Two races down, one to go. The cut off for the opening round of the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs is set to end at the checkered flag being displayed in Saturday nights race at the Bristol (Tenn) Motor Speedway.
Right now, three of the 12 spots to the second round are taken. Kevin Harvick (Darlington) and Brad Keselowski (Richmond) have wins and Denny Hamlin (+64) are in. Joey Logano (+51) is next.
Then, factor in Martin Truex Jr. (+38), Austin Dillon (+36), Chase Elliott (+28) and Alex Bowman (+27) they are also in my opinion good.
That leaves four spots for eight drivers. Kyle Busch (+18) has three Bristol wins in the last six tries and led over 100 laps back in May. He also has five top seven results in his last eight tries on the season as well.
Both Kurt Busch and Aric Almirola are +7 but Busch has six Bristol wins himself, was second and ninth last year and seventh in the spring. Almirola, hasn’t had a Bristol top five since 2014 and has finished 27th or worse in each of his last four Bristol tries.
Clint Bowyer leads William Byron by just three points but Bowyer has eight top 10 finishes in his last 10 Bristol starts including a pair of seventh place runs last year and a runner up in May. Byron, was eighth in May but 16th or worse in his previous four starts. He does have three top five finishes in the last four starts on the season though.
Cole Custer is -8 while Matt DiBenedetto (-25) and Ryan Blaney (-27) need help. DiBenedetto led 93 laps and finished second last year in this race.
Blaney has been feast of famine at Bristol too. He has been fast in leading 100 or more laps in three of his last five starts and 60 more back in May, but has finished 10th or worse in eight of his 10 starts on the high banked Tennessee oval top. He’s scored just one top five at Bristol despite leading so many laps.
To me, the four eliminated now will be Almirola, Custer, DiBenedetto and Blaney.