The 43 best stock car drivers in the world will be on the track Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway. Two four-time Sprint Cup champions — one of whom is going for an unfathomable fifth straight — will be among them.
There will be teams and drivers that represent such operatic themes as redemption, fate and suffering. All on what many consider the most dramatic stage in auto racing.
But the moment the gates at Bristol open for the Food City 500 and the crowd begins settling into the cold metal seats, fans will begin searching out Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski.
For many, there is only one really good storyline this weekend, and that is the on-going, increasingly intense feud between the veteran with the massive muscles and the kid with the defiant smirk.
You think this thing that started with Edwards' 200 mph flight into the frontstretch catchfence at Talladega early last year and has continued right up to Keselowski's mid-air pirouette and subsequent slamming to the ground on his roof at Atlanta Motor Speedway two weeks ago is over?
Then check this: When asked by Bristol promoters to pick a song — any song — to which he would like to be introduced during prerace ceremonies on Sunday, Keselowski went with “I Won't Back Down” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
Both drivers and their team owners were summoned to a meeting with NASCAR after the Atlanta race. Presumably they were warned to keep things cool. All parties in question will meet again with NASCAR this weekend. More warnings will ensue.
Edwards has attracted the heat of some of his sponsors and has been issued a three-race probation for the incident. What that means, nobody is sure, but presumably he had better keep cool this weekend.
Keselowski needs a good finish as he is in danger of falling out of the top 35 in owners points, so you figure he might have reason to play it cool at Bristol.