NASCAR Cup GFT AI Driver Rankings after the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway

Bob Francis - Go Full Throttle
3 min readMar 22, 2024

18 March 2024
By Bob Francis, Managing Editor
Go Full Throttle Racing News

BRISTOL, TN — Denny Hamlin wins Sunday‘s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway, the 52nd victory of Hamlin‘s career moving him to 13th all-time, and his first this season. In a wild, tire management dominated race, Hamlin lost the lead briefly to Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr. in the closing laps but regained it in traffic and beat Truex to the finish line by 1.083 seconds. Brad Keselowski from RFK Racing finished 3rd.

Denny Hamlin, driver of the №11 Express Oil Change Toyota, takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. (Image Credit: Jonathan Bachman Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the №11 Express Oil Change Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. (Image Credit: Meg Oliphant Getty Images)

In a race that produced 54 lead changes — a record for Cup Series short tracks the story line was the tires and the mysterious way they behaved in a race that saw the track start to eat through to the cords 45 laps into a green-flag run.

Goodyear brought the same tire that ran without issues in last fall‘s night race, but on Sunday, the concrete surface did not take rubber. Instead, marbles (small balls of rubber from degraded tires) accumulated high in the corners, making the top of the track untenable.

There were two variables that might have helped to account for the tire issues. The temperature was roughly 10–15 degrees cooler than it was for last year‘s night race, which was run on Sept. 16.

NASCAR also opted for a different resin in the bottom lane from the PJ1 traction compound previously in use.

Whatever the cause, with his short-track background, Hamlin was best equipped to deal with the surprising situation.

“That’s what I grew up here doing in the short tracks in the Mid Atlantic, South Boston, Martinsville,” said Hamlin, who grew up in Chesterfield, Viriginia. “Once it became a tire-management race, I really liked our chances.

“Obviously, the veteran in Martin, he knew how to do it as well. We just had a great car, great team. The pit crew just did a phenomenal job all day. Can’t say enough about them. … Man, it feels so good to win in Bristol.”

Updated NASCAR Cup GFT AI Driver Rankings after the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway

Go Full Throttle NASCAR AI Driver Rankings following the Food City 500 on March 17, 2024 at Bristol Motor Speedway (Image Credit: GFT Digital)

Who is UP and who is DOWN?
Kyle Larson retains the top spot in the NASCAR Cup GFT AI Driver Rankings after a 5th place finish at Bristol, with current Cup Series Champion Ryan Blaney P2, Martin Truex Jr. P3, and race winner Denny Hamlin moving up to P4. Other drivers making big moves up the rankings were Ty Gibbs +6, Brad Keselowski +7, JH Nemechek +8, Chris Buescher +4 and Joey Logano +8.

GFT Box Scores after Bristol

Next Race:

EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix

The Place: Circuit of The Americas

The Date: Sunday, March 24

The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET

The Purse: $9,740,789

TV: FOX, 3 p.m. ET

Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 231.88 miles (68 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 15),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 30), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 68)

--

--

Bob Francis - Go Full Throttle

Go Full Throttle editors and reporters bring you news & commentary on NASCAR, F1, IndyCar, and World of Outlaws. Member: National Motorsports Press Association