A Closer Look at Bristol Motor Speedway

The NASCAR season rumbles on with the fifth NASCAR Cup race in two weeks on the calendar taking place this weekend. It’s the Supermarket Heroes 500 presented by Food City taking center stage on Sunday afternoon from Bristol Motor Speedway. The track is known as “The Fastest Half-Mile” and it can be a challenge to deal with such a short track with high levels of speed. Want to know more about the track? We’ll give you a rundown of what to expect for this race and the track itself, along with its relevant information.

Bristol Motor Speedway is a massive venue when it comes to capacity. The track can hold up to 162,000 fans, which makes it the third-largest sports venue in America and the seventh-largest in the world. That’s why it will be a bit strange to see an empty venue with no fans in attendance for this one. The track is a .533 mile banked oval: when it was originally built in 1961, the track was a half-mile and remained that way until 1969. That year, it moved to .527 miles before becoming its known configuration of .533 miles in 1970.

One part of the setup that is uncommon at most tracks, in part due to the short length of the track, is that there are pit stalls on both straightaways. Drivers must enter pit road on turn 2, then drive down the back straightaway through turns 3 and 4 before exiting in turn one during caution pit stops. When it’s a green flag pit stop, pit stops are split up: those on the front straightaway enter in turn 4 and exit in turn 1 while those on the back straightaway enter in turn 2 before exiting in turn 3. The straightaways are banked between five and nine degrees while the turns are banked between 24 and 28 degrees.

The first ever race to take place at Bristol Motor Speedway took place on July 30, 1961. Jack Smith won the race though he wasn’t the man behind the wheel at the checkered flag. He gave way to Johnny Allen after the heat of the day, plus being in the vehicle, caused his feet to blister. It was Allen that carried Smith’s vehicle to the checkered flag and victory lane. Smith’s vehicle was the only one on the lead lap that day, with Fireball Roberts (two laps down) finishing second and Ned Jarrett (five laps down) ending up third in the race.

Among current racers, Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick have run the most races at the track with 38 starts apiece. Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newman are right behind that duo as each has raced 36 times on the half-mile oval. Kyle Busch leads active drivers with eight wins on the track while Kurt Busch has six victories and Kenseth has four of his own. Johnson, Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano each have two wins and are the only other guys to have recorded a victory on this track among active drivers. Kenseth has 15 top-five finishes while Johnson, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch and Harvick each have recorded 12. When it comes to top-10 finishes, Kenseth leads the way with 22 while Johnson has 21. Kurt Busch (20), Newman (19) and Harvick (19) round out the top five.

In the most recent race on the track, it was Hamlin picking up the win in the Bass Pro Shops 500 by .502 seconds over Matt DiBenedetto back on August 17, 2019. Last year’s Food City 500 was won by Kyle Busch, who held off Kurt Busch by .722 seconds. Logano, Ryan Blaney, who led a race-high 158 laps, and Hamlin rounded out the top five in that race. The race takes place on Sunday at 3:30 pm ET with plenty of excitement on tap.

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Chris Kubala

Christopher Kubala has been crunching stats and following sports for over 30 years. His in-depth analysis and passion for sports have led him to writing books about sports, regularly being featured on sports talk radio and as the go-to person for any obscure trivia. Chris keeps an eye on transactions and statistics like a hawk, especially when it comes to football, both the NFL and college. He is also very knowledgeable in the NHL, the NBA, college basketball and MLB. If you want consistency, then be sure and check out Chris’ content daily.