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Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, and Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Autotrader Ford, sit on the apron after an on track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 19, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)

In a race delayed and interrupted by rain, and ended in overtime, Matt Kenseth broke a drought of more than a year’s standing in Sunday’s Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes at Bristol Motor Speedway.

In a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race that went 11 laps past its scheduled distance of 500 laps—making it the longest race in the history of the .533-mile short track—Kenseth crossed the finish line .287 seconds ahead of Jimmie Johnson, who recovered from a succession of issues to claim the runner-up finish.

Kenseth, who inherited the top spot when Kurt Busch pitted from the lead under the ninth caution on Lap 477, stayed out front the rest of the way. He was three car lengths ahead of third-place finisher Jeff Gordon when Carl Edwards got loose underneath Gordon’s No. 24 Chevrolet and ignited the wreck that brought out caution No. 11 and demolished Busch’s Chevy in the process.

After a brief delay because of a late shower, a far cry from the 3 hour 58 minute hiatus that came after the first 22 laps, Kenseth pulled away on a green-white-checkered-flag restart and was unchallenged to the finish, as Johnson got past Gordon for second.

The victory was Kenseth’s fourth at Bristol, his most at any track, and the 32nd of his career. Kenseth broke a 51-race winless streak dating to the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire in September 2013. The win all but locks up Kenseth's spot in the Chase.

"It feels good to be back here," Kenseth said, sitting at the dais for the winner’s press conference. "Really, honestly, it does, it wears on you a little bit. We had such a good 2013 (seven victories), we came a little short of the ultimate prize there, but we had such a great season, and last year there were some races we had some chances to win and just things wouldn't line up for us.

"We just couldn't get it to happen. Tonight was kind of the opposite. Everything worked out. We had a good car on the short run, not so good on the last 40 or 50 laps of the run, and we had all them cautions and short runs at the end that really benefitted us."

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ran fourth, followed by Ryan Newman. Danica Patrick was ninth, recording her second top 10 of the year and the sixth of her career, breaking a tie with Janet Guthrie for most ever by a female driver.

Johnson’s second-place finish was an adventure. The driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet survived two wrecks and a lost lap (which he regained as the highest-scored lapped car under caution for debris on Lap 344).

Johnson first sustained damage when Kurt Busch’s car twitched underneath him in Turn 3 and sent Johnson’s Chevrolet spinning.

Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 19, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Drew Hallowell/NASCAR via Getty Images)

"Yeah, the first half of the race or first third of the race I was behind the 24 (Gordon), and we just worked our way up through the field and things went pretty smoothly," said Johnson, who started 28th after a lackluster qualifying effort. "I had a very fast race car and felt like we were going to have a strong night. And then one of the restarts midway through the race, the 41 (Busch)—I don't know what happened—but he lost control, got into me.

"I went into the outside wall in Turn 3, and a caution came out. We had a fair amount of damage to the right rear quarter panel. I didn't think I hit that hard, but after I got out of the race car and saw the damage, no wonder it didn't drive very good after that, and we needed two or three pit stops to get the quarter panel pushed back down so there was some sideforce on the back of the car on corner entry and once we did that, we weren't as good as we were at the start of the race but still very competitive.

"(Crew chief) Chad (Knaus) called for two (tires) late in the race. That picked us up a few more spots, and then I think the last two restarts I was in the outside lane, and that helped me out quite a bit. Wild night, but glad to get it in."

If Kenseth’s winless streak ended, so did the productive streaks of three other drivers. Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr. all had posted top 10s in each of the first seven Cup races this season, but all three drivers had major issues on Sunday.

Logano slammed into Penske teammate Brad Keselowski after Keselowski lost control on a slick track on Lap 18. After extensive repairs, Logano finished 40th.

Truex’s Chevrolet experienced a bad vibration, then a loose wheel. He finished 29th, seven laps down.

Harvick was unable to avoid the wrecked car of David Ragan after contact between Johnson and Jeb Burton started a melee on lap 310. Harvick, who led 184 laps before the accident, spent 43 laps in the garage for repairs and came home 38th.

Nevertheless, Harvick, Logano and Truex held the top three positions in the series standings. Harvick leads Logano by 30 points and Truex by 33. Johnson is fourth, 56 points back. - NASCAR Media Services

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Race - Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes and Stand Up to Cancer
Bristol Motor Speedway
Bristol, Tennessee
Sunday, April 19, 2015

1. (1) Matt Kenseth, Toyota, 511, $212961.
2. (28) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 511, $170011.
3. (23) Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet, 511, $160861.
4. (25) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 511, $125475.
5. (18) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 511, $135275.
6. (21) Tony Stewart, Chevrolet, 511, $131129.
7. (14) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 511, $133423.
8. (15) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 511, $126723.
9. (26) Danica Patrick, Chevrolet, 511, $107365.
10. (12) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 511, $136351.
11. (9) Paul Menard, Chevrolet, 511, $106340.
12. (37) Clint Bowyer, Toyota, 511, $131773.
13. (30) Aric Almirola, Ford, 511, $134176.
14. (10) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 510, $126831.
15. (7) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 510, $112175.
16. (13) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 509, $112300.
17. (24) Brett Moffitt #, Toyota, 509, $124864.
18. (32) David Gilliland, Ford, 508, $120533.
19. (39) Sam Hornish Jr., Ford, 508, $121995.
20. (40) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 508, $110033.
21. (22) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 508, $103708.
22. (19) Michael McDowell, Ford, 507, $91875.
23. (36) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 507, $91700.
24. (3) Carl Edwards, Toyota, 507, $91825.
25. (38) Chris Buescher(i), Ford, 505, $91325.
26. (5) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 505, $109200.
27. (42) Cole Whitt, Ford, 504, $103572.
28. (31) Trevor Bayne, Ford, 504, $135450.
29. (16) Martin Truex Jr., Chevrolet, 504, $120120.
30. (33) Greg Biffle, Ford, 504, $124458.
31. (41) Mike Bliss(i), Ford, 502, $90625.
32. (29) JJ Yeley(i), Toyota, 496, $89550.
33. (43) Alex Kennedy #, Chevrolet, 490, $89500.
34. (20) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, Accident, 489, $107450.
35. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 489, $138341.
36. (27) Casey Mears, Chevrolet, Accident, 487, $97350.
37. (8) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, Accident, 482, $107289.
38. (4) Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet, 468, $143112.
39. (35) Josh Wise, Ford, Accident, 466, $80415.
40. (6) Joey Logano, Ford, 452, $123623.
41. (11) David Ragan, Toyota, 435, $117406.
42. (34) Jeb Burton #, Toyota, Accident, 416, $68415.
43. (17) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 288, $64915.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 74.997 mph.
Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 37 Mins, 54 Secs. Margin of Victory: 0.287 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 11 for 117 laps.
Lead Changes: 21 among 6 drivers.
Lap Leaders: M. Kenseth 1-5; K. Harvick 6-62; K. Busch 63; G. Biffle 64-69; K. Busch 70-125; K. Harvick 126-160; K. Busch 161-165; K. Harvick 166-169; K. Busch 170; K. Harvick 171-256; C. Edwards 257-266; K. Busch 267; C. Edwards 268-276; K. Harvick 277; C. Edwards 278-290; K. Harvick 291; C. Edwards 292-345; M. Kenseth 346; K. Larson 347-436; M. Kenseth 437-443; K. Busch 444-477; M. Kenseth 478-511.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): K. Harvick 6 times for 184 laps; K. Busch 6 times for 98 laps; K. Larson 1 time for 90 laps; C. Edwards 4 times for 86 laps; M. Kenseth 4 times for 47 laps; G. Biffle 1 time for 6 laps.
Top 16 in Points: K. Harvick - 314; J. Logano - 284; M. Truex Jr. - 281; J. Johnson - 258; B. Keselowski - 255; D. Earnhardt Jr. - 241; K. Kahne - 237; M. Kenseth - 236; J. Gordon - 227; A. Almirola - 226; D. Hamlin - 223; J. Mcmurray - 223; D. Patrick - 211; P. Menard - 210; C. Edwards - 203; R. Newman - 201.





Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Drive To Stop Diabetes 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 18, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.(Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)

From the drop of the green flag until the checkered flag was displayed, the Drive to Stop Diabetes 300 from Bristol Motor Speedway belonged to Joey Logano.

Logano, who started from the outside pole, jumped out to a commanding lead in the race's opening stages and the Daytona 500 champion never looked back.

Logano held onto the lead through eight cautions leading all 300 laps of Saturday's race. Following a restart with 15 laps remaining, Logano was able to keep his #22 Discount Tire Ford ahead of Xfinity rookie Daniel Suarez by navigating and using lapped traffic to his advantage.

Taking the checkered flag, Logano earned his second Xfinity series win. He also became the 19th driver in Xfinity series history to lead every lap of a race. The last to accomplish the feat was Kyle Busch, who did it on his way to a win in Richmond last season.

"It's not often you have a car that's that fast," Logano said.  "When you have a car like that the whole race you're just hoping something doesn't go wrong and you're looking for the checkered flag because it's neat to say you've led every single lap. It's actually a pretty neat little thing, I've never done that before in my career in any type of race car. That's pretty cool to do today."

While Logano showed the way on the late restart, Suarez was able to cement himself into a career best finish of second just ahead of Chris Buescher. The finish is Suarez's second top-ten finish of the 2015 Xfinity season.

"To be honest, I'm super happy," Suarez said. "I mentioned a little bit ago that if somebody told me to take a top-ten and walk away, I will take it. So a second place (finish) is much better as a rookie. Very happy, had a really strong day. Hopefully we can keep the good work up and try to build some confidence and good results for the future."

Buescher's third place finish is his best career finish at Bristol Motor Speedway. The finish marks the 11th straight time he has finished inside the top-15, dating back to the 2014 Xfinity season.

"That was a lot of fun and the best we've run at Bristol since I've been doing it," Buescher said. "It was a good day for us and the guys did a good job. It was tough today, the line moved up especially on those last 30 laps all the way up to the fence. That made it really hard to pass at the end."

Last week's Xfinity series winner at Texas Motor Speedway Erik Jones started from the pole but finished fourth while Ty Dillon crossed the stripe in the fifth position.

Defending Xfinity series champion Chase Elliott extended his streak of top-ten finishes to seven by finishing in the sixth position.

Two time Xfinity series champion Kevin Harvick had been running second to Logano for much of the race until a pit road speeding penalty sent him back in the field. Despite the pit road woes Harvick was able to salvage a finish of seventh place.

Brian Scott, Brendan Gaughan, and Elliott Sadler rounded out the top-ten.

Chris Buescher's third place finish put him in a tie atop the Xfinity series points lead with Ty Dillon. Defending Xfinity series champion Chase Elliott sits in third place, just 12 points back of the lead.

NASCAR's Xfinity series will be back in action April 24th at Richmond International Raceway.

Daniel Suarez, driver of the #18 ARRIS Toyota, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR XFINITY Series Drive To Stop Diabetes 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 18, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.
(Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Drive To Stop Diabetes 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 18, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Drew Hallowell/NASCAR via Getty Images

KAHNE FASTEST IN FIRST TWO PRACTICES - Frmer Bristol winner Kasey Kahne paced the field in the weekend's first two Sprint Cup series practice sessions.

Kahne's speed of 128.168 mph in the first practice session was good enough to narrowly edge his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr's, speed of 128.159.

Brad Keselowski, Carl Edwards and David Ragan all finished the first session inside the top five.

Former Bristol winner and three-time Sprint Cup series champion Tony Stewart was on the track the most of any driver, logging 65 laps. Stewart only managed to be 35th fastest in the session.

Kahne's speed fell to 126.829 mph in the second Sprint Cup practice session of the weekend but was still good  enough to be on top of the board. Kevin Harvick was second fastest with an average speed of 126.395.

Joey Logano, Kurt Busch and Denny Hamlin rounded out the session's top five fastest.

Jamie McMurray ran 106 laps which was most in the session and Jimmie Johnson ran 86 laps which was the second highest total in Saturday's morning session.

There were a few dust ups in the second session which saw Tony Stewart lose control of his #14 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet and cause minor rear end damage. Six-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson also made contact with the wall during a practice run.

Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images

JOHNSON EAGER FOR BRISTOL TURNAROUND - Six-time Sprint Cup series champion Jimmie Johnson has won at Bristol in his storied career, but he hasn't had much success recently.

His Bristol misfortunes came to a head on Friday during qualifying where he battled a loose race car and failed to advance to the second round of knockout qualifying.

Johnson believes he has the tools to be successful at the high-banked short track but admits success has eluded him.

“I honestly can’t say there is one that got away from me here," Johnson said Friday. "This has just been a tough track for me. I feel like what it takes to drive here would really fit my driving style and suit me. But it just really hasn’t over the years, even when I go back to the XFINITY car that I raced here.

"We have been a top five car typically and then that one weekend we had a race winning car and were able to take advantage of it and get the win."

While Johnson freely admits his admiration for Bristol, he also admits his gameplan at the track is everchanging.

"When I look at this track I love what this track is about," Johnson added. "I love the history of it. I love to watch races here. I had a blast once out there. I mean it’s always fun in the car, but when you have a chance to win races it kind of spoils you. I want to be more competitive here, just because I think so much of the track.

"But there are some tracks that just don’t fit driver’s styles as well as others. 14 years later - I’m still and add two years of XFINITY, 16 years later I’m still trying to find what I need around here.”

Johnson will start Sunday's race in the 28th position, his second worst qualifying effort of the 2015 season. The only race he qualified worse for was the QuikTrip/Folds of Honor 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, a race in which Johnson won.

XFINITY POLE WINNER - Erik Jones, driver of the #20 GameStop Toyota, celebrates with the 21 Means 21 Pole Award after qualifying for the pole position for the NASCAR XFINITY Series Drive To Stop Diabetes 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 18, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.




NAME CHANGE FOR EVENT - Originally scheduled as the "Food City 500" is now the "Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes".

The name change came after Fox Sports approached Bristol Motor Speedway and event sponsor Food City with the idea to honor the veteran TV reporter, Steve Byrnes.

Byrnes, who turned 56 this week, has been with Fox Sports since the TV network started covering NASCAR in 2001.

“We stand with the NASCAR community in being Steve Byrnes strong,” Food City President and CEO Steve Smith said. “By banding together, we can drive even more awareness and support for our friend Steve, his family and everyone who Stands Up to Cancer.”

Byrnes usually is a host on Fox Sports 1's "NASCAR Race Hub" and play-by-play for Fox Sport's coverage of the Camping World Truck Series but while he receives medical attention is on a leave of absence.

Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, celebrates with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for the pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 17, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)

TOP GUN - Matt Kenseth has not won in 51 consecutive Sprint Cup starts. He will be in great position to end the streak by earning the pole for Sunday's race.

Kenseth recorded a fast lap of 128.632 mph in the final round of knockout qualifying on Friday afternoon.

Starting just beside Kenseth in second will be Brad Keselowski, whose time of 128.442 was good enough for the outside pole.

Kenseth's new Joe Gibbs Racing teammate and defending event winner Carl Edwards will start in the third position. Kevin Harvick qualified fourth and Kenseth's other Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin qualified fifth.

Joey Logano, Kurt Busch and Kasey Kahne round out the top eight for Sunday's race. All eight drivers have won a race at Bristol.

SUNDAY'S LINE-UP - The following is how the Sprint Cup field will start Sunday's Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes

Pos    Car    Driver    Team    Time    Speed
Row 1:    1    20    Matt Kenseth    Dollar General Toyota    14.917    128.632
2    2    Brad Keselowski    Miller Lite Ford    14.939    128.442
Row 2:    3    19    Carl Edwards    Comcast Business Toyota    14.953    128.322
4    4    Kevin Harvick    Jimmy John's/Budweiser Chevrolet    14.966    128.211
Row 3:    5    11    Denny Hamlin    FedEx Freight Toyota    15.059    127.419
6    22    Joey Logano    Autotrader Ford    15.071    127.317
Row 4:    7    41    Kurt Busch    Haas Automation Chevrolet    15.124    126.871
8    5    Kasey Kahne    Great Clips Chevrolet    15.129    126.829
Row 5:    9    27    Paul Menard    Sylvania/Menards Chevrolet    15.129    126.829
10    1    Jamie McMurray    McDonald's Chevrolet    15.155    126.612
Row 6:    11    18    David Ragan    Snickers Xtreme Toyota    15.176    126.436
12    3    Austin Dillon    DOW Chevrolet    15.197    126.262
Row 7:    13    88    Dale Earnhardt Jr.    Mountain Dew Dewshine Chevrolet    15.099    127.081
14    42    Kyle Larson    Target Chevrolet    15.100    127.073
Row 8:    15    51    Justin Allgaier    Auto-Owners Insurance Chevrolet    15.161    126.562
16    78    Martin Truex Jr.    Furniture Row/Visser Precision Chevrolet    15.168    126.503
Row 9:    17    40    Landon Cassill(i)    Chevrolet    15.177    126.428
18    31    Ryan Newman    WIX Chevrolet    15.218    126.088
Row 10:    19    95    Michael McDowell    Thrivent Financial Ford    15.235    125.947
20    47    AJ Allmendinger    Bush's Beans Chevrolet    15.236    125.939
Row 11:    21    14    Tony Stewart    Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet    15.249    125.831
22    83    Matt DiBenedetto    Dustless Blasting Toyota    15.253    125.798
Row 12:    23    24    Jeff Gordon    3M Chevrolet    15.276    125.609
24    55    Brett Moffitt #    Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota    15.326    125.199
Row 13:    25    17    Ricky Stenhouse Jr.    Zest Ford    15.183    126.378
26    10    Danica Patrick    GoDaddy Chevrolet    15.189    126.328
Row 14:    27    13    Casey Mears    GEICO Chevrolet    15.192    126.303
28    48    Jimmie Johnson    Lowe's Chevrolet    15.211    126.146
Row 15:    29    23    JJ Yeley(i)    Dr Pepper I'm a Pepper Toyota    15.223    126.046
30    43    Aric Almirola    Smithfield Ford    15.250    125.823
Row 16:    31    6    Trevor Bayne    AdvoCare Ford    15.253    125.798
32    38    David Gilliland    MDS Transport Ford    15.274    125.625
Row 17:    33    16    Greg Biffle    Ortho Ford    15.283    125.551
34    26    Jeb Burton #    MaximFantasySports.com Toyota    15.288    125.510
Row 18:    35    98    Josh Wise    Phil Parsons Racing Ford    15.295    125.453
36    46    Michael Annett    Pilot/Flying J Chevrolet    15.331    125.158
Row 19:    37    15    Clint Bowyer    5-hour Energy Toyota    Owner Points
38    34    Chris Buescher(i)    CSX/Play It Safe Ford    Owner Points
Row 20:    39    9    Sam Hornish Jr.    Nature Blast Ford    Owner Points
40    7    Alex Bowman    Chevrolet    Owner Points
Row 21:    41    32    Mike Bliss(i)    Keen Parts/Visone RV Ford    Owner Points
42    35    Cole Whitt    Tweaker Energy Shots Ford    Owner Points
Row 22:    43    33    Alex Kennedy #    Media Cast Chevrolet    Owner Points
Did Not Qualify:    # 62 Brendan Gaughan(i); # 30 Ron Hornaday Jr..
Manufacturer    Starting Lineup    DNQs    Manufacturer    Starting Lineup    DNQs
Chevrolet    21    2    Toyota    9    0
Ford    13    0
(i) Ineligible for driver points in this series

Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, races during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 17, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)

HAMLIN, DILLON PACE FRIDAY XFINITY PRACTICES - Denny Hamlin and Austin Dillon were the quickest cars in Friday's practice sessions from Bristol.

Hamlin led the first round of practice with an average speed of 122.100 mph narrowly edging out Brian Scott who had an average speed of 122.077 mph.

Joey Logano, Erik Jones and Austin Dillon rounded out the first session's top five.

Austin Dillon led all Xfinity competitors in the second round of qualifying with a speed of 124.412 mph. While Hamlin fell to second fastest recording a speed of 124.259 mph.

Daniel Suarez, Chris Buescher, and Erik Jones rounded out the final practice session's top five.

Multiple drivers spun in Friday's second practice session including the defending Xfinity series champion Chase Elliott, former Xfinity champion Kevin Harvick and current Xfinity series points leader Ty Dillon. 

Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 3M Chevrolet, talks to his crew chief, Alan Gustafson, on the grid prior to qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 17, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)

GORDON PULLING DOUBLE DUTY AGAIN - No, Jeff Gordon is not driving in Saturday's XFINITY race in Bristol. He will; however, be in the television broadcast booth for coverage of the race.

Gordon made his analyst debut last week during the O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Gordon has a strong track record at Bristol Motor Speedway, leading multiple categories amongst active drivers such as pole position starts, top-five finishes, top-ten finishes, laps led and average starting position. His five wins tie him with the Busch Brothers, Kurt and Kyle, amongst active drivers in Bristol.

Gordon holds 44 starts at "The Last Great Coliseum," a facility he holds in high regard.  

“Bristol is the one track that I go in the night before and walk over to it when nobody is there," Gordon said. "I just look at it and go, ‘Man, this place is cool.’ There is no other place like it, the stadium and those hills and Tennessee. If we ever had a coliseum or a real stadium, it would be Bristol."

This stadium, the four-time Sprint Cup Series champion Gordon believes, has made strides in improving safety for its high horsepower gladiators.

“The addition of the SAFER barriers is going to change the groove slightly," Gordon noted.  "It’s definitely going to change how we race there. I hope it makes it more exciting with even more action. I’ll get my first look at it probably Thursday night.”

Earlier this month, officials from Bristol Motor Speedway announced 600 feet of SAFER barrier on the outside walls of the front-stretch and back-stretch.

Ryan Reed, driver of the #16 Lilly/American Diabetes Association Ford, sits in his car during practice for the NASCAR XFINITY Series Drive To Stop Diabetes 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 17, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)

KENSETH, TEAM EYE BRISTOL CHALLENGE - Matt Kenseth rates high headed into this weekend's Sprint Cup event with the highest driver rating of any active drivers at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Kenseth's Bristol resume also boasts three wins and a 12.2 average finish. An accomplished driver at the short track, he admits the new lower horsepower rules package will present a unique set of challenges.

 “To have a good race car at Bristol, you need to have your car turning well and have rear grip, so it’s not much different from other tracks honestly," Kenseth said.  "At Bristol though, you need to be fast on the top and still be reasonable enough on the bottom where you can make passes."

"I think it’s going to be tougher to pass at Bristol this year with less power, so you’re going to need to be handling really well, and cars will need to be exceptional to make any passes on the bottom lane.”   

Kenseth's crew chief Jason Ratcliffe believes the team can be successful.

"Bristol is always really unique, but it’s been a track that we’ve run well at in the past," Ratcliffe said.  "We’ve had four races there paired up with Matt (Kenseth) and I think that we’ve been able to be a contender there in all four of them.  Obviously, we won one race together, but I feel that we had cars capable of winning another one at the very least, we just had things that happened where that didn’t work out."

"It’s a place I always look forward to going because we do typically run well there."


DILLON SEEKS TO EXTEND POINTS LEAD - Ty Dillon enters Saturday's XFINITY event as the point leader. This weekend's event will mark the fifth consecutive week in which Dillon has the points lead in the series.

Dillon has three starts in the XFINITY Series at Bristol Motor Speedway all of which have been top-ten finishes.

"I credit my dirt track racing days to my success at Bristol Motor Speedway," Dillon said. "It's a short track that is super fast and has many different areas on the track to race. That bumping-and-grinding type of racing is what I am used to and grew up doing.

"Bristol is one of the most exciting race tracks on the circuit to visit because it's an unbelievable show for the fans at an awesome venue."

Dillon is behind the wheel of the #3 Yuengling Light Lager Chevrolet this weekend, fresh off a 12th place finish last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway. He has notched two top-five finishes in six races this season.

 Chad Knaus, crew chief of Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet, stands on top of a hauler during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 17, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet, climbs into his car during practice for the NASCAR XFINITY Series Drive To Stop Diabetes 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 17, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.

DRAKE EAGER TO COMPETE AGAIN AT BRISTOL - Losing a tire in last season's K&N Pro Series East event here in Bristol, has Nick Drake looking for a strong measure of redemption.

Drake finished 28th last year.

“In the race we worked our way forward to the top 10 before we blew a right front tire and knocked the wall down,” Drake said. “We can run top 10 there as long as we can make it to the end of the race this time. It should be fun.”

Drake is in his second full season competing in the K&N Pro Series, driving for Bill McAnally Racing. With his experience, Drake expects to see improved results not just at Bristol but at all the other stops on the circuit.

“Last year was my first time to all those race tracks,” Drake said. “Now that I’ve been to all of them, I think we’re a step ahead of everyone that’s in the situation I was in last year. We should be in good shape as long as we keep the car under us.”

Drake has finished in the top ten in first two races of the 2015 season and enters Saturday's Pittlite 125 fifth in the championship standings.

Saturday's race is the fourth K&N Pro Series East race held in the history of Bristol Motor Speedway. The NBC Sports Network will televise the event on April 23rd.

BRISTOL GOODYEAR TIRE NOTES - The Sprint Cup and XFINITY series' teams will use the same Goodyear tire codes as they did in last August's second Bristol event. Bristol events require a unique spec tire.

The tire code for the left side is D-4416 and the right side code is D-4526.

Sprint Cup teams carry five sets for qualifying and practice sessions along with ten sets for Sunday's race. XFINITY series teams use six sets which must last the entire event.

Most tracks under one mile do not require teams to run inner liners but here in Bristol, they must on the right side.

BUSCH EYES RETURN TO FORMER GLORY AT BRISTOL  - Count Kurt Busch as another one of the drivers who shines while racing in the rolling hills of eastern Tennessee.

In his 28 Sprint Cup Series starts, Busch has won five times including a stretch of three straight events in a row. Additionally, he has eight Top Five finishes.

Busch was able to notch his most recent top five finish in last August's Irwin Tools Night Race.

"Bristol is one of those tracks that I get a little extra pumped up for," Busch said. "It's a place that gives you a big adrenaline rush. You can literally feel the energy around the track from the competitors and the fans who are just excited for 500 laps of racing at Bristol."

"There's really nothing quite like it."

Busch continued, "Bristol really seems to fit my driving style," Busch said. "Ever since they polished the outside groove you have to wait for it to come in.

"But when it comes in, it's fast up there."

SPRINT CUP ENTRY LIST NOTES - There are 45 drivers entered for the Food City 500 in Support of Steve Byrnes.

The Wood Brothers and driver Ryan Blaney do not have entries for this event; the event will mark the sixth race they have missed while running a limited schedule. Blaney blew an engine in last week's race at Texas in just his second start of the season.

Appearing once again in substitute duty are Brett Moffitt and Chris Buescher.

Moffitt will make another start for Brian Vickers, who is out indefinitely with another bout of blood clots. Buescher will start for Front Row Motorsports again while the regular driver, David Ragan, is substituting for the injured Kyle Busch.

Moffitt is one of two Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidates in the field; the other is Jeb Burton, who has started every race this season.

Michael McDowell and Ron Hornaday would be the drivers who would not qualify for Sunday's event if the session cancels.

XFINITY SERIES ENTRY LIST NOTES - There are 39 cars on the entry list for Saturday's Drive to Stop Diabetes 300.

Notable entries include Kevin Harvick, driving the #88 Hunt Brothers Chevrolet for JR Motorsports, and Ryan Blaney, driving the #22 Discount Tire Ford for Team Penske. Blaney won the XFINITY race at Bristol in August.

Brennan Poole continues driving the #42 again for HScott Motorsports while Jeff Green pilots the #10 TriStar Motorsports Toyota again.