NASCAR hits Bristol for the Food City 500

NASCAR hits Bristol for the Food City 500

Driver Danica Patrick (10) rolls down pit road after hitting the wall during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup series auto race at Bristol Motor Speedway on Friday, March 14, 2014, in Bristol, Tenn. Photo: Associated Press/AP Photo/Wade Payne


Food City 500 – Bristol Motor Speedway

3/16 10:00am Pacific

WEATHER WATCH: The National Weather Service isn’t predicting a smooth day for NASCAR on Sunday. There was an 85 percent chance of rain for the start of the race, increasing to 100 percent throughout the afternoon. Although the track has lights, there was a 77 percent chance of rain after 8 p.m. The upside for the .533-mile concrete oval is that it can be typically dried in under an hour, providing the rain gives NASCAR a window to attempt to race. NASCAR needs only to get to the halfway mark (250 laps), for the event to be official.

QUALIFYING EDGE: Team Penske has dominated the new knockout qualifying format with two sweeps of the front row this season, and Brad Keselowski will start second on Sunday and Joey Logano will roll off fourth. Matt Kenseth alleges it’s because the organization has enlisted help from other Ford teams — specifically Leavine Family Racing and driver Michael McDowell — to test setups in advance for Penske. “I think they’ve been to all three tracks with their ‘satellite teams,’ ” Kenseth said. “I think they’ve gathered a lot of information at all these tracks and was really prepared when the season started.” Penske vice president of operations Michael Nelson denied any wrongdoing by the organization, and NASCAR said its seen nothing improper and teams are free to share information.

FINAL PRACTICE: Casey Mears posted the fastest lap of Saturday’s final practice, but it was the Penske cars that led the field in best 10 consecutive lap average. Brad Keselowski, winner last week at Las Vegas, was on top of the leaderboard and followed by teammate Joey Logano. Third went to defending race winner Kasey Kahne. The best 10 consecutive lap average is considered a better indicator of how a strong a car is for the race.

CASSILL’S CRASH: Landon Cassill made the field for the first time since the season-opening Daytona 500 but his day was derailed by a frightening crash in the closing moments of Saturday’s final practice. Cassill slammed hard in the wall when the rear tire of his JD Motorsports entry inexplicably came off the Chevrolet. “I looked at the car and it looks like the rear-end housing broke, maybe about six inches out from the end of the housing,” Cassill said. “It’s a real tough break for this team, but we’re happy to be in the race.” Cassill had to go to a backup.

FAN VOTE: Voting opens Sunday for the Sprint Fan Vote to push one driver into the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race on May 17 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Fans can cast their ballots an unlimited number of times, and for the first time, the Sprint Fan Vote will include a sweepstakes awarding one voter a trip for two to any 2014 Chase for the Sprint Cup championship race. Voting can be done on the NASCAR mobile app, which will count double toward a driver’s total, through and at The Sprint Experience at all Sprint Cup Series races.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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