007. The main difference with the new surface is that an outside groove has made it possible for drivers to legitimately pass on the outside. In previous races if a driver was slower and wouldn’t get out of the way, the faster a driver would have to push him out because you could only pass down on the bottom.

Just like last week, keep a eye on those drivers at the bottom of the points chase since they all need good finishes and might be afraid to be a little aggressive to guarantee a good finish. Those drivers outside of the top 12 might take a few extra chances to pick up valuable extra points.

Kurt Busch 12/1
Kurt Busch was the king of Bristol for many years - winning four of five races at one point - and is the only active driver with more than two wins with a total of five. Busch has struggled a bit since the new surface was installed, but still never finished worse than 15th, which is still impressive at this difficult track. We think with the way he has run this year, he might just be ready to get back to the victory lane at his favorite track.

Kyle Busch 7/1
This might be the make or break race for Kyle Busch if he has any hope of making the chase, and like his brother, Kyle has taken a real liking to Bristol. In nine races at Bristol, Kyle has two wins and six top-10 finishes and has a very good average finish of 11.2. Having won the first race at Bristol this year, he could very well sweep both races.

Live Longshot

Kevin Harvick 20/1
Kevin Harvick has had one of those years he would like to forget about, but if there was a track that could give him and his team a much needed lift it is Bristol, where he has run well throughout his career. Even though he has just one win here, what we like is how consistent he’s been at Bristol, with 11 top-10s in 17 starts. With nothing to lose, he will be all out to get a win at this point in the season.

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Posted: 8/19/09 1:00PM ET

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