Here are five drivers to watch as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Bristol Motor Speedway for the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race.
The NASCAR Cup Series is headed to Bristol Motor Speedway for the second and final trip to Thunder Valley this season.
Three of the five drivers from the last edition of who to watch finished inside the top-10 at Michigan International Speedway. Now the focus shifts to Bristol with just three races remaining before the NASCAR playoffs begin.
Will one of the drivers currently outside the NASCAR playoffs win and earn their spot this weekend? Will Kyle Larson win from the pole and earn his first victory of the year? Can Kevin Harvick make it two wins in a row? Can Jimmie Johnson win for the first time this year?
Here are five drivers to keep any eye on this weekend to see how they perform at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Kyle Busch is going for his third straight victory at Bristol Motor Speedway. Busch has seven career wins at Bristol, which makes it easily one of his best tracks on the circuit.
In April, Busch used his bumper to nudge Larson out of the way with less than ten laps to go to win the race.
Busch has led 529 laps in his last four races at Bristol. That’s an entire race worth. Busch will start from third position on Saturday night.
Kyle Larson will aim for his first Bristol victory from the pole position. He’s finished second, ninth, sixth and 24th in his last four races.
Larson has led the second most laps, 472, in the last four races among all drivers. Larson is only one of six drivers who have three top-ten finishes in the last four races.
It’s August and Larson still hasn’t visited victory lane this season. Bristol might be his best opportunity before the playoffs start.
Kevin Harvick has the best average finish, 4.8, in the last four races at Bristol among all drivers.
During that span, Harvick has visited victory lane once, led 142 laps and has finished inside the top-ten in all four races.
Harvick knows not only how to win at Bristol but which drivers to keep an eye on.
“In the end, you’re going to have to beat Kyle Busch,” said Harvick in his pre-race report.
“He’s had the car to beat there for the last several years. If the high line gets going, a guy like Kyle Larson is going to be tough to beat and is looking for his first trip to victory lane. If you see Ricky Stenhouse up there with a few laps to go, he is probably going to take some risks because that is his way into the playoffs. ”
Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Speaking of Ricky Stenhouse Jr., his average finish of 7.2 is third best among drivers who have raced in the last four races at Bristol.
Stenhouse Jr. has shown a unique skillset when it comes to Bristol. Despite not leading a single lap in his career at Bristol, he’s consistently run well and finished up front.
Stenhouse Jr. is one of the six drivers who have finished inside the top-ten in three of the last four races. In addition to that, he’s one of only four drives to finish on the lead lap in the last four races.
Jimmie Johnson finished third at Bristol in April and has an average finish of 5.5 in the last four races at Bristol.
During that timeframe Johnson’s led 81 laps, scored two top-5 and three top-10 finishes. Johnson hasn’t won a race in more than a year but still sits inside the top-16 for the NASCAR playoffs.
Bristol could provide Johnson with his fifth straight finish of 11th or better at “The World’s Fastest Half-Mile.”
Follow Matt on Twitter @mattlovisa.