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Sarah’s Weekly Picks: Bristol Edition

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The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is headed to Bristol Motor Speedway for the Food City 500 and our Sarah Handy breaks down her picks and who you may want to pay attention to this weekend.

Top Picks:

Kyle Busch: With the consistency that the driver of the No. 18 Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing has had this season it’s not smart to count him out this weekend.

Busch captured his first victory of the 2018 season last Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway. A win that many knew was coming after he hadn’t finished outside the top-5 since a seventh place showing at Atlanta.

With plenty of momentum on his side early on the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion is my go to pick for this Sunday’s Food City 500.

Busch has six Cup victories at Bristol, and is the reigning track winner, winning there last August after leading 156 laps.

It’s important to note that the last two Spring events haven’t yielded positive results with finishes of 35th and 38th. You must go all the way back to March of 2011 to see the last time Busch won a Spring race at Bristol, a race where he led similar laps to last August with 153.

However, I think this weekends event will be different and we will see Busch go back-to-back with victories.

Kevin Harvick: The driver of the No. 4 Ford Fusion for Stewart-Hass Racing has had a phenomenal start to his 2018 campaign.

With three wins heading into the eighth event of the season on Sunday no one has come close to running as consistently has Harvick, except his competitor mentioned above, Kyle Busch.

Harvick had three wins in a row coming at Atlanta, Las Vegas and Phoenix. While some bad luck did strike at Fontana where he finished 35th, the consistency is back.

With finishes of 5th and 2nd coming at Martinsville and Texas it’s only a matter of time before Harvick earns his fourth win of the 2018 season.

No one came close to having a car that could catch Kyle Busch last Sunday, except Harvick. I feel the two of them will certainly be battling for the trophy come this Sunday afternoon.

Harvick has two Cup Series victories at Bristol with his last victory coming back in August of 2016 where he led 128 laps.

Dark Horses:

Jimmie Johnson: Bristol is a track that he 7-time Champ has been very good at in his Cup Series career. However, with the way he’s run so far in 2018, a victory doesn’t seem likely.

While Johnson did win this race last Spring after leading 81 laps to win his second MENCS race in a row, he just hasn’t had the consistency needed to find victory lane this season.

In seven races in 2018 to this point, Johnson only has one top-10 which came at Fontana. It’s shocking to see that Johnson has led no laps this season and his last two finishes were a 15th place showing at Martinsville and a 35th place result after being involved in a wreck at Texas.

If Johnson can have a weekend where he is able to stay out of trouble than just maybe he will be able to capture his second top-10 finish of the season, or even his first top-5 of the season.

Denny Hamlin: In seven starts this season Hamlin has earned himself 4 top-10’s, 3 top-five’s and led 205 laps.

While Hamlin has yet to find victory lane, he’s remained consistent early in the season.

With only one victory at Bristol coming all the way back in August of 2012, Hamlin may still be one to keep an eye on this weekend.

In his last five starts at the track known as Thunder Valley, Hamlin only has one finish outside the top-10 with that being a 20th place showing in April of 2017.

Who to Watch:

Ryan Blaney: Blaney has certainly been a breakout driver this season. With five top-10’s and three top-five finishes in seven starts he’s certainly knocking on the door to victory lane.

The driver of the No. 12 Ford Fusion for Penske Racing only has one finish outside the top-15 this season with that being a 16th place result at Phoenix.

Bristol hasn’t been very kind to Blaney with only one top-10 finish in five starts but with the way he’s been running this season, I honestly don’t see him finishing outside the top-10.

Martin Truex Jr: Bristol hasn’t been a track that the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion hasn’t had the best results.

In his last five starts at Bristol, Truex only has one top-10 finish, his second-best result being a 14th place showing.

However, it’s hard to count Truex Jr out completely with how last season went and he does have a victory in 2018 which came at Fontana.

In seven starts this season, Truex Jr has five top-10’s, five top-5’s, and two poles to go along with his one victory thus far.

Who do you think will win this weekend? Let us know in the comments below and be sure to catch the Food City 500 from Bristol Motor Speedway which is set for 2pm EST on Fox or you can listen to the race on PRN Radio.

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About Sarah Handy

Sarah Handy is a NASCAR writer. You can find her on Twitter at @SarahHandy85. A college student studying Communications/Public Relations Field and an Electronics Associate at Walmart. Sarah enjoys tweeting about racing, running, reading, puzzles, video games, and photography. Born and raised in Rhode Island, Sarah avidly follows all major New England Teams (Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins & Celtics) as well as a huge fan of what she considers her “home track” New Hampshire Motor Speedway which she attends each year.

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