Congratulations to Brad Keselowski who guaranteed his spot in the second round of the playoffs with his win at Richmond Saturday night. With one race left to go in the first round there is still a good chance that some of the drivers outside the top twelve can move up this week and knock someone out who is currently in.
Right now Ryan Blaney sits in sixteenth place, twenty-seven points and three other drivers below the cutoff. He is going to really have to step it up this week if he wants to advance. Otherwise the drivers in the tenth through twelfth spots are only four points apart and then the thirteenth and fourteenth place drivers are only three and eight points behind the cutoff position. That tells me this is going to be an exciting race all the way through with strategy on getting stage points part of the equation.
BASS PRO SHOPS NIGHT RACE
So, the drivers head back to the Bristol Motor Speedway for another Saturday night race and the running of the Bass Pro Shops Night Race. As I already mentioned, this is the last race in the first round of the playoffs and there are a lot of drivers who have to perform at their best or go home knowing they won’t win a championship this season. We know that you’ll see a lot of bump and run racing, especially with those who are trying to point their way into the second round. It’s going to be a no holds barred type of race this week.
Kyle Busch: I’m going to pick Kyle to win his first race of the season and secure his spot in the second round without having to worry about points. In his last seven starts at Bristol he has lead more laps than any other active driver, and has won three of those races. He also has five top five finishes in his last six starts here. This is where he shows if he has a shot at winning a championship this year.
Ryan Blaney: Even though he is in the last spot in the standings for the playoff drivers right now the good news for him is that he has run very well at Bristol throughout his career. In fact, only Kyle Busch has lead more laps at Bristol in the last seven races out of all active drivers. Ryan very well might have to win this race to advance and I know he is going to do everything and anything to get to the front. The question is, how many drivers is he going to trade paint with to get there?
Clint Bowyer: Currently Clint is in the last spot eligible for the second round and is only three points ahead of the cutoff. Like Blaney, the good news is that Clint has run very well here lately. In his last ten starts Clint has eight top ten finishes including two runner-ups. The last of those runner-up finishes came this spring. He’s going to need another good run to stay in the playoffs.
Kurt Busch: Kurt trails only his brother Kyle in wins at this track with six in his career. He has three top five and five top ten finishes in his last six starts here. That’s good for him seeing he is only seven points above the cutoff position and is another driver who can’t afford to have anything go wrong this week if he aims to advance in the playoffs.
Jimmie Johnson: We talk about him almost every week and wonder if he’ll win a race yet this season. Well, once again he has a shot this weekend. In his last twelve starts at Bristol, Jimmie has one win, six top five finishes and has only finished outside the top twenty once. I’m not sure if this team can put a whole race together and get a win, but he could be in contention towards the end of the race.
Joey Logano: In his last ten starts here, Joey has one win and seven top ten finishes. He has also lead over three-hundred laps in those races. The question is which team and car are going to show up this weekend? Is it one of the cars he has dominated in or a car that he has struggled to get the handling to where it needs to be to compete. I think he is just going to try to point his way into the second round and stay out of trouble unless he has one of those dominating cars.
Brad Keselowski: Last week’s winner can relax a little bit this week, but he would like to pick up another win and get some more playoff points. He won here in May and finished third last August which is good for his confidence. The other part of that equation is that in the seven prior races to those finishes he never finished in the top fifteen.
Matt Kenseth: With four wins and fifteen top five finishes in thirty-seven career starts, Matt is my dark horse this week. He finished sixteenth in the spring race and I think he can improve on that this weekend. I think he is a little disappointed that he hasn’t run better this season, but remember, he almost won at Indy earlier this year so we know he can still win races.
Kevin Harvick: Kevin has two career wins and has finished in the top ten in seven of his last ten starts at Bristol. Seeing he is already in the next round I think he will be relaxed and he’ll run a clean race. I think he’ll continue to try and pass those who are ahead of him no matter if they are in the playoffs or not, but he won’t wreck them unless he is really a lot faster than they are and they refuse to get out of his way.
Denny Hamlin: Denny is another driver with two wins at this track including the race last August. I think he is solidly into the second round and doesn’t need to do much in this race unless he has a really good car. There really isn’t another track left on the schedule that is similar to Bristol, so I don’t see any of the drivers experimenting this week.
DRIVER GROUP GAME FANTASY NASCAR PICKS FOR BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY
Driver Group Game Group A
- Kyle Busch
- Driver Name
Driver Group Game Group B
- Ryan Blaney
- Clint Bowyer
- Kurt Busch
- Matt Kenseth
Driver Group Game Group C
- Christopher Bell
- Tyler Reddick
MY TOP-5 OVERALL AT BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY
- Kyle Busch
- Ryan Blaney
- Brad Keselowski
- Clint Bowyer
- Kurt Busch
Dark Horse: Matt Kenseth
Stay Away From: Aric Almirola
Big 18: Kyle Busch