BRISTOL, Tenn. – It’s early but make no mistake, the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season is a heavyweight battle of epic proportions as competitors head east for Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway in eastern Tennessee.
Five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion and current points leader Jimmie Johnson effectively threw down the gauntlet by winning the Daytona 500. This year’s start – first, second and sixth – is Johnson’s best since 2010 when the Californian won two of the first three races en route to his fifth consecutive title. It’s the first time Johnson has started the season with three consecutive top 10s since 2006, when he won his first Daytona 500 and followed it up with his first championship.
Johnson has a single Bristol victory – the 2010 Food City 500. Seven of his most recent finishes at the .533-mile track have been top 10s.
Nothing – not a new season or a new manufacturer – has slowed 2012 champion Brad Keselowski. The reigning Food City 500 and 2011 Bristol late-summer winner, Keselowski is the only competitor with three top-five finishes to start this season. Another top five at Bristol would put him in the same class as the man he’s chasing. The last driver to start a season with four top fives: Jimmie Johnson in 2005.