BRISTOL, Tenn. — Ten things to look for in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Jeff Byrd 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway:
1. Right-side tires will be the object of lots of concern after Goodyear brought a whole batch of new rubber to the track after Friday practice showed an abnormal number of flats. The drivers who manage to take it easy on the right sides will benefit.
2. Pit stops are always an adventure at half-mile tracks like Bristol where there is no room for error. One bad stop could take a top-running car and put it two or even three laps down.
3. No matter how many racing grooves there may be at Bristol, passing still often means bumping the guy in front out of the way and that means trouble if it’s not done with finesse.
4. The cars with the most horsepower — like those Fords with the new FR9 engine — will be using that extra speed to propel them off of the steep Bristol corners and onto the short straights.
5. Several top drivers, like Kevin Harvick in the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet and Greg Biffle in the No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, may be more aggressive than normal in an attempt to dig themselves out of the points hole.
6. Avoiding the wrecks is a good thing at any track — but extra so at a short track like Bristol where any kind of momentum loss can result in a huge loss in track position.
7. Drivers will have to be super cautious when it comes to entering pit lane. With such a short distance to slow down from Turn 2 and Turn 3 to get to pit lane, NASCAR will be on the watch for speeders.
8. Lapped cars become dangerous obstacles, akin to rolling chicanes, on short ovals. Faster cars must be aware of where the slows cars are on the race track.
9. Brakes are just as important as acceleration at Bristol. The faster you can stop the easier it is to avoid wrecks.
10. Late-race re-starts will be a determining factor on who wins the race. A mistake here is fatal to any driver’s hope of finishing first.