The NASCAR Cup Series visits Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend for the third race of the 2021 playoffs and the final race in the Round of 16.
One of the most anticipated events of the season, the Bass Pro Shops Night Race will serve as a playoff elimination race with four drivers being ousted from championship contention. Kevin Harvick won the race last year after holding off Kyle Busch in the final run.
Bristol is the most important race of the season to this point for playoff drivers. Only three of the 12 spots in the next round are locked up, meaning there are nine spots on the line this weekend. The 22 drivers outside the playoff picture are solely focused on scoring an upset victory at the World’s Fastest Half-Mile.
Here’s everything you need to know for Bristol:
What is the Bristol Night Race schedule?
The race weekend at Bristol will not feature practice or qualifying sessions, as the sport attempts to cut costs for teams in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol will go green at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Sept. 18.
What channel is the Bristol race on?
The race at Bristol is on NBCSN starting at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Sept. 18.
Pre-race coverage starts with NASCAR America at 6:30 p.m. ET and NASCAR Countdown to Green at 7 p.m. ET, both on NBCSN. All coverage before, during and after the race can be streamed online here or in the NBC Sports App.
Bristol Night Race starting lineup
The starting lineup for the Bass Pro Shops Night Race was set using NASCAR’s qualifying metric, which is a formula combining each driver’s finish last week, each driver’s fastest lap last week and each driver’s points position. Here is the full starting lineup for Bristol:
- Martin Truex Jr.
- Denny Hamlin
- Joey Logano
- Chase Elliott
- Kyle Larson
- Christopher Bell
- Ryan Blaney
- Kevin Harvick
- Kyle Busch
- Brad Keselowski
- Alex Bowman
- Aric Almirola
- Tyler Reddick
- William Byron
- Kurt Busch
- Michael McDowell
- Ross Chastain
- Austin Dillon
- Matt DiBenedetto
- Chase Briscoe
- Daniel Suarez
- Erik Jones
- Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
- Ryan Newman
- Chris Buescher
- Cole Custer
- Ryan Preece
- Bubba Wallace
- Justin Haley
- Anthony Alfredo
- Corey LaJoie
- BJ McLeod
- Josh Bilicki
- Quin Houff
- JJ Yeley
- Garrett Smithley
- James Davison
- David Starr
NASCAR playoff standings entering Bristol
Bristol marks the third and final race in the Round of 16, as four drivers will be eliminated from championship contention on Saturday night. Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. have already clinched spots in the Round of 12 by virtue of their wins at Darlington and Richmond, respectively. Kyle Larson has also locked up a spot due to his points cushion over the 13th-place driver. That leaves 13 playoff drivers fighting for nine spots available in the Round of 12. Here’s how they stack up entering Bristol:
- Kyle Larson (clinched)
- Denny Hamlin (clinched)
- Martin Truex Jr. (clinched)
- Joey Logano (40 points ahead of 13th)
- Ryan Blaney (28 points ahead of 13th)
- Kevin Harvick (25 points ahead of 13th)
- Chase Elliott (19 points ahead of 13th)
- Christopher Bell (17 points ahead of 13th)
- Brad Keselowski (13 points ahead of 13th)
- Kyle Busch (eight points ahead of 13th)
- Aric Almirola (three points ahead of 13th)
- Kurt Busch (tied for final spot, holds tiebreaker)
- Alex Bowman (tied for final spot, loses tiebreaker)
- Tyler Reddick (five points behind 12th)
- William Byron (18 points behind 12th)
- Michael McDowell (38 points behind 12th)
Which active drivers have won at Bristol?
Just six of the 38 drivers racing this weekend have won at Bristol: Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Keselowski, Harvick, Logano and Hamlin. All six have won at Bristol multiple times, with Kyle Busch leading all active drivers with eight wins. Kurt Busch (six), Keselowski (three), Harvick (three), Logano (two) and Hamlin (two) will look to add to their win totals this weekend.
Who is favored to win at Bristol?
With the Bristol Night Race being such a marquee event, the stars usually show up on this big stage. The four winningest drivers in Bristol history are all Hall of Famers -- Darrell Waltrip (12 wins), Dale Earnhardt (nine wins), Rusty Wallace (nine wins) and Cale Yarborough (nine wins). Five of the six active winners at Bristol are past champions, and the sixth (Hamlin) is likely a future Hall of Famer, too.
Kyle Busch has dominated at Bristol throughout his career, essentially from the beginning until today. He has 19 top-10s in 31 career Bristol starts, with eight wins spanning from 2007 to 2019. He’s led 2,593 laps at Bristol, including 10 starts with 100 or more laps led. Harvick and Keselowski won the two races at Bristol in 2020 -- this weekend is the only race at the traditional Bristol track this year after the spring race was run on the dirt track.
Longshot winners are highly unlikely at Bristol due to the length of the race (500 laps) and skill level of the established veterans. A driver with 10 or fewer career wins hasn’t won at Bristol since Carl Edwards in 2007, and he went on to win 28 times in his career. No one who ended their career with fewer than 18 wins has won at Bristol since Elliott Sadler (three career wins) in 2001.
Here are some of the odds for Bristol, courtesy of our partner, PointsBet:
- Kyle Busch, +450
- Kyle Larson, +460
- Denny Hamlin, +675
- Chase Elliott, +850
- Joey Logano, +1000
- Brad Keselowski, +1200
- Kevin Harvick, +1200
- Ryan Blaney, +1400
- Martin Truex Jr., +1600
- Kurt Busch, +2000
- William Byron, +2500
- Christopher Bell, +2500
- Alex Bowman, +2800
- Ross Chastain, +4000
- Tyler Reddick +5000
- Aric Almirola, +5000
- Austin Dillon, +6000
- Matt DiBenedetto, +7000
- Bubba Wallace, +12500
- Daniel Suarez, +25000
- Erik Jones, +35000
- Michael McDowell, +50000
What is the weather for Bristol?
The Weather Channel is expecting a nice weekend in Bristol, Tenn., with a slight risk of rain. A high of 85 degrees, mostly sunny skies and a 15% chance of rain are forecasted for Saturday afternoon, with a slight chance of a rain shower. Saturday night is looking similar for race time -- overcast skies, a high of 64 and a 24% chance of rain.
How to buy tickets for Bristol
Tickets for the Cup Series race at Bristol are available on the track’s website right here. Information about parking, camping, scanner rentals, pre-race pit passes and tickets for other races this weekend are also available on the track’s website.
Editor's note: All odds are provided by our partner, PointsBet. PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links.