TRACK: Bristol Motor Speedway (.533 mile oval) DISTANCE: 500 Laps — STAGE 1: 125 Laps, STAGE 2: 125 Laps, FINAL STAGE: 250 Laps, MILES (266.5 Miles)
- Just the 3rd time this race has been run outside of August.
- Race last year was rough and tumble for the final playoff spots
- Starting spot is key when you’re starting on the pole (3 winners in last 7).
- Last 4 Bristol concrete winners have started in the top 5, 6 of the last 7 from the top 10.
- Chevy won last year for just their 3rd win in the last 16 races at Bristol.
- The last 2 years, the race winner finished in the top three of both stages each time.
- This year, the eventual race winner has finished in the top 5 in Stage 1 just twice in the last 9 races with 3 of the last 5 them not even scoring any points.
- Stage 2 has seen the eventual winner score stage points in 11 of the last 13 races run. However, just once in those 10 races did they finish better than 4th though too.
- Each of the last 6 races run on the season did the race winner lead all their laps in the final stage.
- Just once in the last 9 races did the driver who led the most laps win the race in the end (Indy road course).
- 3 of the last 4 Bristol race have went the final green to checkered stretch of at least 82 laps.
- We’ve had 4 different teams win the last 4 races. JGR and Penske won in 2019, SHR in 2020 and HMS in 2021.
- A total of 14 different drivers have won the third race of the Playoffs, led by Jimmie Johnson (2008, 2013), Greg Biffle (2007, 2010), and Tony Stewart (2006, 2009) with two each.
- Three times the third race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs has been won by a non-Playoff driver.
- In 2005, NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett was 14th in points when he won the Talladega Superspeedway Playoff race.
- Then in 2006, NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart was ranked 11th in points when he won the Kansas Speedway Playoff race.
- And finally, Greg Biffle was ranked 14th in points when he won the 2007 Kansas Playoff race.
Since the inception of the Playoffs in 2004, four times the winner of the third race of the postseason has gone on to win the title that same year.
In 2008, Jimmie Johnson won the third race of the Playoffs at Kansas Speedway and went on to win his third consecutive title. It was his first of three Playoff wins that season (Kansas, Martinsville-2, Phoenix-2).
In 2012, Brad Keselowski won the third race of the Playoffs at Dover International Speedway and went on to win his first series title. It was Keselowski’s lone win during the 2012 Playoffs. In 2013, Jimmie Johnson won the third race of the Playoffs at Dover International Speedway and went on to win his sixth series title. It was his first of two Playoff wins that season (Dover-2, Texas-2) for the Hendrick Motorsports driver. Kyle Larson did the same last year.
The worst finish by a driver in the third NASCAR Cup Series Playoff race that went on to win the series title that same season was:
- At the Charlotte Road Course (2018-2019): In 2019, Kyle Busch finished 37th at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course – the third race of the Playoffs – and went on to win the title later that season.
- At Dover (2011-2017): In 2011, Tony Stewart finished 25th at Dover International Speedway – the third race of the Playoffs – and went on to win the title later that season.
- At Kansas (2006-2010): In 2006, Jimmie Johnson finished 14th at Kansas Speedway – the third race of the Playoffs – and went on to win the title later that season.
- At Talladega (2004-2005): In 2004, Kurt Busch finished fifth at Talladega Superspeedway – the third race of the Playoffs – and went on to win the title later that season.
Since the introduction of the ‘elimination style’ format of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs in 2014, several drivers have raced their way into the Round of 12 in the third and final cutoff race of the Round of 16.
2014: Heading to the Dover (third race of the Playoffs) in 2014, Denny Hamlin was ranked 13th in the Playoff standings and six points back from the Round of 12 cutoff. Hamlin finished 12th at Dover and advanced on points, knocking AJ Allmendinger (23rd-place finish at Dover) out of the Playoffs.
2015: Heading to the Dover (third race of the Playoffs) in 2015, Kevin Harvick was ranked 15th in the Playoff standings, 23 points back from the Round of 12 cutoff and Kyle Busch was ranked 13th in the Playoff standings just one point behind the Round of 12 cutoff. Kevin Harvick won the race at Dover and automatically advanced to the next round. Kyle Busch finished second at Dover and advanced on points to the Round of 12 knocking Jamie McMurray (fourth-place finish at Dover) and Jimmie Johnson (41st-place finish due to mechanical issues at Dover) out of the Playoffs.
2016: Heading to the Dover (third race of the Playoffs) in 2016, Austin Dillon was ranked 13th in the Playoff standings just five points back from the Round of 12 cutoff. Dillon finished eighth at Dover and advanced on points knocking Kyle Larson (25th-place finish at Dover) out of the Playoffs.
2017: The four drivers below the Round of 12 cutline heading into the third race of the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs at Dover International Speedway – Ryan Newman, Austin Dillon, Kasey Kahne and Kurt Busch – all failed to advance to the Round of 12 and were eliminated from the Playoffs following the Dover race.
2018: Heading to the Charlotte ROVAL (third race of the Playoffs) in 2018, Clint Bowyer was ranked 13th in the Playoff standings and four points back from the Round of 12 cutoff. Bowyer finished third at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course and advanced on points knocking Austin Dillon (39th-place finish at the Charlotte ROVAL due to an incident) out of the Playoffs.
2019: Heading to the Charlotte ROVAL (third race of the Playoffs) in 2019, Clint Bowyer was ranked 14th in the Playoff standings, four points back from the Round of 12 cutoff and Alex Bowman was ranked 13th in the Playoff standings just two points behind the Round of 12 cutoff. Bowyer finished fourth and Alex Bowman finished second at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course. Both drivers advanced on points to the Round of 12 knocking Kyle Larson (13th-place finish at Charlotte) and Aric Almirola (14th-place finish at Charlotte) out of the Playoffs.
2020: Like 2017, all four drivers below the cutline failed to advance.
2021: Alex Bowman and William Byron bumped their ways in while Aric Almirola and Kurt Busch were bounced. Byron was -18 while Bowman was tied with Busch for the final spot. Almirola was +3.
Bristol is a high banked concrete short track. Most similar to Dover although this track is half the size. Multiple grooves settle in as the race goes on. Can risk pit strategy here. Lapped traffic plays a key role in determining the outcome of this track.
Kyle Busch (+800)
Hard to pick against him. Busch, has three top two finishes in his last five starts on the concrete including four top four finishes in his last five races. Also, Busch finished runner-up in the 2020 All-Star race as well here and won on dirt this past April for his only win of the season. He has 6 top 10’s in 7 tries on short tracks this year.
Chase Elliott (+800)
He nearly won the race in the spring event of 2020, but won the All-Star race instead in July of that year. Elliott, was also seventh in this race in 2020, fifth in this race in 2019 and third in 2018. He led 129 laps in last year’s race and has accumulated 3 top 5’s in his last 4 short track starts on the season.
Christopher Bell (+900)
His last 2 Bristol finishes were 28th and 29th respectively. However, he has 3 top 4 finishes in his last 4 short track starts on the season which is why for these odds, he’s worth a gamble. Bell also has 6 top 8 finishes, 5 of which in the top 5, in the last 9 races on the season including being 1 of 2 drivers with a top 5 in both races this postseason.
Kevin Harvick (+1200)
He won in 2020 and was runner-up in 2021. Why not here? He has 4 top 6 finishes on short tracks this season including a Richmond win. He has to win to move on.
William Byron (+1200)
He has 2 top 8’s in his last 3 races here including being 3rd last year to go along with a win at Martinsville earlier this spring.
Ryan Blaney (+1500)
Last year was just his second career Bristol top five. However, while the finishes weren’t there prior, he had led at least 47 laps in five of his previous 7 Bristol starts including 3 of which being over 100 laps led at that. He also has finished 4th three times on short tracks this season too.
Joey Logano (+1200)
Logano has been stout at Bristol lately too.He has seven top 10s in his last 12 Bristol starts and if not for late race contact with Chase Elliott last spring of 2020, he would have won or at the very least finished second then too. He’s also has 4 top 8’s on short tracks this season and 5 top 6’s in the last 7 races on the overall season at that.
Ross Chastain (+1500)
He has 5 top 8’s on short tracks including a runner-up in Phoenix. Can he avoid being paid back from some angry drivers on Saturday night? Worth a look.
Longer Shot Of A Why Not?
Chris Buescher (+10000)
He has 3 top 10’s on short tracks this season including 3rd in Richmond.
Brad Keselowski (+10000)
3 top 6’s in his last four Bristol starts puts him on this list.
Who To Fade?
Denny Hamlin (+600)
He mentioned road courses and short tracks are their worst this season. 4 of his 7 short track finishes have seen him come home 21st or worse. He was 1st and 4th in the 2 Richmond races, but Bristol will look nothing like Richmond and to have him as the odds on favorite was a little steep to me.
Kyle Larson (+800)
Larson is the defending race winner. He led 175 laps a year ago. So why am I fading him? He’s not had a finish better than 5th on any short track this season including 4 of his last 5 finishes on them being 12th or worse.
Martin Truex Jr. (+1000)
He’s had 2 top 10’s in his last 18 Bristol tries. He’s been 20th or worse in 13 of the last 16 there at that.
Tyler Reddick (+1500)
He finished fourth in this race in 2020 but 12th last year and has been 12th or worse in all but 1 short track start this season.
Alex Bowman (+2500)
He was 5th last year but on short tracks this season, his last 3 finishes on them are 13th, 35th and 20th respectively.
Daniel Suarez (+4000)
No top 5’s on short tracks this season land him here.
Austin Dillon (+5000)
Just 1 top 10 in his last 9 Bristol tries and 5 of his 7 short track finishes have been 15th or worse this season…