Crunching The Numbers: Bristol

It’s that time of year again. The weekend in late August that race fans circle on their calendars every year, the Bristol night race. Bristol Motor Speedway always produces great racing, but once night falls and the lights come on at the half-mile bullring, the intensity and action jumps up tenfold. That is also a big reason why Bristol is called “The Last Great Coliseum”. The Camping World Truck Series kicks off the racing at Bristol with their race on Wednesday night, followed by the Nationwide Series and Sprint Cup Series on Friday and Saturday night, respectively.

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series – Irwin Tools Night Race

With only three races remaining until the Chase for the Sprint Cup begins, the Sprint Cup Series heads into one of the most treacherous races of the season with the points standings extremely tight in the bottom half of the top ten. Only 29 points separate Matt Kenseth in sixth place with Kasey Kahne in 11th place and any kind of issues by those fighting for a Chase spot and the points standings could have another big shakeup after this weekend. On the opposite side of the spectrum, there are a few drivers who could leave Bristol with a locked in spot in the Chase based on points if they are 97 points ahead of 11th and the drivers in second, third, and fourth in the points (Clint Bowyer, Carl Edwards, and Kevin Harvick) are the most likely candidates to accomplish that.

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Driver Races Win Top 5 Top 10 Pole Laps Led Avg. Start Avg. Finish
Kyle Busch 17 5 8 12 1 1431 18.2 9.8
Dale Earnhardt Jr. 27 1 7 13 0 758 21.7 11.6
Brad Keselowski 7 2 3 3 0 409 13.7 12.1
Greg Biffle 21 0 6 11 1 438 13.4 12.1
Jeff Gordon 41 5 16 22 5 2713 6.9 12.4
Kevin Harvick 25 1 9 12 0 427 17.8 12.6
Matt Kenseth 27 2 10 17 1 1007 16.8 12.9
Kurt Busch 25 5 7 14 1 841 19.2 13.4
Mark Martin 46 2 16 23 9 1200 10.3 13.7
Jimmie Johnson 23 1 7 13 1 789 15.7 14.3

Who To Watch: As the only driver to sweep the Sprint Cup Series, Nationwide Series, and Camping World Truck Series races at Bristol in one weekend, it is no surprise that Kyle Busch finds himself at the top of the heap statistically at Bristol. In 17 races, Busch has five wins, eight top fives, 12 top tens, one pole, 1431 laps led, and an average finish of 9.8. Busch is also coming off of a second place finish in the last race at Bristol in March.

Next up is Dale Earnhardt Jr., who has one win, seven top fives, 13 top tens, 758 laps led, and an average finish of 11.6 in 27 races at the track. Earnhardt finished in sixth in the March Bristol race.

Others to keep an eye on during the madness Saturday night include: Brad Keselowski, who has two wins, three top fives, three top tens, 409 laps led, and an average finish of 12.1 in seven starts; Greg Biffle, the only driver in the top ten statistically without a win, but with six top fives, 11 top tens, one pole, 438 laps led, and an average finish of 12.1 in 21 starts; and Jeff Gordon, with five wins, 16 top fives, 22 top tens, five poles, 2713 laps led, and an average finish of 12.4 in 41 starts. 

NASCAR Nationwide Series – Food City 250

Just like the Sprint Cup Series, the Nationwide Series has a close points battle on their hands heading into Bristol this weekend. The top five in Nationwide Series points are only separated by 18 points and with that close of a points race, there is no margin for error for points leader Sam Hornish Jr, and the rest of the top five: Elliott Sadler, Regan Smith, Austin Dillon, and Brian Vickers. Given the history of the action at Bristol, the points standings could be jumbled up again after this weekend.

Driver Races Win Top 5 Top 10 Pole Laps Led Avg. Start Avg. Finish
Kyle Larson 1 0 1 1 0 0 12.0 2.0
Parker Kligerman 3 0 0 3 0 0 23.7 9.0
Austin Dillon 3 0 1 1 0 0 5.0 9.0
Kyle Busch 18 5 11 14 2 1170 9.3 9.4
Sam Hornish Jr 4 0 1 2 0 0 13.8 10.2
Cole Whitt 2 0 0 1 0 0 16.5 11.0
Brad Keselowski 12 1 5 7 2 227 12.1 11.9
Alex Bowman 1 0 0 0 0 0 15.0 14.0
Michael Annett 8 0 0 3 0 1 21.6 14.4
Elliott Sadler 13 2 5 6 1 172 13.1 15.6

Who To Watch: Rookie Kyle Larson has been the talk of the sport with his impressive runs this season, especially at Bristol back in March when Larson and Kyle Busch finished side by side, beating and banging all the way to the line. Busch narrowly beat Larson, but everyone knew that Larson would be a contender week in and week out after battling one of the best for the win.

Parker Kligerman is another young talent who has run well at Bristol. In three starts, Kligerman has three top ten finishes and an average finish 9.3.

Others to watch on Friday night are: Austin Dillon, with one top five, one top ten, and an average finish of 9.0 in three starts; Kyle Busch, with five wins, 11 top fives, 14 top tens, two poles, 1170 laps led, and an average finish of 9.4 in 18 starts; and points leader Sam Hornish Jr., with one top five, two top tens, and an average finish of 10.2 in four starts.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series – UNOH 200

For only the second time this season, the Camping World Truck Series will be racing on a Wednesday night with the other time being at Eldora last month. The Truck Series has always been known for its rough and tumble style of racing and the high banks of Bristol make the Truck Series race at Bristol one of the can’t miss races of the year. The points aren’t really a factor for the Trucks with points leader Matt Crafton leading by a whopping 51 points with 10 races left in the Truck Series schedule.

Driver Races Win Top 5 Top 10 Pole Laps Led Avg. Start Avg. Finish
Joey Coulter 2 0 1 2 0 0 9.0 5.0
Ryan Blaney 1 0 0 1 0 0 5.0 6.0
Justin Lofton 3 0 1 3 0 0 25.3 7.3
Kyle Busch 7 3 4 5 1 343 6.0 8.4
Matt Crafton 10 0 2 5 0 0 18.3 10.8
Ron Hornaday Jr 13 2 4 8 2 388 10.9 11.2
Johnny Sauter 5 0 1 1 0 0 14.8 13.4
Brendan Gaughan 7 0 3 3 0 39 9.9 13.9
James Buescher 4 0 1 2 0 0 14.2 14.2
David Starr 11 0 1 4 0 0 15.8 14.3

Who To Watch: Joey Coulter tops the list statistically at Bristol with one top five, two top tens, and an average finish of 5.0 in two starts at the track.

Rookie Ryan Blaney also has had a good track record at Bristol with a sixth place finish in one start at the track.

Others to watch are: Justin Lofton, with one top five, three top tens, and an average finish of 7.3 in three starts; Kyle Busch, with three wins, four top fives, five top tens, one pole, 343 laps led, and an average finish of 8.4 in seven starts; and points leader Matt Crafton, with two top fives, five top tens, and an average finish of 10.8 in 10 starts.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.

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