Excerpt from NASCAR Illustrated and SceneDaily.com:

Season Preview: Ten Sprint Cup Races We Can't Wait To See In 2011" by Jim Fluharty

(January 11, 2011)  -  The 38-race Sprint Cup Series (yes, there are 38 counting the two special events) is a marathon, a long, grueling season that represents one of the longest schedules in professional sports.

It’s a coast-to-coast, 10-month journey that taxes drivers and crewmen physically and mentally, requiring them to spend long weekends at a variety of challenging tracks and venues.

For fans, it can be a challenge just keeping up week to week and, at times it can be a bit monotonous, with more than a third of the races on similar 1.5 or 2-mile tracks.

But there are a handful of races each year that everyone eagerly anticipates, events that stoke the fires of competitors and generally bring a bit more drama and excitement for fans.

Here’s a look at 10 races that the staffs of SceneDaily.com and NASCAR Illustrated can’t wait to see:

(abbreviated)

2. Irwin Tools Night Race, Bristol Motor Speedway – There are few races fans anticipate more than the August night race. Though it has lost a bit of its luster in recent years, it is still one of NASCAR’s most exciting short tracks. Bristol is the one track where you can see a bit of everything – bumping, banging, nose-to-tail and door-to-door competition, controversial wrecks and tension that often cause tempers to flare. The Speedway Motorsports Inc. track also does a great job creating drama and building excitement. The night race at Bristol is like a heavyweight fight or a last-man-standing showdown at the Colosseum.