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Bristol 500 Race Preview

Written By Gabriel Tsui, Edited by Sean McKean

After the Chevrolet win streak was broken by Toyota in Phoenix, we now head to Bristol Motor Speedway for the first short track race of the season. After Christopher Bell took his first win of the season, could anyone else do so? Or would one of the early season winners work their way back to victory lane?

Phoenix 500 Race Debrief

The race started off with Denny Hamlin leading the field to the green flag, but spin from Derek Kraus involving Austin Cindric and Austin Dillon brought out the caution flag. After the caution flag, Ty Gibbs led the way for the rest of stage one, up until the final five laps of the stage, where Tyler Reddick overtook GIbbs and secured the stage win. 

In stage two, Hamlin started with the lead yet again on the restart, and held onto it until the green flag pit cycle in the middle of stage two. After coming out of the pits, Hamlin engaged in a battle with Reddick, which eventually saw Reddick take provisional lead. Nearing the end of stage two, Christopher Bell caught up to the fellow Toyotas and passed both of them to secure the stage win.

After the stage break, Hamlin led off and drove off into the final stage of the race, but a caution flag was waved soon after Kyle Busch spun on the exit of turn two. Not long after the restart, John Hunter Nemechek hit Joey Logano going into the front straight, then took multiple drivers along the ride, bringing out yet another caution.

After a third caution of stage three which saw Hamlin spin while fighting for the lead, Martin Truex Jr. took the lead. Soon, Christopher Bell, who restarted in 20th place in lap 220 jumped all the way to third in lap 255, and soon first at lap 270. With an excellent fuel strategy and dominant driving, Christopher Bell held onto a comfortable lead of five seconds, taking his first win of the season.

Track Preview

The Bristol Motor Speedway is located in Bristol, Tennessee. The track was built in 1961, and has been a part of the NASCAR calendar ever since its opening. The early season Bristol race started off with an asphalt surface, then switched to concrete ever since 1993. NASCAR shifted to dirt track racing from 2021 until 2023 but will shift back to concrete racing for 2024.

The track is 0.533 miles (0.858 kilometres) long, with a banking of 24-28 degrees on the turns, and four to nine degrees on the front straight. The drivers will be driving 500 laps around the track, totalling a distance of 266.5 miles (428.9 kilometres). The first and second stage will each consist of 125 laps, then 250 laps for the final stage.

The race will be hosted on the Sunday of March 17th, at 15:30 ET (12:30 PT, 21:30 CET). The weather forecast currently shows that there will be cloud cover for both Saturday and Sunday, with little to no precipitation for the weekend.

Race Predictions

Ford must be having mixed feelings after Phoenix. They have had great performances throughout the start of the season, and came so close to a win every race of the season, yet have failed to acquire any yet.

In Phoenix, they have five cars in the top ten, with Chris Buescher, Brad Keselowski, and Ryan Blaney holding positions in the top five. Despite all of that, they still couldn’t catch up to the JGR star driver Christopher Bell. They are long overdue for a win, so we will see if they could carve one out in Bristol.

Toyota and Bell must be feeling pretty good about themselves, after taking a dominant win in Phoenix and snapping the Chevrolet win streak. They are projected to back it up with yet another race win in Bristol, given their good performance here in recent history.

Drivers like Hamlin, Bell, and Truex Jr are elite short track racers, alongside an elite car in short tracks, this might be the perfect scenario for the Toyotas. Therefore, the prediction will be Toyota taking a third consecutive win in Bristol.


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