“Thunder Valley” welcomes back NASCAR

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Less than three days after taking the checkered flag at Charlotte Motor Speedway in a rain delayed event won by Chase Elliott, the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Bristol Motor Speedway for the first short-track race of the season.

The half-mile circuit near the border of Tennessee and Virginia has hosted 118 Cup Series races and 42 different drivers have visited the unusual elevated Victory Lane in the small infield.

Denny Hamlin will be looking to go back-to-back at Bristol after winning the fall race last year. If he wins on Sunday, it would be the 13th different driver to win consecutive races in Thunder Valley. It was most recently done by Kyle Busch (fall 2017 and spring 2018, he also swept the races in 2009) and has been done by two other active drivers (Kurt Busch – 2003 sweep and 2004 spring race; Brad Keselowski – fall 2011-spring 2012).

Hamlin is one of two drivers this season with multiple victories after winning the season opener at Daytona and the second Darlington race. Joey Logano is the other, winning at Las Vegas and Phoenix prior to the stoppage due to the pandemic.

Kevin Harvick is the lone driver this season to finish in the top 10 in each of the opening eight races, with five of those being top-five results.