5. Sleeper Stenhouse
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. could make for a great under-the-radar driver on Sunday.
In six starts at Bristol, Stenhouse posted two top fives and an average finish of 11.2 — his top totals at a single track. Stenhouse also has three Bristol top 10s — tied with Talladega for his best output at a single track.
Competing in his fourth full season, Stenhouse has one top five and two top 10s in seven 2016 starts. He is 17th on the Chase grid, eight points behind Kasey Kahne on the cutoff line.
6. History might be repeating itself for Martin Truex Jr.
On Saturday at Texas, Truex had the dominant car, leading a race-high 141 laps, but finished sixth because of an inopportune caution.
History might be repeating itself for Truex. Last season, he led the most laps in race Nos. 11-14, going winless until No. 14 Pocono.
In the past two seasons, Truex has led the most laps in five races but won one of them — a rate of 20 percent. Since 2011, 71 of the drivers who led the most laps in a race also won it — (38 percent of 187 races).
Truex will try to turn his luck around at Bristol. In 20 starts at there, Truex has two top-10 finishes — second (August 2011) and third (March 2012).
7. Defending the sword
Matt Kenseth is defending champion of the Bristol spring race. The fastest qualifier last April, Kenseth became the first driver since Carl Edwards (fall 2008) to win from the pole at Bristol. He had the lead when the race was stopped a third time for rain. NASCAR parked the drivers and quickly dried the track for a green-white-checkered finish. Kenseth held on to win the race, which went 11 laps past the scheduled 500.
In 32 career starts at Bristol, Kenseth has four wins, 13 top fives and 20 top 10s. Among active drivers at the Tennessee short track, he is first in average running position (10.9) and driver rating (102.5), as well as third in average finish (12.7).
8. Cool Carl
Last season, Carl Edwards didn’t log his first top-10 finish until the seventh race, but this season Edwards has six top-10 showings through seven races.
Edwards’s latest strong race came Saturday at Texas, where he was seventh. Edwards led 124 laps from the pole before rallying from a lap down (because of a loose tire).
Edwards seeks his first win and seventh top 10 in Sunday’s Food City 500 — a race he won two years ago. Overall, he has three wins, five top fives, 10 top 10s and an average finish of 14.0 in 23 starts at Bristol.
9. Tennessee Three
Two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback and Nationwide spokesman Peyton Manning will serve as Sunday’s honorary race official. At the track, the University of Tennessee legend will accompany fellow Nationwide spokesman Dale Earnhardt Jr. during driver introductions and take in the race from Earnhardt’s pit box.
Wrestling superstar Bill Goldberg will close the weekend Sunday as emcee of the Food City 500 driver introductions, a role he excelled in during last season’s April event.
10. Milestones within reach
— A victory by Kyle Busch or Matt Kenseth would be the 36th of either’s career, tying him with NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Isaac for 19th on all-time wins list.
— Jimmie Johnson needs 120 laps to become the ninth Cup driver all time to lead 18,000 laps. johnson also needs one top-10 finish to tie Bill Elliott for 12th on the all-time top-10 finishes list with 320.
— If Denny Hamlin or Ryan Newman is fastest qualifier, he will tie Fred Lorenzen and Darrell Waltrip for the sixth-most poles in the Cup series at Bristol Motor Speedway and be the most among active drivers.