The NASCAR Sprint Cup boys will do battle at 1 p.m. in the Food City 500, race No. 5 of 36 on the 2010 schedule. Today’s tilt will be contested at the fabulous Bristol Motor Speedway, and as always at Bristol, it ought to be quite a war.
Here are some of the day’s top storylines:
• Will Joey Logano get his first “proper” victory? — The 19-year-old Logano, who won a rain-shortened race last year at New Hampshire, will start the Food City 500 from the pole. He has been fast all weekend long, as he continues to improve. There’s no question that he’s on the way to becoming a top-level Cup driver.
• Can Kurt Busch make it two in a row? — A five-time Bristol winner, Busch will roll off second today and almost certainly be a force to be reckoned with. Plus, his Penske Racing team is performing well at this point, with Busch coming off a victory two weeks ago at Atlanta. His crew chief, Steve Addington, has to be loving life right now after being kicked to the curb from Joe Gibbs Racing last year when Kyle Busch struggled.
• Who will get into it today? — This is Bristol. Drivers will hit each other and be pissed off about it afterwards. You can expect some fireworks on track today, but they probably won’t be coming from Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards, who’ve been told by NASCAR to cool it. Then again, Edwards and Kevin Harvick traded some ugly insults on Friday, Harvick saying that Edwards was a phony and Edwards calling Harvick evil.
• Will weather play a factor? — Rain is supposed to move into Bristol after 3 p.m., which could play a major role on race strategies as the event moves towards its halfway point.
• Can Jimmie Johnson finally win here? — In 16 previous Bristol starts, the four-time series champion has never finished higher than third. And the failure to win here has not sat well with Johnson, who was fastest in both practices Saturday. He could have a breakout afternoon.
• Does Kyle Busch have a prayer? — The Shrub swept both Bristol races last year, but his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota has been way off the pace this weekend. He qualified 38th and was just 21st during the final Happy Hour practice session. Given where he’s starting, the younger Busch will need a miracle to win.
• Will Kenseth keep it up? — The addition of veteran Todd Parrott as crew chief has revitalized Matt Kenseth, who qualified seventh and was third in Happy Hour. Kenseth, currently second in points, has two victories and seven top fives at Bristol. He could very well win today. Even if he doesn’t find victory lane, Kenseth will be strong all year.
• Juan more time? — Juan Pablo Montoya has been fast all weekend, qualifying sixth and running second in Happy Hour. Since joining the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series full-time in 2007, Montoya has yet to win on a oval. That might change today.
• How will RCR fare? — The story of the year so far has been the Phoenix-like ascension of Richard Childress Racing. RCR drivers Jeff Burton, Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer swept the top three places in this race two years ago and all are in the top six in points now, with Harvick leading the standings. This time, though, they’ll have real work to do if they hope to repeat, as Burton starts 14th, Bowyer 26th and Harvick 33rd.
Tom Jensen is the Editor in Chief of SPEEDtv.com, Senior NASCAR Editor at RACER and a contributing Editor for TruckSeries.com. You can follow him online at twitter.com/tomjensen100 and e-mail him at Jensen is the author of “Cheating: The Bad Things Good NASCAR Nextel Cup Racers Do In Pursuit of Speed,” and has appeared on numerous television and radio shows. Jensen is the past President of the National Motorsports Press Association and an NMPA Writer of the Year.