Sprint Cup Jeff Byrd 500 Primer - Teams with Best Shot at Besting Bristol

BRISTOL, TN - MARCH 18: Kurt Busch, driver of the #22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge, sits in his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Jeff Byrd 500 Presented By Food City at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 18, 2011 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

After a premature off-week, the Sprint Cup Series returns to action on Sunday at the historic Bristol Motor Speedway.

The track's winner list reads like a history of motorsports. Eight of the nine winningest drivers are Cup champions, and five of them are either NASCAR Hall of Famers, inductees or nominees.

Sunday's Jeff Byrd 500, named for a late track president, has a lot of mystery surrounding it.

This ain't your dad's Bristol where the bump-and-run was paramount to success.

Resurfaced in between races in 2007, Bristol has more recently become a track centered on momentum. This is in stark contrast to the wreck-filled marathons of legend.

Running on the apron used to be the quickest way around the track but that was before the walls were pushed back, giving the track a second-and-a-half groove in the corners.

This has had a clear effect on some of the track's winningest active champions, especially Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch.

Gordon has five wins at Bristol, four of which came in the spring's daytime event, and has a driver rating of 98.7, good for third-best in the series. Busch also holds five wins, adding six top fives and a driver rating of 95.9, fifth best in Sprint Cup.

And yet, neither driver has won here since 2006.

The new Bristol requires two, and sometimes three-wide racing, and the ability to make a groove where one is not exactly apparent.

Enter Kyle Busch.

The younger Busch has three wins under the new configuration (four total wins), with six top fives and nine top tens. He's won here in three of his last four starts and has four in his last eight. In August, he completed an improbable sweep of all three national touring series races and is looking to maintain the trend on Sunday.

Busch holds the top driver rating statistic with a 106.0, six points higher than second-best Greg Biffle. If Busch can keep out of trouble, he'll be contending in the final stretch.

For his part, Biffle has done extremely good at Bristol. And yet has nothing to show for it. The aforementioned driver rating is 99.5 and he's averaging a top-ten per start at BMS. Biffle arrives at Bristol in 2011 with six-career top fives and ten top tens. Biffle's conservative approach has always treated him well at the very aggressive BMS. Sunday should be no different.

Last Season:

Jimmie Johnson took four tires to pass four cars on a late restart and passed Tony Stewart with six laps to go to win the Food City 500. The victory was Johnson's first at Bristol.

The Jeff Byrd 500 Presented by Food City from Bristol Motor Speedway airs at 1 p.m. EST and will be televised live by FOX Sports.

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