There’s an all-star cast of drivers who have proven over the years they have what it takes to get the job done at Bristol Motor Speedway.

That stout contingent of drivers will put it all on the line Sunday afternoon during the sport’s return to concrete racing in the springtime at Bristol Motor Speedway (3:30 p.m., FOX, PRN Radio).

Perhaps first in line among the pre-race favorites to win the legendary Food City 500 is Christopher Bell, who won here last spring on the Bristol dirt in the final year of a three-year run on the clay that took the sport back to its roots around NASCAR’s 75th anniversary season.

Bell has proven over the years he knows the preferred line around the .533-mile bullring that’s been called the “Holy Grail of Short Tracks”. He took the win on the dirt but the Oklahoma native feels just as confident on the Bristol concrete, having posted finishes of third and fourth the last two seasons at America’s Night Race.

“I love racing Bristol,” Bell said recently. “It’s literally my favorite race on the schedule. I’m very thankful we get to go twice this year. It’s a track we have excelled at the last couple of times we have been there – we’ve been close.”

Another top contender is looking for a little payback from Bristol after getting knocked out of the playoffs last year in a mid-race crash. Joey Logano has won enough at Bristol on both dirt and concrete to be reckoned with and he will be looking to add another famed BMS Gladiator Sword to his collection if he can keep his No. 22 Penske machine out of trouble.

“The track always changes from what you have there in practice and qualifying to what you have by the end of the race so it’s always cool,” said Logano, who won the Night race in 2014 and 2015 and claimed the inaugural Food City Dirt Race there in 2021. “I like Bristol, it’s my favorite track. I love going there and having that great stadium environment with the fans right there on top of you. It’s always a tough, grueling 500 laps around there.”

Last year’s Night Race winner Denny Hamlin feels like he might have a leg up on the competition if he goes back to last September’s setup and continues to keep the crowd upset if he can “beat all their favorite drivers” like he famously said following his win six months ago.

Hamlin will try to capture his fourth Bristol victory at the controls of his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing machine and first in the Food City 500. He says the fans always get him revved up inside ‘The Last Great Colosseum.’

“The energy is why I love this track,” Hamlin has said. “It doesn’t matter whether it’s cheers or boos, you’ve earned the right to be on that stage for that given moment… But to have just the electricity, that’s fun. It’s really fun in NASCAR to have that many passionate fans one way or another. That’s good for our sport.”

And last but not least of the highlighted pre-race favorites is Kyle Busch, who is the active win leader at the World’s Fastest Half-Mile with nine Bristol Cup Series victories, including eight on concrete and one on dirt. All of those wins came in a Toyota. He drives the No. 8 Chevy for Richard Childress Racing now and is no doubt champing at the bit to try and grab another Food City 500 victory, since his last one came way back in April 2019.

Busch will try to sweep the race weekend in a double as he is also entered in the No. 7 Chevy Silverado in the WEATHER GUARD Truck Race on Saturday night. Busch is the only driver in NASCAR history to ever sweep a triple at a race and he accomplished that feat twice at Bristol, in 2010 and 2017.

“I love Bristol,” Busch said. “Bristol is always fun and has got more challenging over the years, and it’s a little bit difficult to pass there now. The challenge there is the amount of banking and the load you see there. There’s just no time to relax and rest and that just wears on you lap after lap after lap, the repetitious nature of it. It’s been a while since I have been able to race the Truck race there and I am looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of a truck at Bristol.”

The list to watch also includes defending Cup Series champ Ryan Blaney, who is seeking his first Bristol win in the Cup Series, multi-time Bristol winner Brad Keselowski, recent Night Race winner Chris Buescher, and the Hendrick Motorsports tandem of Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott and William Byron, who are all three always a major threat to win at Bristol.

A trio of rookies also will take their turn at trying to join the Intimidator, Dale Earnhardt, in the record book as a rookie that was able to win at Bristol Motor Speedway. So far Earnhardt’s amazing effort in 1979 has stood the test of time, but the talented trio of Josh Berry, Carson Hocevar and Zane Smith will give it a shot this season to try and join the NASCAR icon as the second rookie to accomplish the feat.

The Bristol race weekend also will feature Saturday afternoon’s (March 16) Bush’s Beans Practice and Bush’s Beans Qualifying for both the NASCAR Cup Series and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will set the starting lineups for each race and precede Saturday night’s WEATHER GUARD® Truck Race.

In addition to Busch and fellow Cup regular Zane Smith, a host of tough NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series stars will battle in the Truck race, including Ben Rhodes, Grant Enfinger, Nick Sanchez, Las Vegas winner Rajah Caruth, Corey Heim, Ty Dillon and Christian Eckes, among others. The green flag is scheduled to drop at 8 p.m. ET for the 250-lap thriller (FS1, MRN Radio).

To purchase tickets for the Food City 500 or the WEATHER GUARD® Truck Race, please visit the BMS website, or call the BMS Ticket Sales Center at (866) 415-4158.

BMS PR