RACE PREVIEW

dar 13

BOJANGLES SOUTHERN 500
DARLINGTON RACEWAY
SEPTEMBER 2nd, 6:00 PM CHARLOTTE TIME NBCSN TV
1.366 MILES, 25 DEGREES of BANKING in TURNS 1 & 2, 23 DEGREES in TURNS 3 & 4.

Here is a track that could have easily gone the way of the North Carolina Motor Speedway (Rockingham) or the North Wilkesboro Speedway; both of which stopped running NASCAR sanctioned races. Once the home of two races a year, it now just hosts one. In 2003 we saw the last Southern 500 on Labor Day weekend. When it went away I thought the days of thunder would be over for this incredible egg-shaped speedway. International Speedway Corp. decided to give this track a chance and kept a race date earlier in the year. Lights were added and we’ve had big crowds even though they added more seats. Why? Better marketing? Lower prices? New amenities? Nope, just great close-up racing under the lights and old school night excitement at the ultimate old school track. It is even better now that we are back on Labor Day weekend. Built in 1950 this track began the Speedway era in NASCAR. Called “the track too tough to tame” it could have also been called “the track with no turn the same” because of disproportionately different east and west turns. Add in a very tight racing groove and pavement that eats tires and you have “the track that is very tough to claim” (victory that is). Most racers find it smarter to race the track than to race the other drivers. There are just two races to go before the Playoffs and a win will get you in, that will just ramp up the nerves. Joe Gibbs Racing has five wins in the last ten years and Hendrick Motorsports has two wins in the last ten years but the Hendrick engine shop has three wins and the Toyota/Joe Gibbs Racing motor shop has six wins. Big advantage to Toyota and JGR. Will anyone else challenge JGR/Toyota? HMS, Stewart Haas Racing (who have won ten races so far this year) or someone else? We’ll find out Sunday night September, 2nd.

Tuesday look for our Top 10 drivers on Intermediate tracks.

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TOP FIVE DRIVERS

 

Bass Pro Shop Night Race from BRISTOL

The #5 pick is my #4 rated short track driver, #48 Jimmie Johnson. Jimmie has 31 starts, two wins and 12 Top 5’s.

Jimmie won here in the spring last year and came back this spring and finished 3rd. But he also sits 16th hottest this week. I think we’ll see him begin get better finishes in the lead up to the playoffs, and there is no better place than one where he has three Top 5’s in his last six stops here.

 

My #4 pick is a former winner here, #11 Denny Hamlin. Denny got a win this night race in 2012. He has 25 starts, that win and seven Top 5’s. He finished 3rd here in last year. He is #3 rated short track driver. His team Joe Gibbs Racing have won ten times in the past ten years, the most of any other team, they know how to get around here.

 

The #3 driver to watch won here in this race in 2015 and the race the year before, #22 Joey Logano. Joey has 19 starts, two wins and four Top 5’s. The four Top 5’s came in the last nine races; he is just getting better here in Thunder Valley. Joey is locked in at this point for the playoffs, so he can take some chances on pit stops to have a shot at the end. He is our #1 ranked short track driver.

 

The number #2 driver is the winning-est current drive here, #18 Kyle Busch. Kyle has seven career wins here. That is more than the other two members of what people are calling “The Big 3”. Kevin Harvick has two wins and Martin Truex has never won here. Kyle rolls into Thunder Valley with 26 starts, seven wins and ten Top 5 finishes, that includes a win in this race last year and a win in the spring. Kyle is #2 hottest over the last six races.

 

 

 

The number #1 driver to watch is the #1 hottest driver over the last six weeks, #4 Kevin Harvick. Kevin has 35 starts, two wins and 12 Top 5’s. His last win came in this race two years ago. In fact three of his last six starts have been Top 5’s, all of his last six were Top 10’s. Kevin is the #2 short track driver and is the winning-est driver of the year so far.

 

 

 

Monday look for our preview of the Bojangles Southern 500 from Darlington.

TOP 30 POWER RANKINGS

 

BASS PRO SHOPS NIGHT RACE-BRISTOL

 

  1. KEVIN HARVICK #4
  2. JOEY LOGANO #22
  3. KYLE BUSCH #18
  4. DENNY HAMLIN #11
  5. JIMMIE JOHNSON #48
  6. KYLE LARSON #42
  7. CLINT BOWYER #14
  8. RYAN NEWMAN #31
  9. CHASE ELLIOTT #24
  10. RICKY STENHOUSE #17
  11. JAMIE MCMURRAY #1
  12. ERIK JONES #20
  13. KURT BUSCH #41
  14. DANIEL SUAREZ #19
  15. MARTIN TRUEX #78
  16. ALEX BOWMAN #88
  17. TREVOR BAYNE #6
  18. AUSTIN DILLON #3
  19. ARIC ALMIROLA #10
  20. BRAD KESELOWSKI #2
  21. PAUL MENARD #27
  22. RYAN BLANEY #21
  23. KASEY KAHNE #95
  24. A. J. ALLMENDINGER #47
  25. WILLIAM BYRON #24
  26. MATT DIBENEDETTO #32
  27. CHRIS BUESCHER #37
  28. DAVID RAGAN #38
  29. DARRELL WALLACE #43
  30. TY DILLION#13

 

 

 

Above the Top 30 drivers for BASS PRO SHOPS Night Race from Bristol Motor Speedway, Friday we’ll break down the Top 5 drivers to watch.

TOP TEN TEAMS

 

TOP 10 TEAMS POST MICHIGAN

 

  1. FURNITURE ROW RACING (LW #1)
  2. STEWART HAAS RACING (LW #2)
  3. JOE GIBBS RACING (LW #3)
  4. TEAM PENSKE (LW #4)
  5. HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS (LW #6)
  6. RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING (LW #8)
  7. CHIP GANASSI RACING (LW #5)
  8. WOOD BROTHERS RACING (LW #7)
  9. JTG RACING (LW #10)
  10. ROUSH FENWAY RACING (LW #9)

 

For the eighth week in row we find Furniture Row Racing at #1. Stewart Haas Racing stay in place as does Joe Gibbs Racing.  Team Penske has a great week but remain at #4. Hendrick Motorsports move up one place to #5.  Richard Childress Racing make the move of the week moving up two places to #6. Chip Ganassi Racing with rumors swerling about the status of one of their drivers drop two places to #7. Wood Brothers Racing slip back a spot to #8. JTG Racing move up to #9. Roush Fenway Racing drop a position to #10.

 

These are the Top 10 Teams, Thursday look for our Top 30 drivers at Bristol Motor Speedway.

TOP TEN DRIVERS by TRACK TYPE

TOP 10: SHORT TRACK

  1. JOEY LOGANO #22
  2. KEVIN HARVICK #4
  3. DENNY HAMLIN #11
  4. JIMMIE JOHNSON #48
  5. KYLE BUSCH #18
  6. BRAD KESELOWSKI #2
  7. RYAN NEWMAN #31
  8. MARTIN TRUEX #78
  9. KYLE LARSON #42
  10. JAMIE McMURRAY #1

Top 10 drivers on Short tracks, Thursday look for our Top 30 rankings for Saturday’s BASS PRO SHOPS NRA NIGHT RACE from Bristol Motor Speedway.

RACE PREVIEW

br 16.2

BASS PRO SHOP NRA NIGHT RACE

BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY

AUGUST 18th, 7:30 ET on NBCSN

½ MILE, 30 Degrees of Banking

Nothing gives you more drama than 40 cars on a high banked (30 degrees) short half-mile track.  Add to that the fact that drivers only have three chances left to lock into the Top 16 drivers that will race in the Playoffs and you have all the action you need on a Saturday night. Bristol Motor Speedway is one of the best places on the circuit to watch a race and when you factor in the implications of this race, it IS one of the best race tickets to get, bar none. 150,000+ lucky fans will be gathered this Saturday in Thunder Valley to watch what the track describes as “racing the way it ought’a be.” And they are right! This is racing the way it should be, especially as the regular season winds down. If there are any simmering tensions out there amongst the drivers, and there are, they may well get settled Saturday night. Tensions that do not currently exist may get established here and have to be resolved later in the season. Short track = short tempers. High banks = short tempers + high anger. This is always a fun race and with championship eligibility on the line, it makes an event not to be missed. And to add to the drama, more work has been done to reduce the “progressive banking” that was added when the track was repaved making it more like the old Bristol. Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing have won ten races at Bristol in the last ten years. Fan favorite Kyle Busch notched six of those ten wins including his win here in April and his win in this race last year. That is the most of any team or manufacturer. Will someone else upset dominate Joe Gibbs Racing, will we lock another driver into the Playoffs with a win? Who will dominate and who’ll lock into the Playoffs?  We’ll know Saturday night.

Tuesday look for our Top 10 drivers by track type for week 24 and on Thursday we’ll rank the top 30 drivers.

TOP FIVE DRIVERS

TOP 5 DRIVERS TO WATCH: MICHIGAN INT SPEEDWAY

The #5 driver is a three time former winner here, #42 Kyle Larson. Kyle has just nine starts the three wins and has four Top 5 finishes. He is also the defending Champion of this race. Kyle is ranked #7 on tracks like this and he finished 28th here in June.

My #4 choice is a former winner here, #18 Kyle Busch. Kyle took the checkered flag in this race in August of 2011. Kyle has 25 starts, that win, and just five Top 5’s. One of those Top 5’s came here in June. Kyle is also red summer hot, he is the #1 driver over the last six weeks. He is also my #5 rated driver on tracks like this.

My #3 driver has never won here, #78 Martin Truex. Martin has 25 starts here and six total Top 5 finishes. He finished 2nd here last year and is #2 rated on these lower banked big tracks and he is #3 hottest over the last six weeks.

My #2 pick just got his first Cup so he has never won here, #9 Chase Elliott. Chase has just five starts, no wins but he has three Top 5’s. In fact he has three second place finishes. Three for five, very good! It is a good place for him to keep that momentum going because all five of his races were Top 10’s.   

My #1 pick won here in August of 2010, #4 Kevin Harvick. Kevin has that win in 35 starts and 11 Top 5’s. Not the best stats, but along with that 2010 win he has finished second here in six of the last 11 races including a second place finish here in June. He is also #1 on Downforce tracks and #2 hottest over the last six weeks.

Monday look for our preview of the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race 500 from Bristol Motor Speedway.