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NASCAR At Bristol: Food City 500 Stories To Watch

Race day at Bristol always seems a little different than at other places. The impending battle at The Last Colosseum is enough to put a race fan's hair on end.

Here are some stories to watch in today's Sprint Cup Food City 500.

Can Greg Biffle parlay his hot start and pole position into his first short track win? The Biff is off to the best start of his career, with a trio of third-place finishes to open the 2012 season. The Sprint Cup point leader has never won on a track smaller than a mile, with a 2005 triumph at the one-mile Dover International Speedway standing as his "lowest-distance" victory.

A.J. Allmendinger and Aric Almirola each start within the first four rows, does NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series pick up its first new winner of the year today? Allmendinger is driving for Roger Penske, who has always been successful at Bristol with drivers Rusty Wallace, Brad Keselowski, and Kurt Busch. Almirola meanwhile is trying to get Richard Petty's famous No. 43 to victory lane for the first time since John Andretti won at Martinsville in 1999. After picking up five first-time winners in 2011, Allmendinger and Almirola are definitely the top-two remaining drivers without a triumph to their credit.

Kyle Busch is not off to the best start, can the three-time Food City 500 winner get on track today? Busch starts 13th today, well within striking distance of front-row starters Biffle and Allmendinger. He didn't get the much-needed boost from the Nationwide race he needed, leading several laps but banging the wall late and being a non-factor at the checkered flag. Last season he was coming off a blown engine at home in Las Vegas when he won the race, so turning things around at Bristol is nothing new for "Wild Thing."

Jeff Gordon once owned this race, but he hasn't won it since 1998. Can he claim career win No. 86? Gordon won the spring event at Bristol four times, all in succession from 1995-98. He added a night race victory in 2002, but has not won at the track since. He seemed destined to end that drought last summer before losing to Brad Keselowski. He is off to a disappointing start this year, something a victory or at least a top-five result could help go a long way in curing for the four-time champion.

There are plenty of other stories to watch, and we'll be keeping an eye on all of them. So sit down, strap in, shut up, and hang on. We're goin' racin' at Bristol!

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.