I rated Jimmie Johnson the clear favorite at Bristol, and lo and behold, he came through! It certainly was touch-and-go, though, because Kurt Busch was fast all day. He was leading late, and it looked unlikely Johnson (running second) could get him if the race stayed green. But a late caution threw the race to the pits. Johnson and Busch took four tires, and when the other front runners took two, the 48 and 2 took the green flag in sixth and fifth, respectively. It looked grim, but the champ surged to the front in a few laps and ran away with the race over the last six or so laps.
Unfortunately, my #2 pick, Juan Pablo Montoya, did not fare so well. He had a strong car early, running up front for much of the day (he led 29 laps). But then he slipped back a bit, got dinged in a big pileup at lap 342, and finished 26th.
My Yahoo! Fantasy League Picks
Group A: Johnson came through, woo hoo!
Group B: Kenseth used some pit strategy to get track position and finished 5th. Reutimann was very strong early, running 3rd and surging toward the lead. But then his engine failed—sigh.
Group C: Scott Speed was motoring toward a decent finish of around 20th with with maybe 30 laps left (?) when he suffered a flat tire and smacked the wall. He got back out and finished 31st.
I learned a couple things about Bristol yesterday. First, drivers aren’t pounding their brakes nearly as much as I thought they were, and that reduces the chance of equipment failure. Second, despite the extension of the SAFER barriers in turns 2 and 4 (which tightened the track slightly), Bristol just isn’t the bang-’em-up track it used to be. Put both of these lessons together, and it’s clear Bristol has more predictability than I thought. Not as much as, say, Las Vegas, but more than Martinsville.
Which is where we go next!