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Cup drivers heavy favorites in today's race

March 14th, 2014 7:16 pm by Jeff Birchfield

Cup drivers heavy favorites in today's race

BRISTOL —  There is just a handful of Sprint Cup Series drivers entered in today’s Drive to Stop Diabetes 300 for the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

Despite that fact, odds are the winner of today’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway will be a Sprint Cup regular. That’s because three of the Cup guys are Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth who have combined 14 Nationwide Series victories at the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile.”

Busch, who swept Nationwide Series races at Bristol last season, leads the way with a record six wins. It was Harvick’s track record which he surpassed.

Harvick has five Nationwide wins at Bristol. Kenseth is a three-time winner, although he hasn’t run in a Nationwide race at BMS since 2009.

All will be in top-flight equipment, Busch and Kenseth each drive for Joe Gibbs Racing, while Harvick is in basically a Hendrick Motorsports car for JR Motorsports.

If a full-time Cup driver doesn’t win today, odds are heavily stacked the winner will have a strong Cup connection. In fact, the top seven in the Nationwide Series points either drive for Cup teams or teams heavily affiliated with Cup organizations.

Regan Smith, who drives for JR Motorsports, is the current points leader. He started the season off with a win at Daytona, although Bristol hasn’t been his best track. He has just one top-10 finish in eight previous Bristol starts.

Trevor Bayne, the 2011 Daytona 500 champion, is currently second in the point standings. The Knoxville driver is in the No. 6 Ford for Roush-Fenway Racing. He has three top-10 finishes in 10 Bristol races, although he has two front-row starts.

Elliott Sadler, third in the points, is no longer a full-time Cup driver. The veteran campaigner has two Bristol wins and seven top-10 finishes in 14 starts. He will likely be a contender in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota as a teammate to Busch.

Ty Dillon, Brian Scott and Brendan Gaughan all three compete out of the Richard Childress Racing stable.

Dillon will be in the No. 3 Chevrolet,which his older brother Austin, drove to last year’s Nationwide Series championship. He qualified third and finished seventh in the top-10 in his only previous Bristol Nationwide start.

Chase Elliott, son of 16-time NASCAR most popular driver Bill Elliott, will be making his Bristol debut in the Nationwide Series. Elliott, currently fifth in points and a teammate in the race to Harvick and Smith, does have previous experience at Bristol.

He was the pole-winner for the Camping World Truck Series race last August and ultimately finished fifth. He also posted top-10 finishes in the K&N Pro Series and the X1-R Pro Cup Series at Bristol.

Qualifying for the Drive to Stop Diabetes 300 is scheduled to begin today at 10:05 a.m. and the race is slated to start at 2 p.m.

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