Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Bristol NASCAR Cup Series Notes: 2017 Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race

Lots of grip on the lower groove this week with TrackBite applied.
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Next Race: Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race
The Place: Bristol Motor Speedway
The Date: Saturday August 19
The Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBC, 7 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)

NASCAR XFINITY Series
Next Race: Food City 300
The Place: Bristol Motor Speedway
The Date: Friday, August 18
The Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN, 7 p.m. ET
Radio: 9RN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 159.9 miles (300 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 85),
Stage 2 (Ends on lap 170), Final Stage (Ends on lap 300)

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series 
Next Race: UNOH 200
The Place: Bristol Motor Speedway
The Date: Wednesday, August 16
The Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 8 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 106.6 miles (200 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 55),
Stage 2 (Ends on lap 110), Final Stage (Ends on lap 200)

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series

Good Things Coming In Threes
As the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Bristol Motor Speedway for the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race (Saturday, August 19 at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), the number to remember is “three.”

With three races remaining before the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs (Bristol, Darlington, Richmond), the spotlight is on the three drivers who currently hold, based on points, the remaining trio of slots in the post-season – Chase Elliott, Jamie McMurray and Matt Kenseth.

And in keeping with the theme – there are three drivers with previous wins at the Last Great Colosseum who have yet to secure a post-season slot with a playoff-eligible win: Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Joey Logano. 

Lights, Camera … And A Whole Lot Of Action
The spotlights are on Bristol Motor Speedway. In more ways than one.

It’s Bristol at night, baby! Few things in sports match the intensity and spectacle of NASCAR racing beneath the lights at Bristol Motor Speedway. The world’s fastest half mile has produced some of the most intense moments in NASCAR history.

Google “2008 Bristol night race, Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch” for just one example.

And in case you’ve been living under a rock, it’s crunch time for drivers trying to make the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. Win, and you’re in.

And if you don’t win, you better hope there’s a repeat winner in order to keep your hopes alive.

All of those factors together promise to make for a thrilling showdown in Thunder Valley.

Chasing The Return To The Post-Season
Right now, Chase Elliott is the best of the rest when it comes to the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoff grid.

He’s looking to qualify for back-to-back Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series post-season berths as he still pursues his first career win.

The driver of the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet is seventh overall in the Monster Energy Series points standings, a solid 62 points ahead of the first driver on the outside looking in – Clint Bowyer. Elliott holds a 10-point lead over Jamie McMurray and a 31-point advantage over Matt Kenseth.

If Elliott is going to break through for his first career win and the automatic berth in the playoffs, this may be the track where he does it. In just three career starts at Bristol, Elliott has amassed a top-five and two top-10 finishes, as well as an average finish of 8.7 (series-best among active drivers). On the season, he has six top fives and 13 top 10s.

McMaybe In
He’s so close, but so much can happen in three races.

Jamie McMurray, in the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, holds a 52-point cushion over Clint Bowyer on the cutoff line and is in good position to head to the post-season on points if there is a repeat winner at any of the next three races.

However, with 13 different playoff-eligible winners on the board thus far in 2017, McMurray can’t bank on that at Bristol.

McMurray has posted 29 starts at Bristol, tallying three top fives and 11 top 10s in his career. He also holds an average finish of 16.4 at the Last Great Colosseum. So far in 2017, McMurray has just two top fives but has recorded an average finish of 13.6, keeping him in playoff contention.

Ken He Do It?
Kenseth is in the most precarious position of the drivers currently on the playoff grid. The driver of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota currently holds the final playoff spot by virtue of a 31-point advantage over Clint Bowyer.

However, if a new driver wins at Bristol, and he’s not named Chase Elliott or Jamie McMurray, Kenseth drops out of the post-season group picture.

Kenseth has four wins, 14 top fives and 21 top 10s in 35 starts at Bristol. His four wins trail only the Busch brothers among active drivers at Bristol, as Kyle and Kurt have five victories apiece at the track.

Also of note, Kenseth is the only one of the three drivers trying to hold on to a 2017 playoff berth via points who has recorded a win in Thunder Valley.

And a win quiets all the points talk.

Bowyer, Logano Playoff Hopes Lean on Past Bristol Success
The bubble picture looks OK for Clint Bowyer. Not great, but OK. He doesn’t exactly need a win to make the playoffs, but that’s certainly the easiest path.

For Joey Logano, it’s dire. Mathematically speaking, there’s a chance he can still earn a playoff spot on points. There’s also a chance of finding broccoli on a dessert menu.

He needs a win, and there’s pleasant news on that front.

Bowyer and Logano are the first two drivers outside the 16-driver playoff bubble, and both are VERY strong at Bristol. Which is good for them, and potentially bad for the likes of Chase Elliott, Jamie McMurray and Matt Kenseth. A win by either Bowyer or Logano would shove one of those three drivers outside the bubble.

First, Bowyer. Bowyer finished second in the Monster Energy Series’ first trip to Bristol in April. It’s a bit of a deceiving finish, as his average running position of 13.6 would suggest. Still, he’s finished in the top 10 in three of the last four Bristol races (and in the top five in two of those).

Logano boasts a stellar record at Bristol, scoring two wins (including the 2015 Night Race) and top 10s in each of the last four finishes. None of those finishes were flukes, as he led multiple laps in each.

Truex Hones in on Regular Season Championship
In Stage 1 at Michigan, Martin Truex Jr. scored seven stage points. Seven.

For Truex and the No. 78 team, that’s an Aaron-Judge-Post-Home-Run-Derby type slump.

Seriously. Prior to Michigan, here are the Stage 1 point totals of the previous five races: 9, 9, 9, 10, 10. Stage 2 figures look pretty similar. So, yes, seven looks weak in comparison.

Therefore, if anyone’s wondering how Truex’s points lead has ballooned to 129 points over second-place Kyle Larson, that’s why.

That’s also why Truex is quite likely to lock up the regular season championship this weekend at Bristol, two races before the regular season actually ends at Richmond. If Truex leaves Bristol with a 121-point lead over second-place (or a 120-point lead if the second place driver has one win), he is guaranteed to be the points leader following race No. 26 at Richmond.

And that’s extremely important this season. The regular season champion earns 15 playoff points, a major boost towards landing an even bigger title – 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion.

The Making Of A Champion?
Three in a row. 

That’s what Kyle Larson won at Michigan International Speedway when he used a masterful restart in NASCAR Overtime to split the pair of Furniture Row Racing Toyotas and park his No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet in Victory Lane…again.

With the 2017 sweep and the 2016 August win for his first career checkered flag in the Monster Energy Series, Larson is the true Wolverine in the Irish Hills.

Throwing in his win at Auto Club Speedway in March, Larson has three race wins and has also accumulated 18 total playoff points this season – second only to Martin Truex Jr.’s 35 playoff points.

At Bristol, the young Californian has posted three top-10s and an average finish of 19.3 in seven starts.

But the most relevant of his stats in Thunder Valley might be that Larson captured a stage win at Bristol in the spring race – for one of those all-important playoff points.
  
Jones, Suarez Showing Skills Beyond Their Experience
Coming into the 2017 season, the Sunoco Rookie of the Year class earned quite a bit of ink.

Erik Jones and Daniel Suarez received the most attention, with pundits foreshadowing solid seasons with a playoff berth a possibility. They were spot on.

Both, though, need a win to land a spot in the playoff field. And both have been racing with the sense of urgency that comes with that truth.

Jones, specifically, has been on a tear, with three consecutive top-10 finishes, including a career-best finish of third (Michigan).

Bristol holds special memories for Jones. In 2015, Jones logged some laps in the Monster Energy Series Bristol race for an injured Denny Hamlin – his first taste of action at NASCAR’s top level. Since then, Jones has raced at Bristol once, a 17th-place finish in April. Jones won two Bristol races in the NASCAR XFINITY Series.

Suarez stumbled a bit at Michigan, after a late-race wreck with Kasey Kahne ended his day. Prior to that, Suarez had four consecutive top 10s, including a career series-best finish of third (Watkins Glen).

Like Jones, Suarez has only one start at Bristol – an 18th-place finish in April. But in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, Suarez finished in the top five in three of his five starts.

Dale Jr.’s Final Stand At The Last Great Colosseum
Saturday night marks Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s 35th, and final, start at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Junior has finished in the top 10 in nearly half his Bristol starts (16 of 34) and visited Victory Lane at this race in 2004.

Earnhardt also won the NASCAR XFINITY Series race in August of 2004 and is setting himself up to win a pair of swords, as he’s entered in both Friday’s Food City 500 (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) and Saturday’s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race (7:30 p.m. ET on NBC, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Fans will have multiple opportunities to honor the driver of the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet throughout the weekend as Bristol Motor Speedway pays tribute in conjunction with the Jr. Nation Appreci88ion Tour.

·         The Dale Jr. Moments Museum in the Fan Zone will showcase his signature Bristol memories.
  • A select amount of Dale Jr. collector cards highlighting his top six Bristol moments will be handed out at the gates on Saturday, Aug. 19
  • During pre-race, those with seats on the frontstretch will be able to take part in a card stunt saluting the driver of the No. 88 Chevy. All guests will also be encouraged to stand up and salute Junior on Lap 88 to show their #Appreci88ion
  • Junior fans will want to pick up a copy of the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race commemorative program which will feature numerous stories on Dale and a special collector’s cover designed by famed NASCAR artist Sam Bass
  • Earnhardt Jr. will make a special guest appearance at the Mountain Dew display at 4 p.m. in the Fan Zone on Saturday, Aug. 19

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Etc.
Taking on Tennessee: Saturday night’s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race (7:30 p.m. ET on NBC, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) marks the 175th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race in the Volunteer State. Here’s the breakdown by track of the first 174 races:
            Bristol Motor Speedway – 113
            Nashville Speedway – 42
            Smokey Mountain Raceway – 12
            Kingsport Speedway – 3
            Chattanooga International Raceway – 2
            Tennessee-Carolina Speedway – 2

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Clint Bowyer's playoff chances dwindling each week, but he's optimistic

Clint Bowyer is 18/1 to win at Bristol on Saturday night.
KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (Aug. 14, 2017) – Clint Bowyer said coming close to victory in several Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races in 2017 is nice, but it isn’t good enough. He’d like to change that Saturday night at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race. 

With three races remaining in the regular season, Bowyer is in a battle to secure one of the 16 spots in the 10-race Cup Series playoffs. He trails Matt Kenseth by 31 points, Jamie McMurray by 52 points and Chase Elliott by 62 points in the battle for the final three berths in the playoffs. A win would secure a postseason berth, but a good points finish Saturday night would increase the Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) driver’s chances in the playoff race. 

“We’ve come close to victory several times this year,” said Bowyer, who has scored the 10th-most points of any driver this season with three second-place and two third-places finishes. 

“That’s what can be so frustrating. You are only one or two spots away from where you want to be, but there’s a huge difference between first and everything else in this business.” 

Like many drivers, Bowyer feels the Bristol night race on the .533-mile, high-banked oval with lap speeds at 130 mph is one of the highlights of the Cup Series season. Although he won an Xfinity race at Bristol in 2008, a Cup Series victory at Bristol would be near the top of his career accomplishments. He owns seven top-five finishes and 11 top-10s in 23 Bristol races during in his 11 full Cup Series seasons. 

He finished second to Jimmie Johnson on April 24 in a race that saw Bowyer battle back from 21st midway through the race, then restart seventh with 48 laps remaining. He used new tires to slice through the field and drive to within 1.199 seconds of Johnson’s bumper. If he finishes one spot better Saturday night, he promises a victory party unlike any other Bristol fans have witnessed since its first race in 1961. 

“I want to celebrate in front of all those wild and crazy fans,” he said. “There’s no better atmosphere. They’re so close to you that you feel that environment. 

“I’m telling you, during driver intros you’re walking down there and it’s just the feeling that comes over you before you get in that car. It’s just something you don’t feel anywhere else. It’s because of the closeness of the fans to you. They’re all breathing down on you and expecting big things out of you, and you can’t wait to go out there and get in that coliseum and go to battle.” 

Bowyer’s No. 14 Ford Fusion will carry the Rush Truck Centers paint scheme during Saturday night’s race. Hopefully, he’ll restart his recent hot streak that cooled last week with a 23rd-place finish at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. 

In the two races before Michigan, Bowyer finished fifth Aug. 6 at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International and sixth July 30 at Pocono (Pa.) International Raceway. Bowyer replaced three-time champion and SHR co-owner Tony Stewart in the No. 14 car in 2017. He and the Mike Bugarewicz-led crew have enjoyed a great first season, but their view of 2017 will likely depend on how the next three races play out. Unless Bowyer wins during the next three races, it appears his playoff fate will be decided in the final laps of the last regular-season race Sept. 9 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. 

“I’m the hunter, not the hunted,” he said. “So it’s a lot of fun to go into this weekend knowing that you’ve got to go out there and chase that guy down or chase those guys down and, hopefully, pop off a win here and just put it all to bed.” -

CLINT BOWYER, Driver of the No. 14 Rush Truck Center Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing: 

What kind of pressure do you feel to get into the playoffs? 
“There’s always pressure. It doesn’t matter. There’s pressure in the Daytona 500 to go out there and perform and try to win that race. There’s always pressure. It’s no different now. You still focus on the task at hand. You focus on unloading a fast racecar, making good downforce, making good horsepower, knowing it’s gonna take that on this racetrack. And you focus on the adjustments, the balance of your car, so you can go out and qualify well. That enables you to gain those stage points as we go through the race and then work hard to get a finish. It’s the task at hand, week-in and week-out, that you have to focus on. You can’t worry about those points. You have to go out and do your job week-in and week-out and, if you do that, I feel like, with the way we’re running, we can get in two different ways. I think we could win and I think we can point our way in. I think both of those are definite doables right now for us, I guess.” 

Do you take chances? 
“You always have to take chances. That’s the hard thing. When the pressure cooker is turned up and the situation is where it is right now, you can afford to take chances, you need to be able to take those chances to enable you to get those stage points if you’re out – make a gain to try to get them. But there’s also a Catch-22 to every decision there, so you just have to lay it all out, focus on the task at hand, whether that’s a stage win or the second stage or the finish at the end – focus on that and let the rest take care of itself.”

Bristol Betting Preview: 2017 Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race

Johnson's Bristol and Dover wins this season are very correlated.
Despite one of the three co-favorites winning Sunday at Michigan, I think I really enjoyed what I was watching. Different pit sequences and different tire strategies allowed more cars to become equal at the final stages. There was a lot of drama and it took a killer nose dive on the final restart by the third-place driver, Kyle Larson, and fresher tires to get the win.

But I almost got to see Erik Jones (third-place) win for the first time. Ryan Newman finished fourth and his second win of the season would have also been a thrill -- we have to relish moments of old guard drivers still mattering in this series. Trevor Bayne (fifth) and Chris Buescher (sixth) were right there as well and almost raced themselves into the Playoffs. There was a lot going on in those final stages and the allure of the Playoffs for drivers not yet eligible added to the drama. It was fun and this week's Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway should also provide the same type of thrills.

Just three more races remain until NASCAR's version of the Playoffs begin Sept. 17 at Chicagoland and the current playoff bracket is crowded with 13 drivers qualified due to winning a race and another three trying to make it on points. Chase Elliott is currently sitting safe in 14th position, followed by Jamie McMurray and Matt Kenseth. Sitting 31-points out -- outside looking in to the playoffs -- is Clint Bowyer in 17th-place.

So what we're going to see Saturday night at Bristol's high-banked, half-mile layout is a bunch of guys with differing strategies. For Kenseth, he'd love to win for the fifth time in his career there, but making the playoffs is the most important thing for him right now. A win does get him in, but so do points, and he hasn't won all season so it appears easier to manage his points situation than hope for a win despite his car running better lately.

Bowyer might be trying the same thing because he's been consistent lately as well, but it's apparent that his car truly isn't fast enough to win races despite a few runner-ups. He can point race right now because he's not too far behind.

The desperate drivers are in an entirely different category. They have to win or they won't be eligible for the playoffs. Joey Logano is in desperation mode and has to win. Erik Jones ran well enough to win last week at Michigan, and he also needs a win to get in. So does Daniel Suarez, Trevor Bayne and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Bristol Motor Speedway Track Facts: 2017 Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race

Kyle Larson led the most laps in April's race at Bristol. He's a 4/1 co-favorite to win Saturday night. 
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 2017 Top 16 at Bristol Motor Speedway
Rank
Driver
Races
Poles
Wins
Top Fives
Top 10s
DNFs
Average Finish
Driver Rating
 
 
1
Martin Truex Jr
23
0
0
2
3
2
20.3
84.0
 
2
Kyle Larson
7
0
0
0
3
1
19.3
92.8
 
3
Kyle Busch
24
1
5
8
13
4
15.1
99.3
 
4
Kevin Harvick
33
1
2
12
16
3
13.6
96.3
 
5
Brad Keselowski
15
0
2
4
5
0
17.1
89.6
 
6
Denny Hamlin
23
3
1
6
11
2
15.9
90.5
 
7
Chase Elliott
3
0
0
1
2
0
8.7
97.4
 
8
Jamie McMurray
29
0
0
3
11
1
16.4
80.6
 
9
Matt Kenseth
35
2
4
14
21
6
13.9
100.2
 
10
Clint Bowyer
23
0
0
7
11
2
15.1
80.2
 
11
Jimmie Johnson
31
1
2
11
18
1
13.7
93.0
 
12
Ryan Blaney
4
0
0
0
0
0
25.2
73.3
 
13
Joey Logano
17
1
2
4
7
1
16.8
87.7
 
14
Kurt Busch
33
1
5
9
16
3
15.2
91.4
 
15
Ryan Newman
31
3
0
2
16
3
16.3
85.6
 
* – Based on last 25 races at Bristol Motor Speedway (2005 – 2017).

2017 Stage Winners / Drivers with Playoff Points
Track
Stage 1 Winner
Stage 2 Winner
Stage 3 Winner
Race Winner
 
Following Race #23
Daytona
Kyle Busch
Kevin Harvick
N/A
Kurt Busch
 
Drivers
Pts
Atlanta
Kevin Harvick
Kevin Harvick
N/A
Brad Keselowski
 
Martin Truex Jr.
35
Las Vegas
Martin Truex Jr.
Martin Truex Jr.
N/A
Martin Truex Jr.
 
Kyle Larson
18
Phoenix
Joey Logano
Chase Elliott
N/A
Ryan Newman
 
Jimmie Johnson
16
Auto Club
Kyle Larson
Martin Truex Jr.
N/A
Kyle Larson
 
Kyle Busch
14
Martinsville
Martin Truex Jr.
Chase Elliott
N/A
Brad Keselowski
 
Brad Keselowski
14
Texas
Ryan Blaney
Ryan Blaney
N/A
Jimmie Johnson
 
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
10
Bristol
Kyle Larson
Martin Truex Jr.
N/A
Jimmie Johnson
 
Kevin Harvick
8
Richmond
Matt Kenseth
Brad Keselowski
N/A
Joey Logano
 
Ryan Blaney
8
Talladega
Brad Keselowski
Denny Hamlin
N/A
Ricky Stenhouse Jr
 
Denny Hamlin
7
Kansas
Kyle Busch
Ryan Blaney
N/A
Martin Truex Jr.
 
Kurt Busch
5
Charlotte
Kyle Busch
Martin Truex Jr.
Denny Hamlin
Austin Dillon
 
Ryan Newman
5
Dover
Martin Truex Jr.
Martin Truex Jr.
N/A
Jimmie Johnson
 
Kasey Kahne
5
Pocono
Kyle Busch 
Kyle Larson 
N/A 
Ryan Blaney 
 
Austin Dillon
5
Michigan
Martin Truex Jr.
Martin Truex Jr.
N/A
Kyle Larson
 
Chase Elliott
2
Sonoma
Martin Truex Jr.
Jimmie Johnson
N/A
Kevin Harvick
 
Matt Kenseth
2
Daytona
Brad Keselowski
Matt Kenseth
N/A
Ricky Stenhouse Jr
 
Clint Bowyer
1
Kentucky
Martin Truex Jr.
Martin Truex Jr.
N/A
Martin Truex Jr.
 
Joey Logano
1
New Hampshire
Martin Truex Jr.
Kyle Busch
N/A
Denny Hamlin
 
Daniel Suarez
1
Indianapolis
Kyle Busch
Kyle Busch
N/A
Kasey Kahne
   
Pocono
Kyle Busch
Clint Bowyer
N/A
Kyle Busch
   
Watkins Glen
Kyle Busch
Daniel Suarez
N/A
Martin Truex Jr.
   
Michigan
Brad Keselowski
Martin Truex Jr.
N/A
Kyle Larson
   

Bristol Motor Speedway Data
Season Race #: 24 of 36 (08-19-17)
Track Size: 0.533-miles
Banking/Turns 1 & 2: 24-28 degrees
Banking/Turns 3 & 4: 24-28 degrees
Banking/Frontstretch: 4-8 degrees
Banking/Backstretch: 4-8 degrees
Frontstretch Length:  650 feet
Backstretch Length:  650 feet
Race Length: 500 laps / 266.5 miles
Stages 1 & 2 Length: 125 laps (each)
Final Stage Length: 250 laps

Top 10 Active Driver Ratings at Bristol
Matt Kenseth.......................... 100.2
Kyle Busch................................ 99.3
Chase Elliott.............................. 97.4
Kevin Harvick............................ 96.3
Erik Jones................................. 93.4
Jimmie Johnson........................ 93.0
Kyle Larson............................... 92.8
Kurt Busch................................ 91.4
Denny Hamlin............................ 90.5
Brad Keselowski........................ 89.6
Note: Driver Ratings compiled from 2005-2017 races (25 total) among active drivers at Bristol Motor Speedway

Qualifying/Race Data
2016 pole winner:
Carl Edwards, Toyota
131.407 mph, 14.602 secs. 08-19-16

2016 race winner:
Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet
77.968 mph, (3:25:05), 08-20-16

Track qualifying record:
Denny Hamlin, Toyota
131.668 mph, 14.573 secs. 08-19-16
Round 1 of 3

Track race record:
Charlie Glotzbach, Chevrolet
101.074 mph, (2:38:12), 07-11-71
At Bristol Motor Speedway:
History
·       Groundbreaking for Bristol International Speedway, as Bristol Motor Speedway was originally known, took place in 1960. The track was an exact half-mile.
·       First Monster Energy NASCAR Cup race was July 30, 1961; Jack Smith won the event (with relief from Johnny Allen).
·       All of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races have been scheduled for 500 laps, except for both races in 1976 and the second in 1977, which were 400 laps.
·       In the fall of 1969, the track was reshaped and re-measured to .533-miles.
·       The name changed to Bristol International Raceway in 1978.
·       The first night race was held in the fall of 1978.
·       The surface was changed from asphalt to concrete in 1992.
·       The name changed to Bristol Motor Speedway in May 1996.
·       The track was resurfaced between races in 2007, and the turns were ground down in 2012 to eliminate part of the progressive banking.
·       There have been 113 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races at Bristol Motor Speedway since the first race in 1961, two races each season.
Starts
·       445 drivers have competed in at least one Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Bristol; 312 in more than one.
·       NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty leads the series in starts at Bristol with 60.
·       Matt Kenseth leads all active MENCS drivers in starts at BMS with 35 starts, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr.with 34.
·       NASCAR Hall of Famer Fred Lorenzen leads the series in average starting position at Bristol with a 3.250 in 12 starts.
·       Joey Logano leads all active MENCS drivers in average starting position at Bristol with a 7.760 in 17 starts. 
·       Logano (7.760) and Chase Elliott (9.000) are the only two active drivers with an average starting position inside the top 10.
·       Thirty-three drivers have made their first series career start at Bristol Motor Speedway; but only one is currently active in the MENCS - AJ Allmendinger (03/25/2007).  
Poles
·       Fred Lorenzen won the inaugural Coors Light pole at Bristol in the MENCS with a speed of 79.225 mph in a Ford.
·       48 different MENCS drivers have poles at Bristol, led by Mark Martin and Cale Yarborough with nine each.
·       Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman lead all active drivers in Coors Light poles at BMS with three each.
·       12 different drivers have posted consecutive poles at Bristol Motor Speedway; Mark Martin is the only driver of the 10 to win four consecutive poles at Bristol: Fireball Roberts (swept 1962), Fred Lorenzen (swept 1963), Richard Petty (1967-’68), Bobby Allison (swept 1972), Cale Yarborough (swept 1973; swept 1977; swept 1980), Darrell Waltrip (swept 1981), Geoff Bodine (swept 1986), Mark Martin (swept 1995-1996– all four races; and swept 2009); Rusty Wallace (swept 1998), Jeff Gordon (swept 2002) and Denny Hamlin (fall 2013, spring 2014).
·       Youngest Bristol pole winner: Joey Logano (3/21/2010 – 19 years, 9 months, 25 days) – his first MENCS career pole.
·       Oldest Bristol pole winner: Harry Gant (8/27/1994 – 54 years, 7 months, 17 days).
·       Seven different drivers have posted their first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career pole at Bristol. Joey Logano is the only active driver to win his first MENCS pole at Bristol (03/21/2010).
·       Nine different manufacturers have won Coors Light poles at Bristol Motor Speedway in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series; led by Chevrolet (37) and followed by Ford (36), Dodge (8), Toyota (8), Pontiac (7), Buick (4), Plymouth (4), Oldsmobile (3) and Mercury (2).

Wins
·       42 different drivers have won at Bristol, led by Darrell Waltrip (12). Kurt Busch and Kyle Busch each have five wins, the most among active drivers.
·       Jack Smith (with relief from Johnny Allen) won the first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway on July 30, 1961 in a Pontiac.
·       12 drivers have won consecutive MENCS races at Bristol led by Darrell Waltrip with seven consecutive victories from 1981-1984. The other 11 are Fred Lorenzen (1963-1964 sweep), David Pearson (1968 sweep), Bobby Allison (1972 sweep), Cale Yarborough did it twice (1974 sweep and four straight from 1976-1977), Richard Petty (1975 sweep), Dale Earnhardt also did twice (1985 sweep and 1987 sweep), Alan Kulwicki (1992 sweep), Rusty Wallace (2000 sweep), Kurt Busch (2003 sweep and 2004 spring race), Kyle Busch (2009 sweep) and Brad Keselowski (2011 fall-2012 spring).
·       Youngest Bristol winner: Kyle Busch (03/25/2007 – 21 years, 10 months, 23 days).
·       Oldest Bristol winner: Dale Earnhardt (08/28/1999 – 48 years, 3 months, 30 days).
·       Five drivers have posted their first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career win at Bristol Motor Speedway: Dale Earnhardt (04/01/1979), Rusty Wallace (04/06/1986), Ernie Irvan (03/25/1990), Elliott Sadler(03/25/2001) and Kurt Busch (03/24/2002).
·       Junior Johnson leads the series in car owner wins at Bristol with 16. Roger Penske leads the series among active car owners with the most wins at Bristol with 12; followed by Jack Roush and Rick Hendrick with 11 each.
·       The race winner has started from the pole 24 times (21.6%) - the most productive starting position in the field. The last driver to win from the pole was Carl Edwards (Spring, 2016).
·       Six drivers have won from the pole position multiple times: Bobby Allison (1972 twice), Cale Yarborough (1973, 1977 twice, 1980), Darrell Waltrip (1981 twice, 1982), Rusty Wallace (1991, 1993, 1999, 2000), Matt Kenseth (2005, 2015) and Carl Edwards (2008, 2016).
·       37 of the 113 (32.7%) MENCS races at Bristol have been won from the front row: Pole position (24 wins); second-place (13 wins).
·       65 of the 113 (57.5%) MENCS races have been won from a top-five starting position.
·       89 of the 113 (78.7%) MENCS races have been won from a top-10 starting position
·       Six of the 113 (5.3%) MENCS races have been won from a starting position outside the top 20; most recent was Kevin Harvick in 2016 (fall race) – he started 24th. 
·       The deepest in the field that a race winner has started is 38th, by Elliott Sadler in 2001.
·       Ryan Newman leads the series among active drivers with the most Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Bristol without visiting Victory Lane at 31.
·       Eight different manufacturers have won in the MENCS at Bristol; led by Chevrolet with 45 victories; followed by Ford (36), Toyota (8), Dodge (8), Pontiac (8), Buick (4), Plymouth (3) and Oldsmobile (1).

Additional Finishing Position Stats
·       Richard Petty leads the series in runner-up finishes at Bristol with 10; Kevin Harvick leads all active drivers with five; followed by Kyle Busch with three.
·       Darrell Waltrip leads the series in top-three finishes at Bristol with 23 followed Richard Petty with 18. Kevin Harvick leads all active drivers with nine.   
·       Darrell Waltrip and Richard Petty lead the series in top-five finishes at Bristol with 26 each. Matt Kenseth leads all active drivers with 14; followed by Kevin Harvick with 12.
·       Richard Petty leads the series in top-10 finishes at Bristol with 37. Matt Kenseth leads the series among active drivers in top-10 finishes with 21; followed by Jimmie Johnson (18).
·       Paul Menard (20 starts) leads the series in starts with the fewest DNFs (0) at Bristol.

Additional Finishing Position Stats
·       Chase Elliott leads the series among active drivers in average finishing position at Bristol with a 8.7.

Average Finishing Positions at Bristol Motor Speedway
All-Time
 
Last Three Races (2016-17)
Active Drivers
Average Finish
 
Active Drivers
Average Finish
Chase Elliott
8.667
 
Kevin Harvick
3.667
Ricky Stenhouse Jr
10.444
 
Joey Logano
8.333
Dale Earnhardt Jr
13.265
 
Chase Elliott
8.667
Kevin Harvick
13.606
 
Ricky Stenhouse Jr
9.000
Jimmie Johnson
13.742
 
Trevor Bayne
9.333

Track/Event Specific Stats
·       Since the advent of electronic scoring (1993) the closest margin of victory in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at Bristol Motor Speedway is the March 25, 2007 race won by Kyle Busch with a MOV of 0.064 second.
·       Below are the top five closest margins of victory in the MENCS at Bristol:
Rank
Margin of Victory
Winner
Runner-Up
Date
1
0.064
Kyle Busch
Jeff Burton
3/25/2007
2
0.098
Kyle Busch
Mark Martin
8/22/2009
3
0.102
Dale Jarrett
Mark Martin
8/23/1997
4
0.140
Mark Martin
Rusty Wallace
8/28/1993
5
0.160
Rusty Wallace
Mark Martin
8/27/1994
 
0.160
Terry Labonte
Dale Earnhardt
8/26/1995
·       Qualifying has been cancelled due to weather conditions in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at Bristol Motor Speedway three times: 3/26/2006, 3/16/2008 and 8/25/2012. 
·       Two of the 113 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races at Bristol Motor Speedway have been shortened due to weather conditions.
Scheduled No. of Laps
Actual No. of Laps
No. of Fewer Laps
Race Winner
Date
500
342
158
Jeff Gordon
3/31/1996
500
419
81
Darrell Waltrip
8/27/1983

·       There have been five NASCAR Overtime finishes at Bristol:
Scheduled No. of Laps
Actual No. of Laps
NASCAR Overtime Laps
Race Winner
Date
500
511
11
Matt Kenseth
4/19/2015
500
503
3
Carl Edwards
3/16/2014
500
503
3
Kyle Busch
3/22/2009
500
506
6
Jeff Burton
3/16/2008
500
504
4
Kyle Busch
3/25/2007
Female Competitor Stats
·       Two female drivers have made Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Bristol: Janet Guthrie and Danica Patrick.
Driver
Starting Position
Finishing Position
Driver Rating
Date
Danica Patrick
29
36
38.5
4/24/2017
Danica Patrick
29
22
43.3
8/20/2016
Danica Patrick
33
27
45.7
4/17/2016
Danica Patrick
32
27
55.8
8/22/2015
Danica Patrick
26
9
72.6
4/19/2015
Danica Patrick
24
27
45.2
8/23/2014
Danica Patrick
36
18
55.6
3/16/2014
Danica Patrick
22
26
46.2
8/24/2013
Danica Patrick
41
28
41.4
3/17/2013
Danica Patrick
43
29
46.3
8/25/2012
Averages
31.5
24.9
49.1
 
     
Driver
Starting Position
Finishing Position
Date
 
Janet Guthrie
9
6
8/28/1977
 
Janet Guthrie
21
11
4/17/1977
 
Averages
15.0
8.5
  

NASCAR in Tennessee
·       There has been a total of 334 NASCAR national series races among eight tracks in the state of Tennessee.
Track Name
City
MENCS
NXS
NCWTS
Total Races
Bristol Motor Speedway
Bristol
113
70
19
202
Nashville Speedway
Lebanon
42
9
5
56
Nashville Superspeedway
Nashville
0
21
13
34
Memphis Motorsports Park
Memphis
0
11
12
23
Smokey Mountain Raceway
Maryville
12
0
0
12
Kingsport Speedway
Kingsport
3
0
0
3
Chattanooga International Raceway
Chattanooga
2
0
0
2
Tennessee-Carolina Speedway
Newport
2
0
0
2
Totals
 
174
111
49
334

·       The first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race held in Tennessee was at Tennessee-Carolina Speedway on 10/07/1956 and won by Fireball Roberts.
Tennessee Drivers
·       107 drivers in NASCAR national series history have their home state recorded as Tennessee.
·       14 drivers from Tennessee have won at least one race in NASCAR’s three national series.
Rank
Driver
Monster Energy
XFINITY
Camping World
Combined
1
Darrell Waltrip
84
13
0
97
2
Sterling Marlin
10
2
0
12
3
Bobby Hamilton
4
1
10
15
4
Joe Lee Johnson
2
0
0
2
5
Trevor Bayne
1
2
0
3
6
Paul Lewis
1
0
0
1
7
Bobby Hamilton Jr
0
5
0
5
8
Jeff Purvis
0
4
0
4
9
L.D. Ottinger
0
3
0
3
10
Mike Alexander
0
2
0
2
11
Casey Atwood
0
2
0
2
12
Brad Teague
0
1
0
1
13
Chad Chaffin
0
0
2
2
14
John King
0
0
1
1

·       Darrell Waltrip, from Franklin, Tennessee, was inducted into the 2012 class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Waltrip is the only Tennessee native driver to win a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship. 
·       Only two of the 14 drivers from Tennessee have won at least one race in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series at a track located in the state of Tennessee: Darrell Waltrip (Bristol, 12 wins; Nashville, eight wins) and Joe Lee Johnson (Nashville, one win).

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Milestones
Drivers
Has
Needs
Milestones
Kurt Busch
599
1
To become the 26th driver in series history to start 600 or more races
Kyle Busch
449
1
To become the 48th driver in series history to start 450 or more races
Jimmie Johnson
83
1
Tie Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip for fourth on MENCS all-time wins list
Kyle Busch
39
1
Tie Mark Martin (40) for 17th on all-time MENCS wins list
Matt Kenseth
38
1
Tie Tim Flock and Kyle Busch (39) for 18th on all-time MENCS wins list
Kevin Harvick
36
1
Tie Bobby Isaac (37) for 21st on MENCS all-time wins list
Denny Hamlin
30
2
Tie Dale Jarrett (32) for 24th on all-time MENCS wins list
Kurt Busch
29
1
Tie Denny Hamlin (30) for 25th on all-time MENCS wins list
Brad Keselowski
23
2
Tie Joe Weatherly, Jim Paschal (25) for 31st on all-time MENCS wins list
Ryan Newman
51
3
Tie Bill Elliott for eighth on the all-time MENCS poles list
Jimmie Johnson
35
1
Tie Rusty Wallace and Rex White for 17th on all-time MENCS poles list
Jimmie Johnson
46
2
Tie Lee Petty for 11th on all-time MENCS second-place finishes list
Dale Earnhardt Jr
149
1
To become the 24th driver to post 150 or more MENCS top-five finishes
Kevin Harvick
298
2
To become the 20th driver to post 300 or more MENCS top-10 finishes
Ricky Stenhouse Jr
24
1
To post his 25th career MENCS top-10 finish
Jimmie Johnson
18,634
366
To become the ninth driver in series history to lead 19,000 or more laps
Kyle Busch
13,506
494
To become the 10th driver in series history to lead 14,000 or more laps
Matt Kenseth
11,553
447
To become the 15th MENCS driver all-time to lead 12,000 or more laps
Kevin Harvick
10,786
221
To become 17th MENCS driver all-time to lead 11,000 or more laps
Kurt Busch
8,867
133
To become 20th MENCS driver all-time to lead 9,000 or more laps
Denny Hamlin
8,399
601
To become 20th MENCS driver all-time to lead 9,000 or more laps
Dale Earnhardt Jr
8,210
790
To become 20th MENCS driver all-time to lead 9,000 or more laps