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Statistically Speaking

Bass Pro Shops Nite Race Stats

by Dan Beaver
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:04 pm ET

This week’s race: Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race
Traditional Name: Volunteer 500
Other Notable Names: Irwin Tools Night Race, Sharpie 500, Goody's 500, Bud 500, Busch 500

All short track races pay homage to drivers’ roots—but there is something completely special about The Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

A short track shootout under the lights on a Saturday night are how all of the drivers and most of the fans were brought up. For a while, big money takes a backseat to beating and banging. The lacquered cars glisten. Sparks fly from the under carriage. Drivers put aside thoughts of the points and concentrate on rivalries instead. The only problem is that with four regular season races remaining, there is a lot at stake for all but the winning drivers.

Bristol is a driver’s track. Horsepower matters, but not nearly as much as on the unrestricted, intermediate speedways.

In the past, this has been considered a wild card race because of the capacity for cars to take damage, but with the current body style, NASCAR’s stockers can withstand a lot of abuse. The downside of that from a fantasy perspective is that one’s roster is not safe until the checkered flag waves.

10 best drivers at Bristol

Over the past six races, these drivers have the best average finish on this track.

1. Tony Stewart
Last six races average finish at Bristol: 9.67 (3 starts)
Career avg. finish: 17.3 in 32 attempts

It does not matter than Stewart has made only three of the last six races. He has missed because of injury and tragedy, but ran well enough in two of the remaining three events (with top-10s) to ascend to the top spot in this week’s ranking. Unfortunately, with a career-average of 17.3 in 32 attempts, this is one of his worst tracks overall.

2. Jeff Gordon
Last six races average finish at Bristol: 10.60 (5 starts)
Career avg. finish: 12.2 in 46 attempts

Gordon is proof of just how fast things change in NASCAR. He has been retired less than a year, but still seems like a fish out of water in the No. 88 given all of the down force changes. With an uncertain future past the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race and disappointing results, he has one last opportunity to make a great last impression.

3. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Last six races average finish at Bristol: 11.17
Career avg. finish: 11.7 in 7 attempts

Stenhouse finished 16th in his first attempt at Bristol in 2013 and he has been solid ever since. He has been running at the end of every race with only one result outside the top 20. That 21st came last fall as the result of crash damage when he lost four laps, so a nice clean outing on Saturday night should result in his being one of this week’s top dark horses.

4. Clint Bowyer
Last six races average finish at Bristol: 11.83
Career avg. finish: 15.0 in 21 attempts

Stewart, Gordon, Stenhouse, and even Ryan Newman in fifth point to a proclivity for dark horses in recent years at Bristol. Bowyer rounds out the top five in terms of three-year average finishes. This is one of the courses where he actually lived up to his billing in the spring. An eighth in the Food City 500 was his ninth consecutive result of 17th or better.

5. Ryan Newman
Last six races average finish at Bristol: 12.33
Career avg. finish: 16.0 in 29 attempts

An average finish of 12.33 is not what we have become accustomed among the top five in three-year averages. It points out just how difficult scoring consistent top-10s is on the concrete, progressively-banked oval that has undergone so many changes in recent years. Newman is the only racer with an active top-10 streak greater than two races on this course; he has a three-race streak.

6. Joey Logano
Last six races average finish at Bristol: 12.83
Career avg. finish: 18.1 in 15 attempts

Logano should be much higher on the list. He has two victories, a fifth, and a 10th in his past six races and has notably been running when the checkers waved every time. He was nearly 60 laps off the pace in spring 2015 following an early-race incident in the rain triggered by his teammate and that is likely the only reason he is not the top-ranked driver this week.

7. Carl Edwards
Last six races average finish at Bristol: 13.17
Career avg. finish: 14.3 in 24 attempts

Like Logano, Edwards also has two wins in the past six races and another two top-10s. Also like Logano, he has one terrible result in that same span. His disappointment came in August 2013 with a blown engine. That will age out of this formula following the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race and Edwards will be a top-five pick next spring. 

8. Paul Menard
Last six races average finish at Bristol: 14.33
Career avg. finish: 18.9 in 19 attempts

What Menard lacks in raw power at Bristol is made up for in consistency. He has only one top-five during his career and that came in his first attempt with Richard Childress Racing. He finished 30th later that fall and has earned two 20-something results in the last nine attempts. All of his other efforts were top-15s, however, and five of them were top-10s.

9. Jimmie Johnson
Last six races average finish at Bristol: 14.67
Career avg. finish: 14.4 in 29 attempts

Johnson’s position on the cusp of the top 10 is partly because of a 36th in the fall 2013 race. If that were removed from his record, he would have an average of about 10th that would place him among the top five. He finished 23rd this spring, however, and since that kicked off such a disappointing string of results, it is easy to leave him in the garage for the remainder of the regular season.

10. Matt Kenseth (tied with Bayne)
Last six races average finish at Bristol: 16.00
Career avg. finish: 13.5 in 33 attempts

Kenseth joins Logano and Edwards as drivers with two wins in the past six Bristol races. These three will be favored to finish in the top five this week and Kenseth could be an ace in the hole. The reason for that is fantasy owners are going to be a little nervous about back-to-back sub-35th-place finishes in his last two starts. His two results before then were one of the victories and a top-three, however.

10. Trevor Bayne (tied with Kenseth)
Last six races average finish at Bristol: 16.00 (3 starts)
Career avg. finish: 20.5 in 4 attempts

Bayne finished fifth in the Food City 500 this spring and led a resurgent charge by Roush-Fenway Racers. Bayne has gone on to be one of the better values on more occasions than teammates Greg Biffle and Stenhouse and deserves attention as one of this week’s top dark horses. 

 

Rank

Driver

Avg. Fin

Attempts

1.

Tony Stewart

9.67

3

2.

Jeff Gordon

10.60

5

3.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

11.17

6

4.

Clint Bowyer

11.83

6

5.

Ryan Newman

12.33

6

6.

Joey Logano

12.83

6

7.

Carl Edwards

13.17

6

8.

Paul Menard

14.33

6

9.

Jimmie Johnson

14.67

6

10.

Matt Kenseth

16.00

6

10.

Trevor Bayne

16.00

3

 

 

 

 

12.

Greg Biffle

16.33

6

13.

Ryan Blaney

16.50

2

14.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

16.67

6

15.

Jamie McMurray

17.17

6

15.

Kurt Busch

17.17

6

17.

Brad Keselowski

17.50

6

18.

Austin Dillon

17.60

5

19.

Kasey Kahne

19.17

6

20.

Matt DiBenedetto

20.00

3

21.

Aric Almirola

20.50

6

21.

Denny Hamlin

20.50

6

23.

Kyle Larson

21.00

5

24.

Kevin Harvick

21.83

6

25.

Danica Patrick

22.33

6

26.

Chris Buescher

23.00

2

27.

AJ Allmendinger

23.60

5

28.

Kyle Busch

24.40

5

29.

Martin Truex Jr.

27.00

6

30.

Casey Mears

28.17

6

31.

Landon Cassill

29.67

6

31.

Michael McDowell

29.67

6

33.

Cole Whitt

30.80

5

34.

David Ragan

31.00

6

35.

Michael Annett

32.20

5

36.

Josh Wise

32.67

6

37.

Reed Sorenson

34.50

4

38.

Jeb Burton

43.50

2

 

 

Chase Elliott

4.00

1

 

Ty Dillon

25.00

1

 

Brian Scott

30.00

1

 

Jeffrey Earnhardt

32.00

1

 

Alex Kennedy

33.00

1

 

Regan Smith

37.00

1

 

Exercise Caution

Most caution flags: 20 (three times), 2003 Sharpie 500, 1997 Food City 500, 1989 Valleydale Meats 500
Fewest caution flags: 0, 1971 Volunteer 500
Average number of caution flags per race: 9.0
In 2016: 7.4

Final Caution, last five races:
April 2016: 492 of 500: 2-car accident in turn 4 (Regan Smith and Danica Patrick)
August 2015: 431 of 500: debris on backstretch
April 2015: 495 of 511 to set up a green-white-checkered finish: 5-car accident on backstretch (Sam Hornish Jr. Carl Edwards, Paul Menard, Kurt Busch, and Justin Allgaier)
August 2014: 432 of 500: debris
March 2014: Lap 500 of 503: caution laps inadvertently tripped.

Most caution laps: 167, 1965 Volunteer 500
Fewest caution laps: 0, 1971 Volunteer 500
Average number of caution laps per race: 63.7
In 2016: 38.0

Leading the way

Most leaders: 16, 1989 Valleydale Meats 500
Fewest leaders: 1, 1973 Southeastern 500
Average number of leaders: 6.7
In 2016: 8.5

Most lead changes: 40, 1991 Valleydale Meats 500
Fewest lead changes: 0, 1973 Southeastern 500
Average number of lead changes: 13.0
In 2016: 16.7

Victory Lane

Last five winners at Bristol (starting position):
April 2016: Carl Edwards (1)
August 2015: Joey Logano (5)
April 2015: Matt Kenseth (1)
August 2014: Joey Logano (5)
March 2014: Carl Edwards (12)

Worst starting position for race winner: 38th, Elliott Sadler 2001 Food City 500

A race at Bristol has been won by the pole sitter 24times and from the front row 37times in 111races.

Recent races won from the pole:
Carl Edwards: 2016 Food City 500
Matt Kenseth: 2015 Food City 500
Carl Edwards: 2008 Sharpie 500
Matt Kenseth: 2005 Sharpie 500
Jeff Gordon: 2002 Sharpie 500
Rusty Wallace: 2000 Goracing.com 500

Active winners at Bristol:
Kurt Busch: 5
Kyle Busch: 5
Jeff Gordon: 5
Matt Kenseth: 4
Carl Edwards: 4
Brad Keselowski: 2
Joey Logano: 2
Dale Earnhardt Jr.: 1
Denny Hamlin: 1
Kevin Harvick: 1
Jimmie Johnson: 1
Kasey Kahne: 1

Top-10 All-time Winners:
Darrell Waltrip: 12
Dale Earnhardt: 9
Rusty Wallace: 9
Cale Yarborough: 9
Kurt Busch: 5
Kyle Busch: 5
Jeff Gordon: 5
David Pearson: 5
Bobby Allison: 4
Matt Kenseth: 4
Carl Edwards: 4

All short tracks (current courses):
Darrell Waltrip: 23
Rusty Wallace: 22
Richard Petty: 18
Dale Earnhardt: 17
Jeff Gordon: 16
Cale Yarborough: 15
Jimmie Johnson: 12
Kyle Busch: 10
Fred Lorenzen: 9
Kurt Busch: 9

First time winners at Bristol:
2002: Kurt Busch, Food City 500
2001: Elliott Sadler, Food City 500
1990: Ernie Irvan, Busch 500
1986: Rusty Wallace, Valleydale 500
1979: Dale Earnhardt Sr., Southeastern 500

Running at the End

The following active drivers have been running at the end of every Bristol race they started:
Paul Menard (18)
Brad Keselowski (13)
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (7)
Austin Dillon (5)
Cole Whitt (4)
Trevor Bayne (4)
Matt DiBenedetto: (3)
Ryan Blaney (2)
Chris Buescher (2)
Jeffrey Earnhardt (1)
Chase Elliott (1)
Brian Scott (1)

Joey Logano blew an engine in 2009, but has been running at the end of his last 14 attempts.
Danica Patrick crashed out of her first Bristol attempt, but has been running at the end of the last seven (five of which were crash-marred)

Great Starts

Active drivers with top-10s in their first start on this track:
Chase Elliott: fourth (2016)
Greg Biffle: fifth (2003)
Jimmie Johnson: seventh (2002)
Kyle Larson: 10th (2014)

Current Streaks

At Bristol
Ryan Newman, three top-10s
Kevin Harvick, two top-10s
Joey Logano, two top-10s
Carl Edwards, two top-10s
Clint Bowyer, two top-10s 

On Short tracks (Bristol, Martinsville, and Richmond)
Carl Edwards, three top-10s (including back-to-back wins)
Kevin Harvick, two top-10s
Joey Logano, two top-10s
Kurt Busch, two top-10s

In 2016
Kyle Busch, four top-10s
Denny Hamlin, four top-10s
Brad Keselowski, two top-fives
Tony Stewart, two top-fives

 

Dan Beaver

Dan Beaver has been covering fantasy NASCAR for more than 20 years with a little help from his >650,000 record database. He can be found on Twitter @FantasyRace.