Former Bristol Motor Speedway winners Tony Stewart and Jeff Burton know a thing or two about getting around the World’s Fastest Half-Mile. And they know plenty about what it takes to make it to victory lane.

When the checkered flag falls on the Food City 500 Sunday, Burton can just about guarantee one thing:

“Bristol is one of the very few tracks on the circuit where you don’t have fluke winners,” said the 2008 Food City 500 winner. “Guys who don’t run well anywhere else can win at Daytona – an average race car driver doesn’t win at Bristol.

“Everybody has to be on it at Bristol and the winners here are typically hard racers. And, if you can win here, you feel like you can win anywhere. I look at Bristol as the ultimate test of where you are as a driver.”

Stewart, the three-time and defending NASCAR Sprint Cup champion and the 2001 August Night Race winner, concurs.

“Bristol’s just a tough place,” he said. “The concrete is always tough. It’s always a battle when you put 43 cars on a half-mile track – and you can never let your guard down.  But, it’s a fun, fun place.”

At the end of Sunday’s Food City 500, Stewart says there will be few, if any, cars that look the same as they did when the race started. And that, he says, is fine with him as long as he’s in the hunt for the win.

“I don’t care if my car is upside down, on fire, or in a hundred pieces, as long as we’re the first to cross the finish line there.”

For fans who may not have experienced the short track marvel, Stewart says they’re missing out on one of the sport’s greatest shows.

“Watching a race at Bristol is like putting 43 cars in a blender, it’s just non-stop action,” he said. “There’s no track on the circuit where fans are as close to the action as they are at Bristol. They are literally sitting right at the edge of the track – and there’s not a bad seat in the house.

“The first time you go there and you’re in the infield and you see how steep the banking is and how high the grandstands are up above you, you just feel like you’re in the middle of a volcano. It’s pretty intimidating.”

Stewart, Burton and the rest of the Sprint Car drivers hit the track for practice at noon on Ford Fan Friday, March 16, followed by qualifying at 3:40 p.m.

The Ford EcoBoost 300/Widow Wax 125 doubleheader is set for Saturday with the Nationwide Series event going green at 2 p.m., followed by the K&N race at approximately 6:15 p.m. Qualifying for the Ford EcoBoost is at 10:35 a.m. while qualifying for the Widow Wax 125 is at 5 p.m.

The 20th anniversary Food City 500 takes the green flag at 1 p.m.

March race weekend ticket packages, which include the March 18 Food City 500 and the Ford EcoBoost 300/Widow Wax 125, are available, starting at $99. A package in the Wallace Tower for both Sprint Cup races also is available for $99, while packages for fans 15 and younger are available for the March races at half price. Lower-row seating for the Food City 500 is available with tickets starting at $65 for adults and $32 for children 15 and under.

Tickets for the Ford EcoBoost 300/Widow Wax 125 doubleheader also are available, starting at $35 for adults and $17 for kids 15 and under, and may be purchased by calling toll free at 1-866-415-4158, 423-BRISTOL, or online at

Guests are encouraged to purchase in advance while the price is $5 less per grandstand ticket than the race-day cost for the same seat.

BMS season tickets, which include the Food City 500 and IRWIN Tools Night Race Sprint Cup races, as well as both the Ford EcoBoost 300, the Food City 250 and the Widow Wax 125, also are on sale. Pricing for all four races begins at just $175 in the Wallace Tower.