Friday, August 17, 2018

Final Bristol Driver Ratings: 2018 Bass Pro Shops/NRA Night Race

Kyle Larson had the best 10-consecutive lap average during Bristol's final practice Friday.
MICAH ROBERTS' 2018 MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES DRIVER RATINGS
2018 BASS PRO SHOPS/NRA NIGHT RACE
BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY
SATURDAY, AUGUST 18, 2018 - 7:43 PM ET

RATING   DRIVER   ODDS     PRAC 1  QUALIFIED  PRAC 2   PRAC 3
 1. Kyle Larson 4/1
 2. Kyle Busch 3/1
 3. Kevin Harvick 5/1
 4. Ryan Blaney 15/1
 5. Denny Hamlin 12/1
 6. Erik Jones 12/1
 7. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 25/1
 8. Daniel Suarez 40/1
 9. Ryan Newman 100/1
10. Kurt Busch 18/1
11. Brad Keselowski 15/1
12. Chase Elliott 18/1
13. Jamie McMurray 100/1
14. Clint Bowyer 18/1
15. Aric Almirola 40/1

Opening odds courtesy of Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.

Micah Roberts, a former Las Vegas sports book director, has been setting auto racing odds in Las Vegas since 1994.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Bristol Betting Preview: 2018 Bass Pro Shops/NRA Night Race

Kevin Harvick won at Bristol in 2016. He's 5/1 to win Saturday night.
I'm not going to say Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick or Martin Truex Jr. won't win Saturday's Bass Pro Shops/NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, but I've got a good feeling that some other driver will win in the second visit of the season to the world's fastest half-mile track.

Sounds crazy, right?

They've only combined to win 17 of the 23 races this season and Busch has seven Cup wins on the high-banked concrete layout, including the last two raced there. He's also got nine Xfinity Series wins and five Truck Series wins there. He's also got the next move in the 'anything you can do I can do better' game he and Kevin Harvick have been playing all season. Harvick just broke the tie and passed Busch with his series-leading seventh win last week at Michigan.

“Yes and no," Busch said of responding to Harvick's win. "Certainly, Harvick has been fast there, too. I think he won there a couple of years ago. But obviously, we’re kind of on a hot streak with Bristol. We love going there. I would like to think that we can go there, be fast and be able to respond, absolutely. So we’ll see what we can do getting there, and hopefully having a fast racecar and doing what we normally do there, just try to stay out of trouble. It’s a tough place to stay out of trouble. This is the first time we’ve had M&M’S White Chocolate on the car, so hoping it keeps the good-luck streak alive and we can win three Cup races in a row for the first time there.”

The last driver to win three straight at Bristol was Kyle's big brother Kurt Busch (2003-04) who has a total of five wins at Thunder Valley, the last coming in 2006, the season prior to the repaving in between races in 2007. Kyle Busch won his first Bristol Cup race in the spring of 2007 in a Hendrick Chevy in the last race under the old layout which had steeper banking at 36 degrees in the turns and only one preferred groove. Now there are two grooves and the variable banking is 24 to 30 degrees.

Busch has been the best driver at Bristol since the changes and he's fast approaching Darrell Waltrip's all-time track record with 12 wins. Because of that dominance, I can't leave him out of the wagering strategy this week and I'll consider 3/1 odds to win offered at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook extremely fair. He won't be my top play, but I'll have Busch in a situation as insurance against all my other wagers so I'll break even or show a small profit if he wins.

Kevin Harvick is one of four active drivers to have won on both layouts and grabbed his second career Cup win at Bristol in the 2016 night race. He's finished eighth or better in his last six Bristol start (seventh-place in April race, no laps led) and his 13th-place average finish is second-best among actives. The Westgate has him at 5/1 which looks outstanding, but I can't back him this week.

One thing that should also be noted in favor of Harvick doing well this week is his Dover win in May. Dover is a 1-mile high-banked concrete layout, kind of like a bigger Bristol. Because the set-up requirements are similar there's a solid correlation between the tracks. In that race, Harvick led 201 of the 400 laps and was followed by teammate Clint Bowyer who led 40 laps. Brad Keselowski led 108 laps and finished sixth. More on him later.

One driver I feel confident about crossing off my betting list is Martin Truex Jr. who has the third-most wins this season with four. He's never won at Bristol in 25 starts. In fact, he's only had two top-fives in a career there, the last coming in 2012. He was 21st in this race last season and then was 30th there in April after an accident which raised his average finish at Bristol to 20.7. It's just not his track which is why the Westgate has him at 12-to-1 odds this week.

Despite Harvick having an incredible 17 top-fives in 23 starts this season, I'm leaving him off the list. Here's a couple guys I'm rolling with this week starting with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. who is 25-to-1 at the Westgate but can be found at higher odds elsewhere.

“Bristol is by far one of our best tracks statistically and my favorite track," Stenhouse said. "We had a strong run there earlier this year so hopefully we can carry the information we learned into this weekend. I think the night race at Bristol is by far one of best races of the year. Hopefully, we can get our Fastenal Ford into victory lane and secure a spot in the playoffs.”

READ MORE HERE.....TOP-5 FINISH PREDICTION ON VEGASINSIDER.COM

Martin Truex Jr has just two top-fives in 25 Bristol starts

Martin Truex Jr is 12/1 to win at Bristol Saturday night.
DENVER, Colo. (Aug. 15, 2018) – Martin Truex Jr. knows that if he can avoid the wrecks at Bristol Motor Speedway in Saturday’s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race he will have a good shot at winning his first career short track race.

A 19-time tour winner, Truex has come close a number of times to winning at a NASCAR Cup Series short track but something always surfaced to curtail his chance of victory.

In the spring race at Bristol it didn’t take long for Truex to experience problems. He was collected in a Lap 3 multicar accident at the half-mile oval.

“I haven’t had the best of luck at short tracks,” said Truex. “But there have been opportunities to win at short tracks, including Bristol. I also feel we had the car to beat in the last two races at Richmond (.75-mile track). We were confident going into this year’s spring race at Bristol but got damaged on the third lap in a multicar wreck.”

Another missed opportunity of a short track win was when Truex was leading late in the April, 2017 Bristol race but was called for a pit road speeding penalty.

“Bristol is one of those places you have to be perfect all day in order to win,” Truex noted. “Even though I have had my share of misfortunes at Bristol, I continue to feel confident about racing there.”

When Truex talks about misfortunes at Bristol the statistics back him up with one top-10 finish in the last 12 races.

“We need to change that and hopefully it will be this weekend,” Truex said.

Truex, who will drive the No. 78 Bass Pro Shops/Ducks Unlimited Toyota Camry at Bristol, will be aiming to acquire a few more playoff points with only three races remaining before the 10-race post-season commences.

Truex is ranked third with 27 playoff bonus points entering Bristol. He is also ranked third in overall driver points.

“We’ll be racing smart but not holding back either,” Truex said. “The competition is definitely picking up and to get to Homestead as one of the final four you have to be consistent, avoid mistakes and stay away from accidents.”

Along with his four wins this season, the Furniture Row Racing driver has also posted 15 top-five finishes in the 23 races contested. His average start is 9.6 and average finish is 9.3.

Truex’s career record at Bristol includes 25 starts, two top fives, three top 10s and 230 laps led. His average start at Bristol is 16.2 and has an average finish of 20.7.

Kyle Busch goes for third straight Bristol win, eighth overall

Kyle Busch is the 3/1 favorite 
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M’S White Chocolate Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing: 

Bristol is arguably your best track. Do you feel like you’re in perfect position to respond to Kevin Harvick’s win last week? 
“Yes and no. Certainly, Harvick has been fast there, too. I think he won there a couple of years ago. But, obviously we’re kind of on a hot streak with Bristol. We love going there. I would like to think that we can go there, be fast and be able to respond, absolutely. So we’ll see what we can do getting there, and hopefully having a fast racecar and doing what we normally do there, just try to stay out of trouble. It’s a tough place to stay out of trouble. This is the first time we’ve had M&M’S White Chocolate on the car, so hoping it keeps the good-luck streak alive and we can win three Cup races in a row for the first time there.” 

What makes Bristol Motor Speedway so unique and a place that fans love? 
“Bristol Motor Speedway is one of the best racetracks on the circuit. All the fans love it because of the excitement, the run-ins and the close-quarter action with all the cars being packed on top of one another at a half-mile racetrack with us 40 lunatics running around in a tight circle. With the fans, the atmosphere there always makes for a good time.” 

You and your brother have strong records at Bristol – he has five wins and you have seven. What do you remember most about Bristol from over the years? 
“I remember watching when I was a kid – I wasn’t there racing, yet – watching Kurt win his first race at Bristol and then having the epic battle with Jimmy Spencer there. That was a lot of fun to watch and see how Kurt was able to get his first win there and, of course, the years that I’ve been able to put cars in victory lane or wishing I could go back and get a few more of those wins that I missed out on – I’d have a heck of a lot more than just seven. I think nothing comes close to races in the fall of 2010 and last year when I won the Truck race, the Xfinity race and the Cup race all in the same weekend. That was awfully special to pull off and with as much things as can happen there and as much carnage that can happen there. It certainly made for an awesome weekend and one for the record books. Doing it the first time was a bit more special, but last year was really neat and good memories I’ll always have, as well.” 

Do you think anyone will ever win another seven races in a row at Bristol, like Darrell Waltrip did from 1981 to 1984? 
“No, I don’t think so. I think the way the sport was then is certainly different than the way the sport is now. When you hit on something back in that day, you might have been able to keep it at that particular racetrack for a lot longer than you can, now. The way that tech goes and the way you have to tear down your car at the racetrack and having people looking at it from not very far away, they can see what you’re doing and, then again, they go to the tech center and they pull apart the shocks and they pull apart the bump stops and they basically give away to everybody else what you’re doing. I don’t think you’ll ever see seven in a row at a particular racetrack again, but I could be wrong. Deep down, I would like to say that I could do it, but I know that, even with the team I have and the crew and the talent and everything we’ve got going on with the M&M’S White Chocolate car, that’s going to be hard to do. It’s fun to reminisce about those days and about what it’s all about but, sometimes you hear these comments about our sport. And they talk about how great it was in the ’70s or the ’80s, and you look at some of the results and there’s eight cars that finish and the second-place car is three laps down and this guy has now won five in a row at a particular racetrack and it’s, like, ‘How is that the good old days?’ Is that really what would be exciting these days? I don’t think so. Not unless it’s your favorite driver, and there are a lot of fans out there who pull for different drivers.” 

What is your first memory of Bristol and what is your best story of success? 
“I remember my first time, it was in an Xfinity Series car at a test session for Hendrick Motorsports. I remember I needed about 27 laps before I thought I was going to knock the wall down so with all the optimism and pumped-up feelings I had about going there, but after that it’s been pretty fun. We’ve had some challenging times there, but also I’ve had some good times there. Looking to continue that there this weekend with our M&M’s White Chocolate Camry. What’s the highlight? You can’t dismiss the sweeps there. I would say that the first one was really, really awesome and really, really special and last fall was great, too.”

Kurt Busch is 18/1 to win, looks for sixth Bristol win

Kurt Busch has yet to win on the new Bristol layout.
KURT BUSCH, Driver of the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing: 

Talk about Bristol Motor Speedway – you’ve won there five times. 
“I don’t know what it is about the track. My first couple times there, I was blown away by the speed and intensity of it. When I went back in the spring of 2002, everything slowed down and it was like I had a perfect manual on how to get around there. That was all brought to me by Jimmy Fenning (former crew chief from Roush-Fenway Racing). He really helped calm me down and told me the different points to look for. The biggest key is knowing when to run hard and when not to run hard. If you try to run hard every single lap, you’re not going to make it. There are certain points in the race when you run hard and there are certain points when you’re not necessarily cruising, but just trying to maintain the right pace. You go hard, and then you save a little bit and then you go hard again because you saved a little bit. It’s a matter of applying it at the right time.” 

And changes to Bristol since you starting running there in 2002? You have driven everything there. 
“I haven’t won since they put in the transition banking, the way it goes from the low groove to the high groove. They ground the high groove and that seemed to backfire on what they were trying to accomplish. The outside groove is now the preferred groove. When it heats up with rubber, it’s like glue. But you have to wait for it. You have to wait for that rubber to get warm and grab the tires. In the end, though, it’s still the same characteristics of Bristol. Lap times are still in the 15-second range. The races I’ve won there, we were maintaining good lap times throughout the 100-lap run. And that’s still what it takes to win at Bristol.” 

What do you like about how to approach a Bristol race? 
“I like how you can attack the track in certain situations. And then you have to cruise in other situations. You always have to know your surroundings at Bristol. When someone is on your rear bumper, or if you are really trying to pressure somebody hard, is there a reason to be doing that? You have to be one with the track and then just digest where the other cars are around you.”

Someone other than the Big-3 to win at Bristol?

Kyle Larson has led 472 laps between last three Bristol races.
As a Vegas bookmaker, Micah Roberts was the first to offer expanded NASCAR betting. Now he hands out NASCAR winners to his followers.

Roberts has nailed two of the last three race winners. Last week he called for Kevin Harvick to dominate at Michigan, and he did just that for his seventh win of the season. Three weeks ago, he was all over Kyle Busch at Pocono, pointing to not only his 26 career starts at the track but his motivation to win after a late bump from Harvick the week before. Busch rallied from the 28th position for the checkered flag.

Those are just the latest in a series of winning plays by the NASCAR betting expert.

Roberts called Harvick's win at Kansas Speedway this season, and at Bristol Motor Speedway he said Busch "owns this track" and would win there for the seventh time. The result: Busch came from behind and crossed the finish line ahead of Kyle Larson.

Earlier at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Roberts told SportsLine readers to jump on Harvick, who had the same 9-2 odds as Martin Truex Jr. and Larson. Harvick dominated. Roberts then was all over Harvick at Las Vegas as Harvick delivered another lopsided win. Roberts also was very high on Clint Bowyer in the STP 500 -- and Bowyer promptly snapped his 190-race winless streak there.

READ MORE HERE....SPORTSLINE.COM

Bristol NASCAR Cup Series Notes: 2018 Bass Pro Shops/NRA Night Race

Kyle Busch for three straight Bristol wins Saturday night.
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Next Race: Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race
The Place: Bristol Motor Speedway
The Date: Saturday, August 18
The Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN, 6:30 p.m. ET
Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 266.5 miles (500 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 125),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 250), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 500)


Putting it Together


No doubt Kevin Harvick is hopeful the good vibes he got in winning last weekend at Michigan will make a difference at the always-tough Bristol Motor Speedway half-miler this Saturday night.

There are good indicators for the seven-time 2018 winner Harvick entering the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). He has only two wins at the half-mile track, but the last came in the 2016 night race – and he won after qualifying 24th, the farthest back a winner had come since Dale Earnhardt Jr. won after qualifying 30th.

Harvick’s seventh season win on Sunday is also a good indicator of his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford team’s preparedness. Twice already in 2018 he’s put together consecutive wins. He won three straight very early in the season (at Atlanta, Las Vegas and Phoenix) and answered with consecutive trophies at Dover and Kansas. He’s won two of the last four races leading into Bristol – at New Hampshire and Michigan.


Bristol Royalty

There’s no one more confident when they arrive at the Bristol half-mile bullring than championship points leader and six-time 2018 race winner Kyle Busch. The 2015 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champ has seven wins here – most among active drivers – including the last two races. He won this race last year from the Busch Pole position. In fact, he swept the entire NASCAR trifecta weekend – winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Xfinity Series and Monster Energy Series race.

In all, he has seven Cup wins, nine Xfinity Series wins and five Truck Series victories at Bristol, and has really shown a propensity to get on hot streaks. In the Monster Energy Series alone, he won back-to-back races in 2009 (season sweep), 2010-11 and 2017-18. He won three straight races – TWICE – in the Xfinity Series (2010-11 and in 2013-14). Busch has led 529 laps in just the last five Cup races alone.

Busch arrives at Bristol with top-five finishes in nine of the last 10 races – including a third-place at Michigan last week in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. His last win was at Pocono three weeks ago.


Truex’ Achilles Heel

While his fellow competitors among the sport’s “Big 3” may be extremely confident about racing at Bristol, reigning Monster Energy Series champion Martin Truex Jr. may be a little less so. Of all the venues on the Cup schedule, statistically speaking, only the two restrictor plate tracks in Daytona Beach and Talladega, Alabama, have confounded Truex more than the half-mile Bristol “bullring.”

His average finish there is 20.7. He is still looking for his first win in 25 starts and he has only one top-10 in the last seven years – an eighth place in last year’s August Playoff race. He was strong in that race – leading 116 laps – more than half his career total laps led (230) at the track. He crashed at Bristol this spring, however, and finished 30th.

The good news is that Truex would appear “next up” on the Big 3 circle of winning. Busch and Harvick have won three of the last four races. Truex’ best showing in that span is a runner-up at Watkins Glen.


Big Brother

Kyle Busch may certainly be setting records at Bristol, but his older brother Kurt has proven to be formidable there as well. In fact, the only active Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver with more wins than Kurt (five) is his brother.

He has 10 top-five and 17 top-10s at Bristol – his top-10 total third-best among those racing this weekend. Busch would certainly love to find that groove again. He’s had only five top-10 finishes in the last 15 Bristol races, however, he shows up there this weekend in the midst of positive momentum.

Busch has five top-10s in his No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford in the last five races – and won the pole position at New Hampshire last month. He’s led 150 laps during that five-race span – a third of his season total.


Don’t Count Out Stenhouse

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. currently sits in 17th place in the driver standings – one position below the 16-driver Playoff cutoff. However, the 30-year-old driver of the No. 17 Roush-Fenway Racing Ford will certainly be looking to “win” his way into the postseason this weekend at Bristol.

It is Stenhouse’s best track statistically and at this point with only three regular season races remaining, his brightest hope in advancing to the postseason.

Stenhouse has six top-10 finishes in 11 starts at Bristol and his average finish of 10.18 is his best mark at any track on the Monster Energy Series schedule. Twice he has finished runner-up at Bristol – in March, 2014 and most recently, August, 2016.


Looking to Get Back to the Lead

Ryan Blaney looked well on his way to contending for the Cup Series victory in April at Bristol Motor Speedway, but the popular Team Penske driver was collected in a six-car accident while leading the race and was scored 35th.

Blaney, who has won at Bristol in both the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series, led 100 laps in the spring race and his No. 12 Team Penske Ford was out front when he was caught in a multi-car accident as he was approaching cars on the end of the lead lap.

“It’s obviously frustrating when lapped cars wreck and take the leader out. That’s unfortunate,” Blaney said after being checked out at the infield care center. “That stinks. I thought we had a good car and nothing to show for it.”

Blaney has one top-10 (summer, 2017) in six Bristol Monster Energy Series races. He’s ranked eighth in the points standings with three top-10s in the last five races including a season-best runner-up at Kentucky Speedway last month.


Tale of the Tape

The Sunoco Rookie of the Year race remains interesting as it features two talented and highly-regarded young drivers in 24-year old Bubba Wallace and 20-year old William Byron. Both brought impressive resumes into NASCAR’s major leagues and both have fared well making their way through a highly competitive season.

Byron, who drives the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, is ranked 21st in the standings – with an 83-point edge over 25th place Wallace. Byron had a pair of consecutive top-10 finishes (at Pocono and Watkins Glen) snapped Sunday in Michigan with a 36th-place finish. His history at Bristol includes a fourth-place finish in the 2016 Camping World Truck Series race. He did not have a top-10 in the Xfinity Series there last year and was 18th in the April Monster Energy Series race.

Wallace, driver of the No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet, finished 16th in the April race at Bristol – leading six laps, the most so far in a single race for him. His history would suggest the track may be one of his better venues. He had a seventh-place in the 2016 Xfinity Series race there and a runner-up finish to Brad Keselowski in the 2014 truck race there.

He is looking for his first top-20 finish since a 14th-place finish in the Daytona night race, six weeks ago.


Pushing for the Playoffs

With just three races remaining in the regular season, and only eight drivers locked in on wins, the pressure is on this weekend in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race (Saturday, 7:30 p.m., NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) to get to Victory Lane for the chance at postseason glory.

Here’s a look at active, championship-contending drivers who have wins at upcoming tracks but have yet to visit Victory Lane in 2018:

Bristol: Ku. Busch, Hamlin, Johnson, Kahne, Keselowski

Darlington: Hamlin, Johnson

Indianapolis: Kahne, Johnson, Jamie McMurray, Paul Menard, Newman

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Denny Hamlin has finished third past three Bristol night races

Denny Hamlin is 12/1 to win Saturday night at Bristol.
Denny Hamlin
#11 FedEx Freight Toyota
Joe Gibbs Racing

Race Info:
Race: Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race
Date/Time: Saturday, Aug. 18/7:30 p.m. ET
Distance: 500 Laps/266.5 Miles
Track Length: .533 mile
Track Shape: Oval
Banking: 24-28 degrees
2017 Winner: Kyle Busch

Express Notes:


Michigan Recap: Denny Hamlin finished eighth in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Series race at Michigan International Speedway, notching his 12th top-10 finish of the season. Hamlin started on the pole and led the race’s first 13 laps, ultimately finishing sixth in Stage 1. Varying strategies in Stage 2 pushed Hamlin outside the top-10, but quick work on pit road by the crew and timely adjustments by crew chief Mike Wheeler helped the team recover. Hamlin lined up ninth on the final restart with 57 laps to go, and he gained one spot during the long green flag run to end the event won by Kevin Harvick.

Bristol Preview: The Series returns to Bristol Motor Speedway for Saturday night’s 500-lap event under the lights at the half-mile Tennessee bullring. Hamlin has captured three poles at “The Last Great Colosseum,” tied for a Series-best among active drivers. Earlier this season, Hamlin came back from three laps down to finish 14th in the event won by Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch.

Delivering Laps for FedEx Cares: This season, FedEx is tying the performance of the #11 FedEx Toyota on the track to its efforts to improve road safety through a new program, Delivering Laps for FedEx Cares, by donating $111 for each lap Hamlin leads and $11,000 for each race victory to Safe Kids Worldwide, a nonprofit working to protect kids on the road, at home and at play. FedEx will also contribute $111,000 to Safe Kids if the #11 team wins the 2018 NASCAR championship. New for the 2018 season, the Denny Hamlin Foundation will also match the total donation to Safe Kids Worldwide.

After 23 regular season races, Hamlin has led 259 laps resulting in a $28,749 donation to Safe Kids Worldwide which will ultimately be matched by the Denny Hamlin Foundation. Fans can track the total amount donated to date from the Delivering Laps for FedEx Cares program on the homepage of.

Press Kit: Download the 2018 FedEx Racing press materials at www.fedexracing.com/presskit, including bios for Denny Hamlin, Mike Wheeler and Joe Gibbs Racing leadership, program highlights and statistics.

Hamlin Statistics:

Track: Bristol Motor Speedway
Races: 25
Wins: 1
Poles: 3 (tied for Series-best)
Top-5: 7
Top-10: 12
Laps Led: 611
Avg. Start: 14.7
Avg. Finish: 15.3

Hamlin Conversation:

Following back-to-back poles and a top-10 finish at Michigan, what is the #11 FedEx Racing team’s goal heading into Bristol race weekend?

“This FedEx Racing team has worked really hard, and it’s been good to see that start to show in recent results. We still have some room for improvements to get us exactly where we want to be, but our ultimate goal is to lead more laps, win more Stages and more races so that we can be a team to contend with come Playoffs.”

Jimmie Johnson respected at Bristol with 20/1 odds to win

Jimmie Johnson had a season-best third-place in spring Bristol race.
Jimmie Johnson on racing at Bristol:
“Bristol really takes a lot out of you both mentally and physically. It’s the most physical track we run and you have to stay sharp and on your toes while there is just chaos everywhere. We’ve put together some solid finishes the past few races at Bristol and had a good run in the spring race. Last week at Michigan was one of the best cars my team gave me all year. If it wasn’t for a loose wheel at the end we would have been a solid top-10. We are making progress.”

RETURN TO BEST FINISH SO FAR: The last outing at Bristol Motor Speedway in April resulted in a third-place finish for Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 crew – their best finish of the season to date. Throughout the chaotic race, which started on a Sunday and was completed on a Monday due to rain, Johnson made some notable on-track evasive moves, driving through several multiple-car incidents to survive the 500-lap event.

SHORT-TRACK STUD: Johnson has 14 total wins on short tracks across the NASCAR Cup Series circuit, which is the most of all active drivers. In addition to his two wins at Bristol, the 42-year-old driver has nine wins at Martinsville Speedway and three wins at Richmond Raceway. In 99 short-track starts, the El Cajon, California, native has accumulated five pole positions, 28 top-five finishes, 57 top-10s and 77 top-20 results. Johnson has led 4,238 laps on short tracks and has completed 97.8 percent of all laps run. Also impressive, in those 99 starts, Johnson has only three DNFs (did not finish).

CONSISTENCY IS KEY: Over the last nine races at Bristol Motor Speedway, Johnson has racked up some consistent finishes. He has a win and a runner-up result, five top-five finishes and six top-10s – both of which are either first or tied for first in the NASCAR Cup Series in that span – and his average finish of 8.22 is the best among drivers to compete in all nine races. During that span, he has led 125 laps at the track. In April at Bristol, he drove from 17th to first to win Stage 1, ultimately taking the checkered flag in third – his best finish of the season to date. Since the advent of stage racing at Bristol, Johnson and Kyle Larson are the only drivers with top-10 finishes in both Stage 1 and 2 in all three races. In each of those three races, Johnson is the only driver to never have finished outside of the top five in Stage 2.

MICHIGAN REWIND: Johnson ran better than his 28th-place result showed at Michigan International Speedway. Starting 19th, he worked his way toward the front of the field throughout the event. Pit strategy helped him gain the lead at the start of Stage 2, and he led 13 laps around the two-mile track in the Irish Hills of Michigan. In the closing laps, Johnson looked as though he would bring home a solid top-10 finish before a vibration caused him to bring the No. 48 Lowe's for Pros Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 to pit road with seven laps to go. The unscheduled stop relegated the No. 48 team to a 28th-place finish.

NEXT UP, 84: Johnson's next trip to Victory Lane will be his 84th points-paying NASCAR Cup Series win. He secured his 83rd in June 2017 to tie NASCAR Hall of Famer Cale Yarborough for sixth on the all-time wins list. An 84th win would tie Hall of Famers Darrell Waltrip and Bobby Allison for fourth all-time. Johnson is currently 10 wins behind former teammate Jeff Gordon, who has 93 victories and is third on the list. Johnson has the most wins of all active drivers and No. 48 team crew chief Chad Knaus has the most wins of all active crew chiefs with 81.

BIG EARL AT PRE-RACE PIT STOP: Longtime No. 48 team spotter Earl Barban will appear at the Pre-Race Pit Stop, located in the infield at Bristol Motor Speedway, for a fan question-and-answer session on Saturday, Aug. 18, at 4 p.m. local time.

CELEBRATE WITH SEVEN-TIMERS: Fans attending the race at Darlington Raceway will have an exclusive opportunity to hear from many of the stars and legends of NASCAR at Darlington’s “Saturday Night Celebration” event taking place at the track on Sept. 1. Seven-time Cup Series champion Johnson will appear alongside NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty. For more information, click here.
 

2018 Season

  • 14th in points
  • 23 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 2 top-five finishes
  • 7 top-10 finishes
  • 29 laps led
 
 

Career

  • 602 starts
  • 83 wins
  • 35 pole positions
  • 224 top-five finishes
  • 348 top-10 finishes
  • 18,692 laps led
 
 

Track Career 

  • 33 starts
  • 2 wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 12 top-five finishes
  • 19 top-10 finishes
  • 914 laps led
 

Multi-Race Winners in Bristol History

Kyle Busch has the most Bristol wins among active drivers.
Monster Energy Series
Bristol Multi-Race Winners


Darrell Waltrip 12
Cale Yarborough 9
Dale Earnhardt 9
Rusty Wallace 9
Kyle Busch 7
David Pearson 5
Jeff Gordon 5
Kurt Busch 5
Bobby Allison 4
Carl Edwards 4
Matt Kenseth 4
Fred Lorenzen 3
Richard Petty 3
Alan Kulwicki 2
Brad Keselowski 2
Jimmie Johnson 2
Joey Logano 2
Kevin Harvick 2
Mark Martin 2
Terry Labonte 2

William Byron is 100/1 to win at Bristol

The No. 24 won five times at Bristol with Jeff Gordon.
William Byron on racing at Bristol:
“I think the Bristol night race is the signature race of the summertime. It’s a lot of fun just as a fan, and hopefully a lot of fun as a driver. It’s a good track. Bristol’s just very intense on your body – I feel like it’s the most intense race of the year physically. I think you just prepare for that and try to make sure you’re ready for 500 laps there.”

Byron on driving more aggressively at short tracks:
“I think the cars are so fast nowadays, you have to keep the fenders on the car to be competitive. But, you’re more aggressive and you don’t give near as much to other guys as you would at other places. The last race there was intense the whole time because you were trying to guess when the rain was going to get there.”

Byron on his first memory of the Bristol night race:
“I went to the night race in 2009. I think Kyle Busch won the race and it was a milestone start or something big for Mark Martin, which was pretty cool. It was just a neat race; I had never been to the night race and it was a spectacle for sure. It was fun to watch.”


LIBERTY U AND IG STORY TAKEOVER: At Bristol Motor Speedway, the blue and red Liberty University colors will adorn the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 for the 12th time this season. Liberty is the majority primary partner of the No. 24 team with 14 races in 2018, with the final two races as primary scheduled for Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Richmond Raceway. Liberty University, founded in 1971, offers more than 550 unique programs of study from the certificate to the doctoral level. William Byron, a junior majoring in business communications, takes online classes at Liberty, which offers more than 250 programs online. After a summer break, he’ll start back with classes in the next few weeks. Byron will take over Liberty University’s Instagram stories (@libertyuniversity) on Saturday to give fans and students a behind-the-scenes look at race day, so be sure to check it out.

BRISTOL STATS: Byron has four national series starts at Bristol Motor Speedway – one earlier this year in the NASCAR Cup Series, two in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and one in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series – in addition to one regional touring series start in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. In the April Cup race, the 20-year-old qualified 11th and came home 18th after rain interrupted the race on Sunday and it was completed on Monday. His best Xfinity finish is 12th, while he earned top-fives in Truck Series and K&N competition. In the truck series, he led a lap near the end of the event before coming home fourth, and in the K&N race, he came just shy of the win with a runner-up finish. Across all the NASCAR series, Byron’s average finish at “The Last Great Colosseum” is 11.8. At the 0.533-mile oval, 15 drivers have scored top-five finishes as rookie, including Chase Elliott when he drove the No. 24 Chevy in 2016. Five drivers have earned their first win at Bristol, with Kurt Busch the most recent in 2002.

NO. 24 AT BRISTOL: The Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet has a strong history at Bristol Motor Speedway, thanks largely to Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon. Of the organization's 11 wins at Bristol, Gordon was responsible for five behind the wheel of the No. 24 Chevy. Gordon’s first win at the 0.533-mile oval came in April 1995, and he remains the third-youngest driver to win a race at Bristol at 23 years, 7 months and 29 days.

BYRON SCHEDULED FOR THURSDAY APPEARANCE: As part of the enhanced weekend festivities, Byron will participate in Bristol’s Food City Race Night on Thursday afternoon. His autograph session begins at 5 p.m. local time in the Hospitality Village outside of Turn 4 at the track. Admission is free, but only 150 wristbands will be distributed for the session, starting at 10 a.m. local time on Thursday at the wristbands distribution tent in front of the Hospitality Village.

BYRON AT CHEVY STAGE: On Saturday, Aug. 18, Byron will appear at the Team Chevy Stage at 5 p.m. local time for a question-and-answer session.

CLOSE TO HOME: Chris Burkey, the pit crew coach for the Nos. 9 and 24 teams, hails from Greeneville, Tennessee, which is only 47 miles southwest of Bristol Motor Speedway. Burkey has an extensive background in coaching, getting his start in football. He played football for Wingate University, where he eventually started his coaching career. Burkey coached college football from 1992 to 2005 for Wingate, East Tennessee and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In 2005, he joined the NFL’s Miami Dolphins as a scout. Looking for a new challenge, Burkey made the transition from football to NASCAR when he was hired as a developmental pit crew coach for Hendrick Motorsports in 2009. He moved up to the head coach position for the former Nos. 5 and 24 teams in 2014.

Alex Bowman fifth-place last time at Bristol

Alex Bowman is 40/1 to win this week at Bristol.
Alex Bowman on racing at Bristol:
“Bristol Motor Speedway is a lot of close racing, and in the spring we had a really good car there. We struggled through practice and then all of a sudden in the race it was really strong. I think track position means a lot there and we started closer to the front, but our car was really good in the race. I think we can definitely take that same package and probably be really good there this weekend.”

Bowman on the upcoming off weekend:
“After Bristol, the Cup teams have the next weekend off. It is going to be nice to have a weekend off and get to spend a little time at home with friends and my dogs. We are going to Nashville that weekend with some friends, so I am really looking forward to having some time off and just hanging out with friends and exploring Nashville.”


CAREER BEST: Alex Bowman’s captured his first career top-five finish earlier this year when the NASCAR Cup Series visited Bristol Motor Speedway. The No. 88 team brought home a fifth-place finish in the weather-delayed event in April. The team has two top-10 finishes at short tracks this season, also including a seventh-place result at Martinsville. If Bowman were to win this weekend in Bristol, he would be the seventh Hendrick Motorsports driver to capture a win at the track.

BOWMAN’S BRISTOL STATS: Bowman has five previous Cup Series starts at Bristol Motor Speedway. Earlier this year, the No. 88 team qualified eighth before the 25-year-old driver captured his first career top-five finish. The Tucson, Arizona, native has two previous starts at the track in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, where he has an average finish of 14.5.

IVES AT BRISTOL: No. 88 team crew chief Greg Ives will call the shots atop the pit box for the eighth time at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. Ives has two top-five finishes and three top-10s at the Tennessee venue. Ives has one runner-up finish, which came back in 2016 when Dale Earnhardt Jr. was behind the wheel.

GOODYEAR TIRE TEST: The No. 88 team is participating in a Goodyear Tire Test at Texas Motor Speedway Tuesday and Wednesday this week. Bowman will be available to the media in the Texas Motor Speedway media center on Wednesday at 12:15 p.m. local time.

WELCOME VALVOLINE: Valvoline Inc. – a leading worldwide supplier of premium branded lubricants and automotive services – extended its partnershipwith Hendrick Motorsports through 2022 on Jan. 30, 2018. Valvoline will be on board the No. 88 Camaro ZL1 during two events this season starting this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway and again at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in September. The Official Lubricants Partner for Hendrick Motorsports also serves as an associate sponsor on the team’s full stable of Chevrolets. The No. 88 Valvoline Camaro ZL1 paint scheme was unveiled on June 14. Check it out here.

MEET BOWMAN: The driver of the No. 88 Valvoline Camaro ZL1 will participate in the NASCAR Youth Autograph Session on Saturday, Aug. 18, at Bristol Motor Speedway from 3:30 to 4 p.m. local time. The session will take place in the Kid’s Zone in the Midway outside the facility. Bowman will be at the Chevrolet display on Saturday, as well, from 4:05 to 4:20 p.m. local time for a question-and-answer session and an autograph signing.

Several legitimate long shot candidates to win at Bristol

Kyle Larson led the most laps in the April Bristol race.
There are only three more regular season races remaining in the NASCAR Cup Series before the green flag of the Playoffs drops Sept. 16 in Las Vegas, the first time our beloved Las Vegas Motor Speedway will have two Cup races in a year.

While I can’t wait for that new experience, I’m also getting a little antsy waiting for Saturday’s Bass Pro Shops/NRA Night Race at Bristol. It’s the fastest half-mile track in the world where drivers are crammed together like packed sardines, bumper-to-bumper and fender-to-fender, and tempers always flare.

The first 23 races have seen three drivers combined to win 17 of the races led by Kevin Harvick’s career-high seven wins following his Michigan victory Sunday. Las Vegan Kyle Busch has six wins, which includes a win in the first Bristol race this season in April. It was his second straight win at Bristol, giving him seven overall in Thunder Valley making him the active leader.

Martin Truex Jr. has the third-most wins this season with four and he’s never won at Bristol in 25 starts. In fact, he’s only had two top-fives in a career there, the last coming in 2012. He was 21st in this race last season and then was 30th there in April after an accident, which raised his average finish at Bristol to 20.7. It’s just not his track, which is good news because I can simply scratch his name off as a candidate to win and concentrate on the rest of the field.

READ MORE HERE....GAMINGTODAY.COM

Ricky Stenhouse Jr has series best 10.1 average finish at Bristol

Ricky Stenhouse Jr is down to 25/1 to win at Bristol.
Team: No. 17 Fastenal Ford Fusion
Crew Chief: Brian Pattie
Twitter: @Stenhouse17Team, @stenhousejr, and @roushfenway

ADVANCE NOTES

Stenhouse at Bristol Motor Speedway


Stenhouse has 11 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) starts at Bristol Motor Speedway, with an average starting position of 20.4 and average finishing position of 10.2.

In his 11 MENCS starts, Stenhouse has scored four top-five and six top-10 finishes at the ‘World’s Fastest Half-Mile’.

Last time at Bristol

With 100 laps remaining and fresher tires, the Roush Fenway Racing driver was reeling in the leaders and worked his way into the second position before a caution flag was displayed. Stenhouse restarted in the fourth position and after a great restart was on Kyle Larson’s bumper battling for the lead, but a tight handling condition kept him from completing the pass forcing him to settle with a fourth-place finish.

Tennessee native

Lead engineer on the No. 17 team, Randy Seals, grew up in McMinnville, Tennessee, which is about four hours from Bristol Motor Speedway. Seals is an avid pilot who flies his University of Tennessee orange plane to most of the close races, including Bristol.

In the Points


With three races remaining until the Playoffs, Stenhouse sits 62 points out of the final transfer position.

On the Car


Fastenal is currently in its seventh season as a primary partner in the MENCS for Roush Fenway. They spent three years on the No. 99 before jumping over to the No. 17 entry, and were the primary partner on the No. 60 Xfinity team that captured the owner’s championship in 2011.

Stenhouse Jr. on racing at Bristol:


“Bristol is by far one of our best tracks statistically and my favorite track. We had a strong run there earlier this year so hopefully we can carry the information we learned into this weekend. I think the night race at Bristol is by far one of best races of the year. Hopefully we can get our Fastenal Ford into victory lane and secure a spot in the playoffs.”

Ford Performance Bristol Preview

Kurt Busch has five Bristol wins, four of them driving a Ford.
FORD PERFORMANCE NASCAR: BRISTOL ADVANCE

Bristol Motor Speedway will be hosting a triple-header this weekend as all three major series compete on the half-mile banked oval. Kevin Harvick’s win at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday was the 10th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory for Ford in 2018, matching its season total from a year ago. Here’s a look at how Ford has fared in all three series through the years, along with some updated historical notes.

NEXT CUP WIN WILL BE 100TH FOR FUSION

Kevin Harvick’s victory at Michigan on Sunday was the 99th points win for Fusion since becoming Ford’s flagship model in 2006. The vehicle has been responsible for a number of memorable moments, including Trevor Bayne’s surprising Daytona 500 victory in 2011 with the Wood Brothers and Greg Biffle recording Ford’s 1,000th NASCAR victory at Michigan International Speedway in 2013. Overall, 16 different drivers have scored at least one win with Fusion.

FORD IN THE MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES AT BMS

· Ford has 36 all-time series wins at BMS.

· Joey Logano (2) and Kurt Busch (4) have Ford wins at BMS while Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick have two each while driving with other manufacturers. Busch has five series wins overall.

· Roger Penske has the most BMS series wins among active owners with 12.

FORD IN THE NASCAR XFINITY SERIES AT BMS

· Ford has nine series wins at BMS.

· The last Ford victory came by Joey Logano in 2015 (Drive to Stop Diabetes 300).

· Jack Roush has five series wins at BMS by five different drivers (Mark Martin, Jeff Burton, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards and David Ragan).

FORD IN THE NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES AT BMS

· Ford has 5 all-time series wins at BMS.

· Joe Ruttman won the first series event at the track in 1995.

· Brad Keselowski’s only NCWTS win came at Bristol in 2014.

FIREBALL BURNS BRIGHT IN FORD DEBUT

Ford won its first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 31, 1963 when Fireball Roberts won the Southeastern 500. What made the win so noteworthy is that it marked the debut of Roberts with Ford as a teammate of Fred Lorenzen’s at Holman-Moody. The duo put on a dominant show that day as they combined to lead 329 of 500 laps with Roberts leading 165 and Lorenzen 164. Roberts passed his new teammate with eight laps to go and won by five seconds as the race saw only one caution for nine laps. Roberts went on to win four races in 1963 while Lorenzen won six times.

BRISTOL BECOMES BUSCH TERRITORY


Kurt Busch earned the first win of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career when he captured the Food City 500 on March 24, 2002. That marked the first of four wins that season and ignited a Bristol streak that saw Busch win four out of five at the track and three straight after sweeping both races in 2003 and the first event of 2004. Overall, Busch has five series Bristol wins, tying him with his brother, Kyle, for most victories among active drivers.

A THREE SERIES SWEEP

One of the most memorable Ford weekends in recent years came in August of 2014 when Ford swept all three NASCAR series races – Camping World Truck, XFINITY and Monster Energy Cup at Bristol Motor Speedway. Brad Keselowski captured his first NCWTS victory while Ryan Blaney took the XFINITY event. Joey Logano capped the weekend sweep when he passed Matt Kenseth with 45 laps to go and then had to hold off Keselowski to post his third win of the 2014 season. Logano was in control until caution came out with 69 laps to go. While he pitted for four tires, Kenseth and others stayed out which put Logano sixth on the ensuing restart with 63 to go. With fresh tires, however, he was able to move to the front in less than 20 laps and then hold off his Penske teammate down the stretch. It marked the first time Ford swept all three divisions in the same weekend since 2006 when Mark Martin (NCWTS) and Kenseth (NNS and MENCS) did it, ironically, at Bristol.

LOGANO WINS BACK-TO-BACK NIGHT RACES

Joey Logano held off a hard-charging Kevin Harvick over the final 25 laps to win the IRWIN Tools Night Race for the second consecutive year in 2015. Logano led four times for 176 laps, including all but four of the final 147 laps and that was because he pitted when the caution came out with 71 laps to go while Penske teammate Brad Keselowski opted to stay out for track position. Even though Keselowski had the lead on the ensuing restart, Logano’s four fresh tires enabled him to get the lead immediately and he held on over the final 64 circuits to post his 11th career victory.

BRISTOL BULLET POINTS

Rusty Wallace leads the way with five career Ford wins at BMS from 1994-2000 while Fred Lorenzen and Kurt Busch each won three consecutive races at the half-mile oval…In addition, Alan Kulwicki won five races during his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career and two of those came at Bristol Motor Speedway (1991-92)…Ford has swept both Bristol races seven times with the last coming in 2014 when Carl Edwards won the first event in March and Logano followed with his Night Race triumph in August.

ONE SMALL STEP FOR MANKIND

The date was July 20, 1969 and while Neil Armstrong we uttering those groundbreaking words as being the first man to step foot on the moon, David Pearson was busy winning at Bristol on the first race since the track installed high banking. What made the race even more interesting is that Pearson was relieved during the race by none other than Richard Petty, who was driving a Ford that season and dropped out earlier in the event. Even more ironic is that Petty was chasing Pearson for the championship that season, one in which Pearson eventually won for the second straight time.

FORD MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP WINNERS AT BRISTOL

1963 – Fireball Roberts and Fred Lorenzen

1964 – Fred Lorenzen (Sweep)

1965 – Junior Johnson and Ned Jarrett

1966 – Dick Hutcherson (1)

1968 – David Pearson (Sweep)

1969 – David Pearson (2)

1970 – Donnie Allison (1)

1971 – David Pearson (1)

1988 – Bill Elliott (1)

1990 – Davey Allison (1)

1991 – Alan Kulwicki (2)

1992 – Alan Kulwicki (1)

1993 – Mark Martin (2)

1994 – Rusty Wallace (2)

1996 – Rusty Wallace (2)

1997 – Dale Jarrett (2)

1998 – Mark Martin (2)

1999 – Rusty Wallace (1)

2000 – Rusty Wallace (Sweep)

2001 – Elliott Sadler (1)

2002 – Kurt Busch (1)

2003 – Kurt Busch (Sweep)

2004 – Kurt Busch (1)

2005 – Matt Kenseth (2)

2006 – Matt Kenseth (2)

2007 – Carl Edwards (2)

2008 – Carl Edwards (2)

2014 – Carl Edwards and Joey Logano

2015 – Joey Logano (2)

MULTIPLE FORD CUP WINNERS AT BRISTOL


5 – Rusty Wallace (1994, ’96, ’99, 2000*)

4 – Kurt Busch (2002, ‘03*, ‘04)

4 – David Pearson (1968*, ’69, ’71)

3 – Carl Edwards (2007, ’08, ‘14)

3 – Fred Lorenzen (1963, ‘64*)

2 – Alan Kulwicki (1991, ’92)

2 – Mark Martin (1993, ’98)

2 – Matt Kenseth (2005, ’06)

2 – Joey Logano (2014, ’15)

* Denotes season sweep

Odds to win 2018 Bass Pro Shops/NRA Night Race at Bristol

Ryan Blaney led 100 laps early in April Bristol race, crashed with the lead.
WESTGATE LAS VEGAS SUPERBOOK
ODDS TO WIN 2018 BASS PRO SHOPS/NRA NIGHT RACE
BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY
SATURDAY, AUGUST 18, 2018 - 7:43 PM ET

Kyle BUSCH 3/1
Kyle LARSON 7/2
Kevin HARVICK 5/1
Denny HAMLIN 12/1
Erik JONES 12/1
Martin TRUEX JR 12/1
Ryan BLANEY 15/1
Brad KESELOWSKI 15/1
Joey LOGANO 15/1
Clint BOWYER 15/1
Kurt BUSCH 18/1
Chase ELLIOTT 18/1
Jimmie JOHNSON 20/1
Aric ALMIROLA 25/1
Ricky STENHOUSE JR 25/1
Alex BOWMAN 40/1
Daniel SUAREZ 80/1
Ryan NEWMAN 100/1
Jamie McMURRAY 200/1
Paul MENARD 200/1
William BYRON 200/1
Austin DILLON 200/1
Trevor BAYNE 200/1
Darrell WALLACE JR 300/1
Kasey KAHNE 500/1
AJ ALLMENDINGER 1000/1
Chris BUSCHER 1000/1
Michael McDOWELL 5000/1
Ty DILLON 5000/1
FIELD (all others) 1000/1

Monday, August 13, 2018

Kevin Harvick wins at Michigan for seventh victory of season

Kevin Harvick was the 11-to-5 favorite to win Sunday at Michigan.
BROOKLYN, Mich. – Last week at Watkins Glen, Chase Elliott’s maiden victory on the road course interrupted the season of the Big Three.

But on Sunday at Michigan International Speedway, Kevin Harvick restored the status quo, winning for the seventh time this season and breaking a tie with third-place finisher Kyle Busch for most victories in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

Harvick led 108 of the 200 laps in the Consumers Energy 400 and cruised to a 3.233-second win over runner-up Brad Keselowski, who took over second place when Austin Dillon slowed with a cut tire on the next-to-last lap. Dillon nevertheless held fourth place at the finish, one spot ahead of Ryan Blaney.

The victory was Harvick’s second at the 2.0-mile track—the first having come in 2010—and the 44th of his career, tying him with NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott for 17th on a all-time win list. Harvick swept the first and second stages of the race and leap-frogged past Busch into the lead in Playoff points. Harvick now has 40 to Busch’s 35.

"The most important thing is winning races right now and getting all the points that you can get to position yourself well to get to Homestead," Harvick said. "That's what we've been trying to do all year is win races.

"That was our only goal. We didn't want to learn anything. We don't want to do anything different. We just want to go out, and we want to win."

Keselowski, who drove from his 18th-place starting position to the runner-up spot, was grateful to have a clean race.

"It’s nice to be able to get the finish we deserved," Keselowski said. "That’s important. It’s important to get what you have out of your car. Although we might not have race-winning speed, it’s important to execute.

"So with that in mind, it’s good for everybody’s morale at Team Penske, and on the No. 2 team as well, but of course we want to break through and win as well. As I indicated, we not where we need to be to just win on speed against those guys week-in and week-out, so we’ve just got to find it. We’ve got to find that little bit of performance. It’s not a lot, but it’s just enough to keep us out of Victory Lane."

Kurt Busch, Aric Almirola, pole winner Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott and Joey Logano completed the top 10.

After the race, Harvick’s 6-year-old son Keelan ran across the track to collect the checkered flag.

"Keelan is saving me some work," Harvick quipped. "Usually, when I get home, the next day we have to mock up a Victory Lane celebration. For him to be here and able to do that and be a part of NASCAR and bring your son to work and do all the things that we get to do with our kids, I have had him with me by myself the last three weeks and we have had a ball.

"I couldn’t be happier to be a dad and be a part of NASCAR where they let your family come to the race track and be a part of it."

In the regular-season series standings, Kyle Busch maintained a 62-point lead over Harvick… Dillon scored his first top five since winning the season-opening Daytona 500.


Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Race - Consumers Energy 400
Michigan International Speedway
Brooklyn, Michigan
Sunday, August 12, 2018
 
               1. (3) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 200.
               2. (18) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 200.
               3. (2) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 200.
               4. (5) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 200.
               5. (8) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 200.
               6. (12) Kurt Busch, Ford, 200.
               7. (11) Aric Almirola, Ford, 200.
               8. (1) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 200.
               9. (21) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 200.
               10. (9) Joey Logano, Ford, 200.
               11. (40) Daniel Suarez, Toyota, 200.
               12. (16) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 200.
               13. (4) Erik Jones, Toyota, 200.
               14. (7) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 200.
               15. (6) Ryan Newman, Chevrolet, 200.
               16. (14) Paul Menard, Ford, 200.
               17. (17) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 200.
               18. (13) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ford, 200.
               19. (10) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 200.
               20. (23) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 200.
               21. (15) Jamie McMurray, Chevrolet, 200.
               22. (25) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 199.
               23. (22) Bubba Wallace #, Chevrolet, 199.
               24. (30) Matt DiBenedetto, Ford, 199.
               25. (29) Michael McDowell, Ford, 199.
               26. (28) Kasey Kahne, Chevrolet, 199.
               27. (24) David Ragan, Ford, 199.
               28. (19) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 198.
               29. (31) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 197.
               30. (39) Blake Jones, Toyota, 194.
               31. (33) BJ McLeod(i), Ford, 194.
               32. (36) * Garrett Smithley(i), Chevrolet, 193.
               33. (34) * Gray Gaulding, Chevrolet, 191.
               34. (26) Trevor Bayne, Ford, Engine, 189.
               35. (35) Ross Chastain(i), Chevrolet, Axle, 187.
               36. (20) William Byron #, Chevrolet, 187.
               37. (37) * Timmy Hill(i), Chevrolet, Electrical, 138.
               38. (27) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, Accident, 131.
               39. (38) * Jeffrey Earnhardt, Toyota, Engine, 102.
               40. (32) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, Engine, 37.
 
Average Speed of Race Winner:  140.474 mph.
Time of Race:  02 Hrs, 50 Mins, 51 Secs. Margin of Victory:  3.233 Seconds.
Caution Flags:  8 for 37 laps.
Lead Changes:  15 among 9 drivers.
Lap Leaders:   D. Hamlin 1-13; K. Harvick 14; Kyle Busch 15-26; K. Harvick 27; Kyle Busch 28-29; K. Harvick 30-63; J. Johnson 64-67; Kyle Busch 68-75; J. Johnson 76-84; M. Truex Jr. 85-109; K. Harvick 110-170; A. Dillon 171-175; J. Logano 176; R. Newman 177-188; J. McMurray 189; K. Harvick 190-200.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  K. Harvick 5 times for 108 laps; M. Truex Jr. 1 time for 25 laps; Kyle Busch 3 times for 22 laps; D. Hamlin 1 time for 13 laps; J. Johnson 2 times for 13 laps; R. Newman 1 time for 12 laps; A. Dillon 1 time for 5 laps; J. McMurray 1 time for 1 lap; J. Logano 1 time for 1 lap.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 4,18,12,41,78,11,10,31,2,88
Stage #2 Top Ten: 4,18,12,41,3,22,14,10,2,42