Dean of Speed's Race Day
There is lost of speculation that Jimmie Johnson is back to his five-time champion mode in the No. 48 Chevrolet. A strong run at Bristol will confirm it. (Getty)
TOP 10 THINGS TO LOOK FOR IN NASCAR FOOD CITY 500
1. The Gen 6 cars should produce lots pushing and shoving around the world’s fastest half-mile oval. They only way to pass is going to be to bump somebody out of the way.
2. Pay attention to the most aggressive drivers like Tony Stewart, Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards. They will have the advantage at Bristol.
3. If you are a Danica Patrick fan you will go away disappointed as Bristol Motor Speedway is no place for rookies. If she simply finishes, it’s a win for the No. 10 team.
4. Pay attention to Turn 3. That is where a majority of drivers will try to make a pass and it doesn’t always work out the way they want it to.
5. Four-time champion Jeff Gordon had a rough time last week at Las Vegas. Keep an eye on the No. 24 Chevrolet. He’ll be looking to bounce back on Sunday.
6. Kyle Busch would love to get back into Victory Lane and Bristol is one of his favourite tracks. He is a four- time winner there. Look for the No. 18 Toyota to be strong.
7. There is lost of speculation that Jimmie Johnson is back to his five-time champion mode in the No. 48 Chevrolet. A strong run at Bristol will confirm it.
8. Speaking of Gordon, Bristol might prove to be the perfect pay-back race for Clint Bowyer. Don’t think for a moment he’s forgotten about last year at Phoenix.
9. Two Sprint Cup part timers — A.J. Allmendinger and Brian Vickers — could play big part in Sunday’s proceedings. They both have lots to prove.
10. There will be temper tantrums at Bristol, that much is guaranteed. It should start to show at about the halfway mark of the 500 laps.
Denny Hamlin (below) has been under the gun for the past two weeks since calling out NASCAR on its new Generation 6 car. Hit with a $25,000 fine he pledges not to pay, Hamlin is motivated to redeem himself and Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway is a prefect place for him to do it. He grew up in Virginia and will be the hometown favourite.
THE BLIND SPOT
Which under-the-radar driver could surprise today?
Brian Vickers, No. 55 Toyota, NASCAR Food City 500
The Toyotas have been string in practice all weekend at Bristol and Brian Vickers has come close there before in the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota. And that team has been preparing good cars in the first three races this season for Mark Martin.
PRESSURE IS ON ROSBERG
Seven season ago when Nico Rosberg broke into Formula 1, he was anointed as the next great German racer.
But in the 128 starts since he has only a single grand prix victory and that was last season in China.
Another young German — Sebastian Vettel — has since come along to claim three successive world championships and eclipsed Rosberg along the way.
For the past two seasons Rosberg has been paired with Michael Schumacher, the patron saint of all German drivers, at Mercedes and now this season his paddock mate is Lewis Hamilton
It was thought by many in F-1 to be a deliberate move by Mercedes to light a fire under Rosberg — either perform at a higher level now or be left behind.
It is, after all, a dictum in F-1 that a driver’s first goal is to be better than his teammate. For Rosberg that could be a tall order.
Hamilton, only six months older than the 27-year-old Rosberg, already has a world championship and 21 wins in the world’s top open-wheel racing series.
The pair actually grew up together on the various karting circuits across Europe.
Rosberg, however, doesn’t think he has anything to learn from his new paddock mate.
“Mentor? Definitely not,” he said at Albert Park as he waited for the rain to stop so qualifying could resume.
“It’s always important to beat your teammate. There’s always two factors out there, outright result and beating your teammate.
“My teammate is one of the best, it’s a huge challenge.”