After the final off weekend of 2016, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to the Tennessee and Virginia state line to the the .553-mile Bristol Motor Speedway for the prestigious and historic Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race. This is the 22nd race of the 2016 season with only four races remaining until the Chase for the Sprint Cup. 40 cars have entered into competition, which means no drivers are going home.
Matt Kenseth leads all active drivers in the box score for Bristol Motor Speedway. Kenseth will be the driver to watch this weekend. He has an average start of 12.1. His average finish at Bristol is 13.7. Kenseth will be on of the drivers to watch this weekend.
Bristol Motor Speedway is a high-speed concrete oval. Drivers will go around the oval within 15 seconds for 500 laps. Between the spring race and now, Bristol Motor Speedway underwent some change. In an effort to make the bottom groove the “preferred” lane, a sticky substance was placed to help add rubber to the track, and a tire machine was run, just like at Kentucky Speedway, to help facilitate grip for drivers to race in.
This will be the 56th annual night race at Bristol. 48 drivers have won a pole with Joey Logano being the youngest at 19 years old and Harry Gant being the oldest at 54 years old. There have been 42 different race winners at Bristol with Kyle Busch being the youngest at 21 years of age, and Dale Earnhardt with the oldest at 48 years of age. 24 races have been won from the pole position with Carl Edwards being the last one to do so back in the spring of 2016. Charlie Glotzback holds the long-standing race record set back in 1971 at a speed of 101.074 mph. In 2015, Denny Hamlin set the qualifying record at 131.407 mph.
Bristol Motor Speedway provides its own challenges, and many drivers are looking forward to returning.
“Every single one of us is going to go as absolutely hard as possible. There’s never a plan to back off or go easy or anything like that, other than if you are saving fuel out there on a strategy at the end of the race. You always go as fast as you can, all the time,” said Danica Patrick.
“I think the most challenging aspect of Bristol is just how difficult it is to transition through from the straightaways to the corners, back to the straightaways and have your car setup in order to do all that. Sometimes you can be really loose getting in or you can be really tight in the middle – you just seem to never be able to get a good-flowing car that works well there. Drivers have to do a lot of manipulation on the race track with their car in order to try to make the best of it,” said Kyle Busch.
“I always look forward to racing at Bristol. Bristol is one of my favorite tracks and it will be extra special this weekend to honor Bryan by running his 2008 Fastenal paint scheme. We’ve had a lot of success at Bristol in the past so hopefully we can be patient and be there at the end. As Bryan would say, hopefully we will “parked it” in victory lane,” said Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will have only two practice sessions on Friday at 10 am and 12:30 pm. The first practice session can be seen on the NBC Sports App, NBCSports.com, and certain CSN markets. The second practice session can be seen on the NBC Sports App and NBCSports.com, but can be seen on tape delayed on USA Network at 1 pm. Qualifying will be at 5:30 pm on USA and Performance Racing Network. The race Saturday night will begin on NBCSN with a pre-race show beginning at 7:30, and Performance Racing Network will have radio coverage at 7 pm eastern.