By Jerry Bonkowski and Bob Moore
48 JIMMIE JOHNSON, Chevrolet
Team: Hendrick Motorsports
WHERE HE STANDS: Jimmie Johnson remained in first place for the 18th straight week after Michigan. He leads second-ranked Clint Bowyer by 41 points and third-ranked Carl Edwards by 51 points.
BRISTOL RECORD: 23 career starts, 1 wins, 7 top-5s, 13 top-10s, 1 poles. Best career finish: First in spring 2010. Finished second in this race last year and was 22nd in this year's spring race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: With the exception of a 22nd-place finish in spring and a 35th-place finish in summer 2010, Johnson has been one of the most successful drivers at Bristol in the last 4 1/2 seasons. In the last nine races there, he has one win, a runner-up, two third-place finishes, a fourth, an eighth and ninth. Here's his thoughts on Saturday night's race: "Short tracks are fun. I'm looking forward it. The night race in Bristol is awesome. I tell many, many friends if they are going to pick one that is the one that they need to come see and be a part of for a lot of reasons. I'm excited to go back. We run well there. I'd like to find a little bit more and really be a car racing for the win and go to Victory Lane again. I have high expectations and expect to go there and run really well."
LOOKING BACK: Johnson took a huge hit in the points after Michigan. He came to MIS leading Clint Bowyer by 75 points, a margin that was cut to only 41 points after Johnson left Sunday's race prematurely with a blown engine. He ultimately finished 40th, the lowest of all four Hendrick Motorsports drivers.
ETC.: Johnson has completed 97.8 percent (11,262) of the 11,513 total laps contested in 23 career starts at Bristol. His average start there is 15.7 and average finish is 14.3. He has one DNF there.
15 CLINT BOWYER, Toyota
Team: Michael Waltrip Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: Clint Bowyer remained in second place for the sixth consecutive week after Michigan. But his margin behind series leader Jimmie Johnson shrunk from 75 to just 41 points, while his lead over third-ranked Carl Edwards is 10 points.
BRISTOL RECORD: 15 career starts, 0 wins, 5 top-fives, 8 top-10s, 0 poles. Best career finish: Third in summer 2007 and spring 2008. Was seventh in this race last year and fifth in this year's spring race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Bowyer comes into Saturday night's race at Bristol with an excellent chance to further cut the gap between himself and points leader Jimmie Johnson. But to make even more progress, Bowyer needs to win his first race of the season, plain and simple. Here's his thoughts on Saturday's race: "(Bristol is) one of my favorite racetracks - it always has been. Whether you get caught up in something or not, whether you get a bad finish or a good finish - it's just a coliseum. There is no better way of displaying our product of racing then they do it at Bristol. Period. It's the best you can ever have of our kind of car racing - on a short track in that bull ring like that. For a fan you don't get a better bang for your buck anywhere."
LOOKING BACK: After finishing sixth at Watkins Glen, Bowyer finished fifth at Michigan.
ETC.: As much as he loves short track racing, especially at Bristol, Bowyer has never won there and has had mixed success over the years. Bowyer has completed just 92.3 percent (6,933) of the 7,513 total laps contested in 15 career starts at Bristol. His average start is 20.3 and average finish is 16.2. He has two DNFs there.
99 CARL EDWARDS, Ford
Team: Roush Fenway Racing
WHERE HE STANDS: Carl Edwards remained in third place for the sixth consecutive week after Michigan. He trails points leader Jimmie Johnson by 51 (down from 80 points before Michigan), is 10 points behind second-ranked Clint Bowyer and leads fourth-ranked Kevin Harvick by 13 points.
BRISTOL RECORD: 18 career starts, 2 wins, 4 top-fives, 7 top-10s, 2 poles. Best career finish: First in summer 2007 and summer 2008. Was 22nd in this race last year and was 18th in this year's spring race there.
LOOKING AHEAD: Edwards is closing in on locking in his berth in the upcoming Chase for the Sprint Cup. But with the upcoming reseeding of the Chase standings after Richmond, Edwards needs another win or two in the three remaining pre-Chase races to significantly improve his seeding starting the Chase. Here's his thoughts on the race: "I love racing at Bristol, it's exciting for a number of reasons. We won there in the Truck series, the Nationwide series and the Cup series and we really got nothing to lose the next three races. We just want to go for wins and Bristol would be a good place to get one. It's a Saturday night race, there's a lot of energy around it and there's nothing like standing in victory lane on Saturday night in Bristol, so that's our mission."
LOOKING BACK: After a strong fourth-place finish at Watkins Glen, Edwards finished 10th this past Sunday at Michigan. He was looking for significantly better, but he also could have wound up significantly worse. He also failed to give himself a better birthday present, given his 34th birthday was August 15.
ETC.: Edwards has completed 95.2 percent (8,583) of the 9,013 total laps contested in 18 career starts at Bristol. His average start is 18.5 and average finish is 14.6. He has one DNF there.
29 KEVIN HARVICK, Chevrolet
Team: Richard Childress Racing