RACE PREVIEW

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

Stages end at 100/200/367 Laps

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 four 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 five wins. The most recent winner was Brad Kesolowski in Team Penske Ford. Big advantage to Toyota and JGR. Will anyone else challenge JGR/Toyota? HMS, Stewart Team Penske or someone else? We’ll find out Sunday night September, 1st.

Tuesday August 27, look for our Top 10 drivers on Intermediate tracks.

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TOP FIVE DRIVERS TO WATCH

Bass Pro Shop Night Race from BRISTOL

The #5 pick is a former winner here and the defending champion of this race, #1 Kurt Busch. Kurt has 37 starts, six wins and 12 Top 5’s -32%. Kurt’s last win was this race last year but he was driving a Stewart Haas Ford. This year he is in a Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.  Kurt finished 2nd here in April in a Chevy, so I’m not worried about the new ride. He is the #2 winning-est current driver here at Bristol.

The number #4 driver to watch is a former here and the most recent winner on the circuit, #4 Kevin Harvick. Kevin has 37 starts, two wins and 12 Top 5’s.Kevin last won here in this race three years ago. Kevin is the #4 short track driver and is #4 hottest over the last six weeks.

My #3 pick is my #1 rated short track driver, #11 Denny Hamlin. Denny is also a former winner here, he got a win in this night race in 2012. He has 27 starts, that win and eight Top 5’s. That includes a 5th place finish here earlier in the year. He is the #1 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 #2 driver to watch won here in this race in 2015 and the race the year before, #22 Joey Logano. Joey has 21 starts, two wins and six Top 5’s. The six Top 5’s came in the last 12 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 #2 ranked short track driver.

The number #1 to driver watch is the winning-est current drive here, #18 Kyle Busch. Kyle has eight career wins here. That includes a big when here in April. He has those eight wins in just 28 starts -28% win percentage. He also has won three of the last four races. Kyle is #3 ranked for me on short tracks, #2 hottest and sits #1 in points.      

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

TOP 30 DRIVERS

BASS PRO SHOPS NIGHT RACE-BRISTOL

  1. KYLE BUSCH #18
  2. JOEY LOGANO #22
  3. DENNY HAMLIN #11
  4. KEVIN HARVICK #4
  5. KURT BUSCH #1
  6. KYLE LARSON #42
  7. JIMMIE JOHNSON #48
  8. RYAN BLANEY #12
  9. CHASE ELLIOTT #9
  10. ALEX BOWMAN #88
  11. CLINT BOWYER #14
  12. RYAN NEWMAN #6
  13. ERIK JONES #20
  14. DANIEL SUAREZ #41
  15. WILLIAM BYRON #24
  16. MARTIN TRUEX #19
  17. RICKY STENHOUSE #17
  18. AUSTIN DILLON #3
  19. BRAD KESELOWSKI #2
  20. MATT DIBENEDETTO #95
  21. PAUL MENARD #21
  22. ARIC ALMIROLA #10
  23. DAVID RAGAN #38
  24. TY DILLION#13
  25. CHRIS BUESCHER #37
  26. DARRELL WALLACE #43
  27. DANIEL HEMRIC #8
  28. RYAN PREECE #47
  29. MICHAEL MCDOWELL #34
  30. MATT TIFFT #36

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. JOE GIBBS RACING (LW #1)
  2. TEAM PENSKE (LW #2)
  3. CHIP GANASSI RACING (LW #3)
  4. STEWART HAAS RACING (LW #4)
  5. HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS (LW #5)
  6. ROUSH FENWAY RACING (LW #6)
  7. WOOD BROTHERS RACING (LW #7)
  8. LEAVINE FAMILY RACING (LW #8)
  9. GERMAIN RACING (LW OFF)
  10. JTG RACING (LW #10)

For the seventh week in row we find Joe Gibbs Racing at #1. Not hard to imagine since they had three cars finish in the top six. Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing stay in place this week. Even the big win from #4 Kevin Harvick can’t move Stewart Haas Racing up. Hendrick Motorsports, Roush Fenway Racing, Wood Brothers Racing and Leavine Family Racing all stay in place this week. Germain Racing return to the Top 10 at #9. JTG Daugherty Racing hod steady at #10. Lastly Richard Childress Racing fall out of the Top 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. DENNY HAMLIN #11
  2. JOEY LOGANO #22
  3. KYLE BUSCH #18
  4. KEVIN HARVICK #4
  5. JIMMIE JOHNSON #48
  6. BRAD KESELOWSKI #2
  7. CHASE EILLIOTT #9
  8. MARTIN TRUEX #19
  9. CLINT BOWYER #14
  10. KURT BUSCH #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

BASS PRO SHOP NIGHT RACE

BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY

AUGUST 17th, 7:30 ET on NBCSN

½ MILE, 30 Degrees of Banking

STAGES END LAPS 125/250/500

Nothing gives you more drama than 36 plus 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. 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

My #5 driver has never won here, #19 Martin Truex Jr. Martin has 27 starts here and seven total Top 5 finishes. He finished 3rd here in June and is #1 rated on these lower banked big tracks and he is #3 hottest over the last six weeks.

The #4 driver is a two time former winner here, #11 Denny Hamlin. Denny has 27 starts the two wins and seven Top 5 finishes. He is also #1 hottest over the last six races. He is ranked #7 on tracks like this and he finished 11th here in June.

My #3 choice is a former winner here, #18 Kyle Busch. Kyle took the checkered flag in this race in August of 2011. Kyle has 29 starts, that win, and just seven Top 5’s. Three of his Top 5’s came in his last three straight races. Kyle is also red summer hot, he is the #4 driver over the last six weeks. He is also my #2 rated driver on tracks like this.

My #2 pick is the most recent winner here, #22 Joey Logano.  Joey is no stranger to victory lane in Motown. He has three wins in his 21 starts and six Top 5’s. He is #3 for me on these tracks and #6 hottest over the last six weeks.  

My #1 pick won here in August of 2010 and again in this race last year making him the defending champion of this race, #4 Kevin Harvick. Kevin has those two wins in 37 starts and 12 Top 5’s. 32% of starts were Top 5’s not bad and he is #3 hottest over the last six weeks. With four races to go the #4 is on his game.

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