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NASCAR National Series News & Notes – Bristol Motor Speedway

NASCAR Cup Series
Next Race: Bass Pro Shops Night Race
The Place: Bristol Motor Speedway
The Date: Saturday, September 18
The Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN, 6:30 p.m. ET
Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR (Channel 90)
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, September 17
The Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBCSN, 7 p.m. ET
Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR (Channel 90)
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 presented by Ohio Logistics
The Place: Bristol Motor Speedway
The Date: Thursday, September 16
The Time: 9 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 8:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR (Channel 90)
Distance: 106.6 miles (200 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 55),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 110), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 200)

ARCA Menards Series East
Next Race: Bush’s Beans 200
The Place: Bristol Motor Speedway
The Date: Thursday, September 16
The Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
TV: FS1 / Fox Sports Go
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 106.6 miles (200 Laps)

NASCAR Cup Series

Bristol Motor Speedway sets the stage for the Playoffs’ Round of 16 cutoff

The stage is set, and the anticipation is high for this Saturday’s NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Round of 16 cutoff race, the Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Three Playoff drivers have locked themselves into the Round of 12 by either wins or points in the first two races of the Round of 16 – Denny Hamlin (won at Darlington), Martin Truex Jr. (won at Richmond) and Kyle Larson (clinched on points) – leaving nine spots still up for grabs this weekend.

The 2021 season marks the second time the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff’s third race has been held at Bristol Motor Speedway and just the second Cup postseason event at the 0.533-mile track. Bristol Motor Speedway (2020-2021) is the fifth different track in series history to host the third race of the Playoffs; joining Talladega Superspeedway (2004-2005), Kansas Speedway (2006–2010), Dover International Speedway (2011-2017) and the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course (2018-2019). During the Playoff Era from 2004-2019, Bristol Motor Speedway was scheduled as the 24th race of the regular season.

A total of 13 different drivers have won the third race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, led by Jimmie Johnson (2008, 2013), Greg Biffle (2007, 2010), Tony Stewart (2006, 2009) and Kevin Harvick (2015, 2020) with two victories each.

Three times the third race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs has been won by a non-Playoff driver. In 2005, NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett was 14th in points when he won the Talladega Superspeedway Playoff race. Then in 2006, NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart was ranked 11th in points when he won the Kansas Speedway Playoff race. And finally, Greg Biffle was ranked 14th in points when he won the 2007 Kansas Playoff race.

Third Race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs – Race Winners
Track Playoff Race Winners Date
Bristol Kevin Harvick Sunday, September 19, 2020
Charlotte RC Chase Elliott Sunday, September 29, 2019
Charlotte RC Ryan Blaney Sunday, September 30, 2018
Dover Kyle Busch Sunday, October 1, 2017
Dover Martin Truex Jr Sunday, October 2, 2016
Dover Kevin Harvick Sunday, October 4, 2015
Dover Jeff Gordon Sunday, September 28, 2014
Dover Jimmie Johnson Sunday, September 29, 2013
Dover Brad Keselowski Sunday, September 30, 2012
Dover Kurt Busch Sunday, October 2, 2011
Kansas Greg Biffle Sunday, October 3, 2010
Kansas Tony Stewart Sunday, October 4, 2009
Kansas Jimmie Johnson Sunday, September 28, 2008
Kansas Greg Biffle Sunday, September 30, 2007
Kansas Tony Stewart Sunday, October 1, 2006
Talladega Dale Jarrett Sunday, October 2, 2005
Talladega Dale Earnhardt Jr Sunday, October 3, 2004

Since the inception of the Playoffs in the NASCAR Cup Series in 2004, three times the winner of the third race of the postseason has gone on to win the title that same year. In 2008, Jimmie Johnson won the third race of the Playoffs at Kansas Speedway and went on to win his third consecutive title. It was his first of three Playoff wins that season (Kansas, Martinsville-2, Phoenix-2). In 2012, Brad Keselowski won the third race of the Playoffs at Dover International Speedway and went on to win his first series title. It was Keselowski’s lone win during the 2012 Playoffs. Then in 2013, Jimmie Johnson won the third race of the Playoffs at Dover International Speedway and went on to win his sixth series title. It was his first of two Playoff wins that season (Dover-2, Texas-2) for the then Hendrick Motorsports driver.

The worst finish by a driver in the third NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race that went on to win the series title that same season was:

  • At Bristol Motor Speedway (2020): Last season, Chase Elliott finished seventh at Bristol Motor Speedway – the third race of the Playoffs – and went on to win the title later that season.
  • At the Charlotte Road Course (2018-2019): In 2019, Kyle Busch finished 37th at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course – the third race of the Playoffs – and went on to win the title later that season.
  • At Dover (2011-2017): In 2011, Tony Stewart finished 25th at Dover International Speedway – the third race of the Playoffs – and went on to win the title later that season.
  • At Kansas (2006-2010): In 2006, Jimmie Johnson finished 14th at Kansas Speedway – the third race of the Playoffs – and went on to win the title later that season.
  • At Talladega (2004-2005): In 2004, Kurt Busch finished fifth at Talladega Superspeedway – the third race of the Playoffs – and went on to win the title later that season.

In total Bristol Motor Speedway has hosted 120 NASCAR Cup Series races dating back to the inaugural event on July 30, 1961 – the race was won by Jack Smith (with relief from Johnny Allen) driving a Pontiac. The 120 NASCAR Cup Series races at Bristol have produced 51 different pole winners and 42 different race winners.

NASCAR Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip leads the series in wins at Bristol Motor Speedway with 12 victories; including eight straight (1978, 1979, 1981 sweep, 1982 sweep, 1983 sweep, 1984, 1986, 1989, 1992).  Six former Cup Bristol winners are entered this weekend, led by Kyle Busch with eight victories (Spring 2007, 2009 sweep, Fall 2010, Spring 2011, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019). Kevin Harvick is the most recent winner at the track taking the checkered in this event last season.

Active Bristol Winners Wins Seasons
Kyle Busch 8 2019, ’18, ’17, ’11, ’10, ’09 sweep, ’07
Kurt Busch 6 2018, ’06, ’04, ’03 sweep, ’02
Brad Keselowski 3 2020, ’12, ’11
Kevin Harvick 3 2020, ’16, ’05
Denny Hamlin 2 2019, ’12
Joey Logano 2 2015, ’14

Clinch Scenarios: Last chance to make the Playoffs’ Round of 12

This weekend’s Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway will bring the first round of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs to a close and four drivers will be eliminated from the postseason. With three drivers locked-in and moving on, that leaves nine spots still up for grabs this weekend.

Already Clinched

The following three drivers have clinched a spot in the 12-driver Playoff field of the next round: Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr.

Can Clinch Via Points

If there is a repeat winner or a win by a driver who cannot advance to the next round, the following drivers could clinch by being ahead of the 11th winless driver in the standings. The same point requirements listed below would hold true if a new win comes from among Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney, Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliott, Christopher Bell, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch or Aric Almirola.

  • Joey Logano: Would clinch with 14 points.
  • Ryan Blaney: Would clinch with 26 points.
  • Kevin Harvick: Would clinch with 29 points.
  • Chase Elliott: Would clinch with 35 points.
  • Christopher Bell: Would clinch with 36 points, 37 points if Aric Almirola wins.
  • Brad Keselowski: Would clinch with 41 points.
  • Kyle Busch: Would clinch with 46 points.
  • Aric Almirola: Would clinch with 51 points.
  • Kurt Busch: Would clinch with 54 points.
  • Alex Bowman: Would clinch with 54 points.
  • Tyler Reddick, William Byron and Michael McDowell: Could only clinch with help this weekend.

The following drivers could clinch on points with a win by Kurt Busch, Alex Bowman, Tyler Reddick, William Byron or Michael McDowell:

  • Joey Logano: Would clinch with 16 points.
  • Ryan Blaney: Would clinch with 28 points.
  • Kevin Harvick: Would clinch with 31 points.
  • Chase Elliott: Would clinch with 37 points.
  • Christopher Bell: Would clinch with 38 points, 39 points if Reddick, Byron or McDowell wins.
  • Brad Keselowski: Would clinch with 43 points.
  • Kyle Busch: Would clinch with 48 points.
  • Aric Almirola: Would clinch with 53 points.
  • Kurt Busch: Would clinch with 55 points.
  • Alex Bowman: Would clinch with 55 points.
  • Tyler Reddick, William Byron and Michael McDowell: Could only clinch with help.

Can Clinch Via Win

The following drivers would clinch on their win alone: Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney, Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliott, Christopher Bell, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Aric Almirola, Kurt Busch, Alex Bowman, Tyler Reddick, William Byron, Michael McDowell.

NASCAR Cup Series Driver Playoff Outlook Following Race No. 28
Rank Driver Points Race Wins Stage Wins Playoff Pts Pts From Cutoff
1 Kyle Larson 2,151 5 13 53 Clinched On Points
2 Denny Hamlin 2,127 1 8 23 In On Wins
3 Martin Truex Jr. 2,113 4 5 29 In On Wins
4 Joey Logano 2,093 1 5 13 40
5 Ryan Blaney 2,081 3 4 24 28
6 Kevin Harvick 2,078 0 0 2 25
7 Chase Elliott 2,072 2 3 21 19
8 Christopher Bell 2,070 1 0 5 17
9 Brad Keselowski 2,066 1 2 8 13
10 Kyle Busch 2,061 2 5 22 8
11 Aric Almirola 2,056 1 0 5 3
12 Kurt Busch 2,053 1 3 8 0
13 Alex Bowman 2,053 3 0 15 0
14 Tyler Reddick 2,048 0 3 3 -5
15 William Byron 2,035 1 3 14 -18
16 Michael McDowell 2,015 1 0 5 -38

Can’t Eliminate This: Previous drivers that have raced their way into the Round of 12

Since the introduction of the ‘elimination style’ format of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs in 2014, several drivers have raced their way into the Round of 12 in the third and final cutoff race of the Round of 16.

2014: Heading to the Dover (third race of the Playoffs) in 2014, Denny Hamlin was ranked 13th in the Playoff standings and six points back from the Round of 12 cutoff. Hamlin finished 12th at Dover and advanced on points, knocking AJ Allmendinger (23rd-place finish at Dover) out of the Playoffs.

2015: Heading to the Dover (third race of the Playoffs) in 2015, Kevin Harvick was ranked 15th in the Playoff standings, 23 points back from the Round of 12 cutoff and Kyle Busch was ranked 13th in the Playoff standings just one point behind the Round of 12 cutoff. Kevin Harvick won the race at Dover and automatically advanced to the next round. Kyle Busch finished second at Dover and advanced on points to the Round of 12 knocking Jamie McMurray (fourth-place finish at Dover) and Jimmie Johnson (41st-place finish due to mechanical issues at Dover) out of the Playoffs.

2016: Heading to the Dover (third race of the Playoffs) in 2016, Austin Dillon was ranked 13th in the Playoff standings just five points back from the Round of 12 cutoff. Dillon finished eighth at Dover and advanced on points knocking Kyle Larson (25th-place finish at Dover) out of the Playoffs.

2017: The four drivers below the Round of 12 cutline heading into the third race of the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs at Dover International Speedway – Ryan Newman, Austin Dillon, Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch – all failed to advance to the Round of 12 and were eliminated from the Playoffs following the Dover race.

2018: Heading to the Charlotte ROVAL (third race of the Playoffs) in 2018, Clint Bowyer was ranked 13th in the Playoff standings and four points back from the Round of 12 cutoff. Bowyer finished third at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course and advanced on points knocking Austin Dillon (39th-place finish at the Charlotte ROVAL due to an incident) out of the Playoffs.

2019: Heading to the Charlotte ROVAL (third race of the Playoffs) in 2019, Clint Bowyer was ranked 14th in the Playoff standings, four points back from the Round of 12 cutoff and Alex Bowman was ranked 13th in the Playoff standings just two points behind the Round of 12 cutoff. Bowyer finished fourth and Alex Bowman finished second at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course. Both drivers advanced on points to the Round of 12 knocking Kyle Larson (13th-place finish at Charlotte) and Aric Almirola (14th-place finish at Charlotte) out of the Playoffs.

2020: The four drivers below the Round of 12 cutline heading into the third race of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs at Bristol Motor Speedway – William Byron (-3), Cole Custer (-8), Matt DiBenedetto (-25) and Ryan Blaney (-27) – all failed to advance to the Round of 12 and were eliminated from the Playoffs following the Bristol race.

Playoff drivers at Thunder Valley

Bristol Motor Speedway, a high-banked, concrete, 0.533-mile short track, is one of the most challenging venues the NASCAR Cup Series competes on. And this weekend the famous short track deemed ‘The Last Great Colosseum’ will hold the final race in the Playoff’s Round of 12. Below is a look at the top 16 Playoff contenders and their career performances at Thunder Valley.

Kyle Larson enters this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway as the Playoffs’ point standings leader with 2,151 points. He has accumulated enough points in the first two races of this round to clinch his spot in the Round of 12. Larson has advanced to the Round of 12 in four out of five attempts; he was eliminated in the Round of 16 back in 2016 in his first postseason appearance. Larson has made 12 series starts at Bristol posting two top fives and seven top 10s.

Denny Hamlin heads to Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend ranked second in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 2, 127 points. Hamlin clinched his spot in the next round with his win at Darlington Raceway to open the Playoffs. He has advanced to the Round of 12 in six of the last seven seasons; he failed to move on to the next round in 2018. Hamlin has made 30 series starts at Bristol posting two wins, nine top fives and 14 top 10s.

Martin Truex Jr. rolls into to Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend ranked third in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 2,113 points. Truex clinched his spot in the next round with his win at Richmond Raceway last weekend; his fourth victory of the season. Truex has advanced to the Round of 12 in his last six consecutive seasons (2015-2020). Truex has made 30 series starts at Bristol posting two top fives and three top 10s.

Joey Logano looks to Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend ranked fourth in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoff standings with 2,093 points – only 40 points ahead of the Round of 12 cutoff. Logano has advanced to the Round of 12 in all six of his attempts in the ‘elimination-style’ Playoffs over the last seven seasons; the lone exception was when Logano failed to make the Playoffs in 2017. Logano has made 24 series starts at Bristol putting up two wins, six top fives and 10 top 10s.

Ryan Blaney enters this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway ranked fifth in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with 2,081 points – just 28 points ahead of the Round of 12 cutline. Blaney has advanced out of the Round 16 in three out of his four attempts over the last four seasons; he failed to make the Round of 12 last year. Blaney has made 11 series starts at Bristol posting one top five and four top 10s.

Kevin Harvick heads to Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend ranked sixth in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with 2,078 points – just 25 points ahead of the Round of 12 cutoff. Harvick has advanced out of the Round of 16 in all seven of his attempts in the postseason since 2014. Harvick has made 40 series starts at Bristol posting three wins, 13 top fives and 20 top 10s.

Chase Elliott goes to Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend ranked seventh in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with 2,072 points – just 19 points ahead of the Round of 12 cutoff. In his five Playoff appearances Elliott has advanced to the Round of 12 in all five of them. Elliott has made 10 series starts at Bristol amassing three top fives and five top 10s. He leads the series among active drivers in average finish at Bristol with a 12.1.

Christopher Bell looks to Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend ranked eighth in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with 2,070 points – a mere 17 points ahead of the Round of 12 cutline. This season is Bell’s first appearance in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. Bell has made two series starts at Bristol posting one top-10 finish.

Brad Keselowski rolls into Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend ranked ninth in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with 2,066 points – only 13 points ahead of the Round of 12 cutoff. Keselowski has advanced out of the Round of 16 in all seven of his attempts in the postseason since 2014. Keselowski has made 22 series starts at Bristol posting three wins, six top fives and seven top 10s.

Kyle Busch heads to Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend ranked 10th in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with 2,061 points – just eight points ahead of the Round of 12 cutoff. Busch has advanced out of the Round of 16 in all seven of his attempts in the postseason since 2014. Busch leads all active drivers in wins at Bristol with eight victories. In 31 starts he has eight wins, 14 top fives and 19 top 10s.

Aric Almirola pulls into Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend ranked 11th in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with 2,056 points – only three points ahead of the Round of 12 cutoff. Almirola has only advanced out of the Round of 16 in two of four postseason appearances; he failed to advance in 2014 and 2019. Almirola has made 23 series starts at Bristol Motor Speedway accumulating two top fives and four top 10s.

Kurt Busch heads to Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend ranked in the 12th and final transfer spot in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs standings tied in points with 13th place Alex Bowman with 2,053 points – Busch currently holds the tie breaker of best finish in the Round of 16 with his sixth-place finish at Darlington compared to Bowman’s best finish of 12th last weekend at Richmond. Busch has advanced out of the Round of 16 in four of his last seven Playoff appearances (2014-2020); he failed to advance in 2014, 2017 and 2019. Busch has made 40 series starts – tied with Kevin Harvick for most among active drivers – posting six wins (second-most among active drivers), 12 top fives and 21 top 10s.

Alex Bowman arrives at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend ranked in the 13th in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs standings – the first spot outside the cutoff – tied in points with 12th place Kurt Busch with 2,053 points – Busch currently holds the tie breaker of best finish in the Round of 16 with his sixth-place finish at Darlington compared to Bowman’s best finish of 12th last weekend at Richmond. Bowman has advanced out of the Round of 16 in all three of his previous appearances in the postseason (2018-2020). Bowman has made 10 series starts at Bristol producing one top five and two top 10s.

Tyler Reddick rolls into Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend ranked 14th in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with 2,048 points – just five points back from the Round of 12 cutline. This is Reddick’s first career appearance in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. Reddick has made to series starts at Bristol posting one top-five finish.

William Byron heads to Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend ranked 15th in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with 2,035 points – 18 points back from the Round of 12 cutoff. Though mathematically possible to point his way into the Round of 12 this weekend, a win would be the best guarantee. In his two Playoff appearances (2019, 2020) Byron has advanced out of the Round of 16 only once; he failed to make it to the Round of 12 last season. Byron has made six series starts at Bristol posting one top-10 finish.

Michael McDowell heads to Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend ranked sixth in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with 2,015 points – just 38 points behind the Round of 12 cutoff. McDowell is in a must-win situation this weekend if he wants to advance to the Round of 12. This is McDowell’s first appearance in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. The 2021 Daytona 500 winner, McDowell, has made 21 series starts at Bristol posting one top-10 finish.

NASCAR Cup Series, Etc.

NASCAR announces 2022 schedule – This week NASCAR has announced the 2022 schedule for the NASCAR Cup Series. Some notable changes include the Clash being moved to the L.A. Coliseum, World Wide Technology Raceway joining the schedule and Homestead-Miami Speedway being moved back into the Playoffs.

Bristol Motor Speedway introduces first series of digital collectables on RaceDayNFT.com – In celebration of its milestone 60th anniversary, Bristol Motor Speedway announced this week they will debut the next generation of NASCAR collectibles with a digital series of NFTs (non-fungible token) to kick off the NASCAR weekend. Bristol Motor Speedway has made available 10,000 FREE Bass Pro Shop Night Race commemorative ticket NFTs, including 500 golden tickets on RaceDayNFT.com, a new fan-focused digital marketplace. Two additional Bristol Motor Speedway themed NFTs will be released on Thursday, followed by a Winner’s Edition auction on Monday, Sept. 20. The Bristol Motor Speedway series will be Speedway Motorsports’ first collection of digital NFTs for fans to claim, buy, trade and resell at  RaceDayNFT.com.

An NFT (non-fungible token) is a unique digital collectible (such as an image or video) that is officially licensed and recorded on the blockchain to demonstrate proof of ownership. Bristol Motor Speedway’s debut collection includes the following:

  • Free NFT: 10,000 commemorative Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race ticket NFTs, including 500 golden ticket NFTs*, available Sept. 13 at 1 p.m. ET for FREE at RaceDayNFT.com. (Limited to one per account.)
  • Limited-Edition NFTs: 500 Bristol Motor Speedway Gladiator Sword NFTs will be available at $20 each, Thursday, Sept. 16 at 1 p.m. ET. (No limits on purchasing.)
  • At The Track NFT: 2,500 BMS guests visiting between Sept. 16 – 18 are eligible to claim The Last Great Colosseum FREE NFT via a QR code. Available on property during race weekend only.
  • Winner’s Edition NFT: Bristol Motor Speedway will make 1 of 2 special-edition minted NFTs available following American’s Night Race. The online auction at RaceDayNFT.com begins Monday, Sept. 20 at noon ET through Thursday, Sept. 23 at 2 p.m. ET. One will be produced for the driver who wins the Bass Pro Shops Night Race during BMS’s 60th Anniversary season and an identical version will be sold at auction.

Country artist Adam Sanders to perform pre-race concert at Bass Pro Shops Night Race – Rising country music star Adam Sanders will perform at Bristol Motor Speedway Saturday, Sept. 18, as the pre-race concert prior to the start of the 7:30 p.m. Bass Pro Shops Night Race. The pre-race concert will start at 5:45 p.m. and Sanders will perform in Bristol Motor Speedway Victory Lane.

“Music here at Bristol Motor Speedway is such a major tradition and we are blessed to be able to have Adam Sanders perform before Saturday night’s green flag in the NASCAR Playoffs,” said Jerry Caldwell, executive vice president and general manager, Bristol Motor Speedway.

Sanders, a Florida native who gained prominence in Nashville first as one of the hottest young song writers on Music Row, recently released his first full-length album titled What If I’m Right.

“It’s crazy to think my career is to a point where I’m able to play Bristol Motor Speedway, these are the things you dream of as a kid,” Sanders said. “I have been a NASCAR fan all of my life and growing up, my favorite driver was Dale Earnhardt, so having the opportunity to perform where he had so many unforgettable memories driving the No. 3, is truly special. It’s Bristol, baby!”

NASCAR Xfinity Series

This Is It: Bristol Motor Speedway closes Xfinity Series regular season

Noah Gragson, who wasn’t even a lock in the Playoffs until two weeks ago when he won at Darlington Raceway, went back-to-back with another win over the weekend at Richmond Raceway.

The win marked the fourth of Gragson’s career and second of the 2021 season and his first at Richmond Raceway. As the series heads to Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend, Gragson has a lot of momentum on his side – especially after Bristol was home to his first win last season.

Justin Haley finished runner-up on Saturday afternoon at Richmond with John Hunter Nemechek finishing third, Justin Allgaier fourth and Riley Herbst fifth.

Friday’s Food City 300 will mark the regular season finale at Bristol Motor Speedway for the Xfinity Series and will kick off the 12-driver postseason beginning at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The race will be at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

AJ Allmendinger and Austin Cindric are fighting down to the final lap for the regular season championship title, which will be determined by the conclusion of Friday night’s race.

There are only three open spots left in the post-season field and those spots are currently occupied by Jeremy Clements, Brandon Jones and Riley Herbst. Michael Annett is the first driver outside of the Playoffs, 66 points behind Herbst. Ryan Sieg is behind Annett, 93 points out of the Playoffs.

The Xfinity Bristol race will be 159.9 miles and 300 laps with Stage 1 ending on Lap 85 and Stage 2 ending on Lap 170. Gragson will lead the field to green on Friday night with his JR Motorsports teammate Allgaier joining him on the front row.

Hindsight: Past Bristol Performances

The NASCAR Xfinity Series returns to Bristol Motor Speedway on Friday night for the Food City 300 (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) for the first time this season.

There have been 77 races in Xfinity Series history at “The Last Great Coliseum” and 50 different race winners. There have also been 49 different pole winners. Erik Jones holds the records for the youngest pole winner (2015) and youngest winner (2016) and Harry Gant holds the record for the oldest pole winner (1994) and oldest race winner (1992).

Only 11 races in history have been won from the pole or first starting position and most recently, it was done by Kyle Busch in 2017.

Elliott Sadler holds the race record from 2012 at 94.74 mph and Kyle Larson holds the qualifying record from 2017 at 127.988 mph.

Last season, there were 36 cars in this race with 10 lead changes and five different winners. There were seven cautions for 45 laps and only 13 cars finished on the lead lap. Twenty-nine cars were running at the finish and the race winner only led 11 laps en route to victory. The margin of victory was 0.651 seconds.

The Xfinity Series competed at Bristol twice last season with Noah Gragson winning the first race in June and Chase Briscoe winning the second in September.

The smallest margin of victory in history was in 2011 at 0.019 seconds and the longest was 8.6 seconds in 1995.

Kyle Busch holds most of the records in the Xfinity Series at Bristol. He has the most poles (6), the most wins (9), the most top fives (17) and the most laps led (2,204). Jeff Green has run the most races at Bristol in Xfinity history with 29. Kevin Harvick holds the record for the most top 10s (24) and most lead lap finishes (26).

Justin Allgaier (2010), Bobby Labonte (1991) and Martin Truex Jr. (2004) all got their first career Xfinity Series victory at Bristol.

Harrison Burton has the highest driver rating (104.9) of any active driver heading to Bristol this weekend in fourth. Allgaier has the next highest (104.5) in sixth.

Battle for Xfinity Series Regular Season Championship ends in Bristol

It’s been a season-long battle between Team Penske’s Austin Cindric and Kaulig Racing’s AJ Allmendinger for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Regular Season Championship title. But it all comes down to this Friday under the lights at Bristol as the regular season comes to an end.

Cindric led the way for a majority of the season but Allmendinger’s winning ways pushed him to the top alongside Cindric. After a rough weekend at Daytona a few weeks ago, Allmendinger took the lead for the first time. The battle is on this weekend for the trophy and currently, Allmendinger would clinch the title with 55 points and Cindric would clinch the title with 59 points. Only one race is left for one of them to lock up the Regular Season Championship and the 15 additional Playoff points that go along with it.

Cindric is looking to make history as the first driver to win back-to-back Regular Season Championship titles. But Allmendinger winning the title would add his name to the list of winners in Xfinity Series history.

Regular Season Champions
Rank Titles Drivers Years
1 1 Austin Cindric 2020
2 1 Tyler Reddick 2019
Justin Allgaier 2018
Elliott Sadler 2017

Allmendinger has only one Xfinity Series start at Bristol, and it came last season. He started 27th and finished 10th in the No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet. Cindric has a bit more experience in a Xfinity car at Bristol with six starts under his belt. He has two top fives, three top 10s and has led 44 laps. Most recently, he finished third in this race in 2020.

Clinch Scenarios: Regular Season Finale, One Chance Left

With just one race remaining in the NASCAR Xfinity Series regular season, three Playoff positions are still up for grabs, as nine drivers have secured their spot in the NASCAR Xfinity Series postseason heading into this weekend’s regular season cutoff race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Already Clinched

The following nine drivers have clinched a spot in the 12-driver postseason field: AJ Allmendinger, Austin Cindric, Justin Allgaier, Daniel Hemric, Harrison Burton, Justin Haley, Noah Gragson, Jeb Burton, Myatt Snider.

Can Clinch Via Points

If there is a repeat winner or a win by a driver who cannot advance to the Playoffs, the following drivers could clinch by being ahead of the sixth winless driver in the standings.  The same point requirements listed below would hold true if a new win comes from among Daniel Hemric, Harrison Burton, Jeremy Clements, Brandon Jones or Riley Herbst.

  • Jeremy Clements: Would clinch regardless of finish
  • Brandon Jones: Would clinch regardless of finish
  • Riley Herbst: Would clinch regardless of finish

If there is a new winner from Ryan Sieg or another winless driver lower in the standings but still eligible to advance to the playoffs, the following drivers could clinch by being ahead of the 5th winless driver in the standings.

  • Jeremy Clements: Would clinch with 47 points.
  • Brandon Jones: Would clinch with 53 points.
  • Riley Herbst: Would clinch with 55 points.

Can Clinch Via Win

The following drivers would clinch on their win alone: Jeremy Clements, Brandon Jones, Riley Herbst, Ryan Sieg, Brandon Brown.

The following drivers could clinch with a win and with help: Josh Williams (41 points), Alex Labbe (42 points), Tommy Joe Martins (43 points).

Can Clinch Regular Season Championship

Additionally, the Regular Season Championship could be clinched by the following drivers:

  • AJ Allmendinger: Would clinch with 55 points
  • Austin Cindric: Would clinch with 59 points

NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs Standings Post-Richmond-2:

Rank Driver Points Starts Race Wins Stage Wins Playoff Pts Pts From Cutoff
1 Austin Cindric 988 25 5 9 34 In On Wins
2 AJ Allmendinger 993 25 3 9 24
3 Justin Allgaier 872 25 2 1 11
4 Noah Gragson 822 25 2 3 13
5 Justin Haley 819 24* 1 5 10
6 Jeb Burton 775 25 1 1 6
7 Myatt Snider 558 25 1 0 5
8 Daniel Hemric 849 25 0 6 6 Clinched on Points
9 Harrison Burton 840 25 0 2 2 Clinched on Points
10 Jeremy Clements 598 25 0 0 0 74
11 Brandon Jones 591 25 0 1 1 67
12 Riley Herbst 590 25 0 0 0 66
13 Michael Annett 524 21* 0 0 0 -66
14 Ryan Sieg 497 25 0 0 0 -93
15 Brandon Brown 481 25 0 0 0 -109

Noah Gragson’s back-to-back wins at Darlington and Richmond pushed him up in the standings to fourth. However, the rest of the Playoffs standings stayed the same heading into the final race of the regular season at Bristol.

Jeremy Clements, Brandon Jones and Riley Herbst are holding onto the final three Playoff transfer spots. Michael Annett is sitting in 13th, the first driver below the cutline, 66 points back. The points gap means that Annett needs to win in order to get into the Playoffs. The same goes for Ryan Sieg and Brandon Brown. It isn’t possible for them to clinch a spot-on points so they would need a victory.

Friday night’s race will mark Annett’s 18th start at Bristol Motor Speedway. He has seven top-10 finishes in those starts. His first start was in 2009 for Germain Racing and he started 21st and finished 20th. As a bubble driver with the only way into the post-season being a win, Annett will be pushing for a better result.

As far as the three drivers currently in the Playoffs, Clements, Jones and Herbst will need a good run under the lights at “The Last Great Coliseum.”

The Food City 300 will be Herbst’s third start at Bristol. He has one top 10 that came in this race last season. He started 20th and finished 10th for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Clements will make his 22nd Xfinity Series start at Bristol on Friday. He has one top five and three top 10s in those starts. Most recently, in 2020, he finished eighth and 11th in the two races run at Bristol.

Lastly, this will be Jones’ 12th Bristol start in the Xfinity Series. He has four top 10s and one top five and has led 136 laps total. Most recently, he finished third and eighth in the two races at the track in 2020.

Manufacturer Standings After Bristol

As we take a look at the Playoffs standings, with another win to their name, Chevrolet holds the lead for the manufacturer’s championship, too.

With the winning ways continuing and Noah Gragson winning in the No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet, the manufacturer’s points lead has grown.

Chevrolet now leads Toyota, 28 points ahead with 922 points. Toyota has 894 points and Ford has 830.

Manufacturers Championship
OEMs Wins Points
Chevrolet 11 922
Toyota 9 894
Ford 5 830

Owner Standings After Bristol

There are 11 spots locked in in the owner Playoff outlook heading into this weekend with the final spot being occupied currently by JR Motorsports with 660 points. They are 62 points above the cutline.

The No. 54 Toyota of Joe Gibbs Racing is holding onto first place in the owner standings with 1,010 points and nine race wins. The No. 54 isn’t eligible for the driver Playoffs as various drivers have piloted the Toyota.

However, they are able to run for the owner championship. Team Penske is in second with Kaulig Racing in third. JR Motorsports occupies both fourth and fifth in the owner standings.

Keeping An Eye On The Rookies
Ty Gibbs and Josh Berry have been the stars of the 2021 NASCAR Xfinity Series Sunoco Rookie class. The two drivers, who have competed part-time in the series, have gone back and forth with the lead since the start of the season.

Currently, up-and-coming driver Ty Gibbs has nine awards and 494 points, holding the lead on Berry in second place with 448 points and six awards. Both Gibbs and Berry competed last weekend at Richmond Raceway but only Gibbs is set to compete this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Gibbs has made 13 starts this season and has three wins, eight top fives, nine top 10s and one pole award.

Berry has run in 18 of 25 races this season and has one win, five top fives and 10 top 10s.

Ryan Vargas is in third in the rookie standings with four awards, Jade Buford is in fourth and Sam Mayer is in fifth. Every driver in the rookie standings has won at least one award throughout the season.

Sunoco Rookie of the Year
Rookies Points Awards
Ty Gibbs 494 9
Josh Berry 448 6
Ryan Vargas 233 4
Jade Buford 216 3
Sam Mayer 152 2

NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc.

Sheldon Creed moving up to Xfinity Series in 2022: The 2020 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Champion, Sheldon Creed, will move up to Xfinity Series competition in 2022. He will join Richard Childress Racing’s Xfinity Series stable fulltime beginning at Daytona International Speedway to kick off the season. Creed, 24, is currently competing for GMS Racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and is in a close battle already for the championship title. Additional details haven’t been announced yet but will be at a later date.

Allgaier returning to JRM in 2022: JR Motorsports and Justin Allgaier announced that the driver of the No. 7 Chevrolet will be back again for his seventh straight season with the team. Allgaier has racked up 13 victories in 190 starts so far in his Xfinity career with JR Motorsports, including two victories this season. Allgaier, 35, heads into this weekend’s regular season finale at Bristol with 11 Playoff points and pushing for more as the Xfinity Series Playoffs kick off at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Allgaier has been a part of the Championship 4 in four out of the last five season and is currently in third in the championship standings. BRANDT will also continue its partnership with Allgaier and the No. 7. It will be the primary partner for Allgaier in 20 events during 2022 and will be places as an associate on the Chevrolet for the remaining races on the schedule.

Ty Dillon back with Our Motorsports at Bristol: Ty Dillon returns to Our Motorsports at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend in the No. 23 with sponsorship from Hometown Lenders. Dillon, coming on back-to-back races filling in for Brett Moffitt in the No. 23, will pilot the Chevrolet in his fifth start for Our Motorsports in 2021. At Darlington, Dillon finished 13th and most recently, he finished 11th at Richmond. Dillon has 10 starts at Bristol in the series and has eight top 10s in those starts.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Sheldon Creed keeps racking up Playoffs wins, going for Round of 10 sweep

GMS Racing’s Sheldon Creed has been unstoppable in this season’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs taking the first two (Gateway and Darlington) of three races in the Round of 10, and now the Californian is looking to become the first driver in the series history to sweep a Playoff round this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway in the UNOH 200 presented by Ohio Logistics on Thursday, Sept. 16 at 9 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).

In 17 starts this season, Creed has produced three wins, eight top fives and nine top 10s. His average finish is 13.1, and he has led 304 laps.

Looking to this weekend, Creed has made two series starts at Bristol Motor Speedway posting one top-10 finish – sixth in his debut at the track. He finished 11th in this event last season.

Expect Creed to have a little extra pep in his step this weekend at Bristol, it was announced this week the 24-year-old will join Richard Childress Racing’s NASCAR Xfinity Series program next season and will compete for the championship on a fulltime basis.

“To drive for a legendary team like Richard Childress Racing and have the support of Richard Childress means everything to me,” said Creed. “So many current NASCAR Cup Series stars got their start in RCR’s NASCAR Xfinity Series program, so it is an honor to be able to add my name to that prestigious list. I am grateful for the opportunity and looking forward to 2022.”

Kyle Busch Motorsport’s John Hunter Nemechek moves to the next round on points

All those regular season wins, and additional Playoff points are starting to pay dividends for John Hunter Nemechek in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs. With his runner-up finish two weeks ago at Darlington Raceway he has already clinched his spot in the Round of 8 on points making this weekend at Bristol a breeze for the Playoff contender.

Nemechek has been the class of the field this season posting five wins (series-most), 10 top fives and 13 top 10s in 17 starts.

This weekend at Bristol look for Nemechek to run upfront again. He has made six series starts at the 0.533-mile track posting three top fives and five top 10s. His average finish at Thunder Valley is an impressive 8.7.

Camping World Truck Clinch Scenarios for Bristol Motor Speedway

Next week at Bristol Motor Speedway the first round of the 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs will come to a close and two of the 10-driver Playoff field will be eliminated. Two drivers have already locked themselves into the Round of 8, leaving just six spots available among the remaining eight drivers.

Already Clinched

The following two drivers have clinched a spot in the eight-driver field of the next round: Sheldon Creed and John Hunter Nemechek.

Can Clinch Via Points

If there is a repeat winner or a win by a driver who cannot advance to the next round, the following drivers could clinch by being ahead of the 8th winless driver in the standings. The same point requirements listed below would hold true if a new win comes from among John Hunter Nemechek, Matt Crafton, Stewart Friesen, Ben Rhodes, Todd Gilliland, Carson Hocevar or Austin Hill.

  • Matt Crafton: Would clinch with 21 points
  • Stewart Friesen: Would clinch with 23 points
  • Ben Rhodes: Would clinch with 41 points
  • Todd Gilliland: Would clinch with 45 points
  • Carson Hocevar: Would clinch with 48 points
  • Austin Hill: Would clinch with 51 points
  • Zane Smith: Could only clinch with help
  • Chandler Smith: Could only clinch with help

If there is a new winner from Zane Smith or another winless driver lower in the standings but still eligible to advance to the next round, the following drivers could clinch by being ahead of the 7th winless driver in the standings.

  • Matt Crafton: Would clinch with 25 points
  • Stewart Friesen: Would clinch with 27 points
  • Ben Rhodes: Would clinch with 45 points
  • Todd Gilliland: Would clinch with 50 points
  • Carson Hocevar: Would clinch with 52 points
  • Austin Hill: Would clinch with 55 points
  • Zane Smith: Could only clinch with help
  • Chandler Smith: Could only clinch with help

Can Clinch Via Win

The following drivers would clinch on their win alone: Matt Crafton, Stewart Friesen, Ben Rhodes, Todd Gilliland, Carson Hocevar, Austin Hill, Zane Smith, Chandler Smith.

Rank Driver Points Race Wins Stage Wins Playoff Pts Pts From Cutoff
1 Sheldon Creed 2,128 3 4 24 In On Wins
2 John H. Nemechek 2,126 5 10 50 Clinched On Pts
3 Matt Crafton 2,094 0 0 4 35
4 Stewart Friesen 2,092 0 0 1 33
5 Ben Rhodes 2,074 2 1 19 15
6 Todd Gilliland 2,070 1 3 15 11
7 Carson Hocevar 2,067 0 0 2 8
8 Austin Hill 2,064 2 1 21 5
9 Zane Smith 2,059 0 3 9 -5
10 Chandler Smith 2,052 0 1 1 -12

Playoff challengers at Bristol Motor Speedway

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series has reached its first elimination race of the Playoffs this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway. Only two drivers have locked themselves into the Round of 8 making the intensity for the other eight drivers vying for the final six spots that much higher.

Sheldon Creed can rest easy this weekend because the Californian has won the first two races of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs at Gateway and Darlington locking himself into the Round of 8. Creed also leads the Playoff standings with 2,128 points. Creed has made two series starts at Bristol posting one top-10 finish and average finish of 8.500.

John Hunter Nemechek, much like Sheldon Creed, heads to Bristol with the wind at his back. Nemechek by virtue of points has clinched his spot in the Round of 8 and heads to the 0.533-mile track ranked second in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoff standings with 2,126 points. Looking to Bristol this weekend, Nemechek has made six series starts posting three top fives and five top 10s. His average finish at the track is 8.667.

Matt Crafton rolls into the Bristol Motor Speedway Thursday night as the highest ranked driver (third) in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs not locked into the Round of 8. Crafton has accumulated 2,094 points and is currently 35 points ahead of the Round of 8 cutline. Three-time series champion, Crafton, has made 18 series starts (most among active drivers) posting four top fives and 12 top 10s. His average finish at Bristol is 10.444.

Stewart Friesen heads to Bristol Motor Speedway ranked fourth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs with 2,092 points – just 33 points back from the Round of 8 cutoff. Friesen has made five starts at Bristol amassing two top-finishes and an average finish of 17.800.

Ben Rhodes arrives at Bristol Motor Speedway this Thursday ranked fifth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs with 2,074 points – only 15 points ahead of the Round of 8 cutline. Rhodes has made six series starts at Bristol producing one top five and four top 10s.

Todd Gilliland pulls into Bristol Motor Speedway this Thursday ranked sixth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs with 2,070 points – only 11 points ahead of the Round of 8 cutoff. Gilliland has made three starts at Bristol posting one top five and two top 10s.

Rookie Carson Hocevar heads to Bristol Motor Speedway this Thursday ranked seventh in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs with 2,067 points – a mere eight points ahead of the Round of 8 cutoff. Hocevar made his series track debut at Bristol last season; he started 20th and finished 17th.

Austin Hill arrives at Bristol Motor Speedway this Thursday ranked eighth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs with 2,064 points – the final transfer spot into the Round of 8. Hill is currently five points ahead of ninth place Zane Smith. Hill has made five starts at Bristol posting one top-10 finish.

Zane Smith rolls into Bristol Motor Speedway this week ranked ninth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs with 2,059 points – just five points back from the Round of 8 cutoff. Smith has made his series debut at Bristol last season; he started sixth and finished 16th.

Rookie Chandler Smith heads to Bristol Motor Speedway this week ranked 10th in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs with 2,052 points – 12 points back from the Round of 8 cutoff. Smith has made two starts at Bristol posting two top fives and an average finish of 3.5.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Etc.

McAnally-Hilgemann Racing looking to expand in 2022 – McAnally-Hilgemann Racing announced this week that the organization will be expanding to a two-truck operation in 2022 and have signed Colby Howard to join the team.

“We’re pleased to have Colby join our team for 2022, as we look to expand our Camping World Truck Series program,” said team co-owner Bill McAnally. “Colby comes from a racing family and brings with him an extensive racing resume. Most recently, he had an impressive run in the truck series race at Darlington last week.”

This season MHR’s No. 19 Toyota driven by Derek Kraus is currently in the ranked 13th in owner points after posting one top five and four top 10s.

“I’m really excited to be joining a team of this caliber,” Howard said. “I feel like it’s a big step in my career. I’m really looking forward to going there next year and working with Bill and all the guys – being competitive and going for wins and a championship.”

—- NASCAR —