Sports

/

ArcaMax

NASCAR at Bristol: How to watch, track info, starting order

Alex Andrejev, The Charlotte Observer on

Published in Auto Racing

Cup racing returns after less than a week as NASCAR heads to Bristol Motor Speedway for Sunday's 3:30 p.m. race on FS1. Brad Keselowski will start on the pole with Aric Almirola in the front row. The starting order was determined by random draw.

The Food City 500, renamed the Supermarket Heroes 500, will be the sport's first short-track race of the season on the half-mile oval in Bristol, Tenn. It will feature a reduced downforce package introduced for 2020, which is aimed at increasing driver input on short tracks and road courses.

"This package is a lot like the 2018 package," No. 18 crew chief Adams Stevens said, noting that there are also key differences.

"They really changed the aero balance and what you're going to have to do with the mechanical balance to sort that back out," Stevens said.

Last year's Food City 500 race was won by Kyle Busch. The second race of the season at the same track was won by another Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin, who has already secured two wins this season, making both drivers strong contenders for a top finish Sunday.

WHO TO WATCH

NO. 18 KYLE BUSCH

Although Busch is coming off two disappointing races at Charlotte -- a second-place finish at Tuesday's Truck race that the driver said was the result of broken equipment, followed by an 29th-place finish at Thursday's Cup race, the reigning Cup Series champion could break out of his slump with a stage or race win this weekend.

Stevens said that Busch's ability to adapt to the "nuances of the track" is what has made the driver successful at Bristol in the past.

"He can make time on the bottom, in the PJ1," Stevens said. "He can make time around the top when that's the place to be, and he's not scared to move around, and really is exceptional at getting through the lapped traffic as well."

Adapting on-the-fly will be necessary this weekend, since there will again be no practice or qualifying round before the race as part of NASCAR's coronavirus event protocols.

"If you had to circle a place to get your mojo back, this would probably be it," Stevens said about Busch.

NO. 4 KEVIN HARVICK

A driver not lacking for mojo is Kevin Harvick. The current points leader stands alone in finishing in the top-10 in each of the opening eight races this season. Last year at the track, however, Harvick struggled. He finished in 13th at the Food City 500 and exited early from the August Night Race at Bristol with a clutch issue.

But the No. 4 is riding a hot streak right now. Harvick led the most laps on Thursday at Charlotte and has finished in second, first, third, fifth and tenth, respectively, in the last five races.

Before the season, Harvick said he was looking forward to the new downforce rules package, which is similar to the 2018 package his team raced well with. The veteran driver could be back to Victory Lane.

HOW TO WATCH NASCAR'S SUPERMARKET HEROES 500

Race: Supermarket Heroes 500

Distance: 266.5 miles, 500 laps (stage breaks on laps 125, 250 and 500)

Where: Bristol Motor Speedway

When: 3:30 p.m. Sunday

TV: FS1 (broadcast starts at 3 p.m.)

Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

2019 Race Winner: Kyle Busch

Also this week: Xfinity race at Bristol (Monday at 1 p.m. on FS1), Trucks race at Atlanta (Saturday at 1 p.m. on FS1)

SUPERMARKET HEROES 500 LINEUP

Position, Driver, Car No.

1. Brad Keselowski, 2

2. Aric Almirola, 10

3. Joey Logano, 22

4. Ryan Blaney, 12

5. Martin Truex Jr., 19

6. Chase Elliott, 9

7. Kyle Busch, 18

8. Kevin Harvick, 4

9. Matt DiBenedetto, 21

 

10. Denny Hamlin, 11

11. Alex Bowman, 88

12. Kurt Busch, 1

13. William Byron, 24

14. Matt Kenseth, 42

15. Erik Jones, 20

16. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 47

17. Ryan Newman, 6

18. John Hunter Nemechek, 38

19. Chris Buescher, 17

20. Austin Dillon, 3

21. Tyler Reddick, 8

22. Cole Custer, 41

23. Clint Bowyer, 14

24. Jimmie Johnson, 48

25. Michael McDowell, 34

26. Bayley Currey, 53

27. Joey Gase, 51

28. Quin Houff, 0

29. Ty Dillon, 13

30. Gray Gaulding, 27

31. Garrett Smithley, 77

32. Corey LaJoie, 32

33. Ryan Preece, 37

34. Brennan Poole, 15

35. Christopher Bell, 95

36. Bubba Wallace, 43

37. Daniel Suarez, 96

38. Timmy Hill, 66

39. B.J. McLeod, 78

40. J.J. Yeley, 7

(c)2020 The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.)

Visit The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.) at www.charlotteobserver.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.