Stories to keep tabs on Saturday night for the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Hamlin Hot Streak
Denny Hamlin has been as red hot as the summer weather and comes to Bristol with a string of five consecutive top-five finishes. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver starts Saturday night’s race from the pole in search of his second career Bristol Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win.
The last four Bristol Cup races have been won by the Busch brothers with Kurt the defending race winner while younger brother Kyle has won three times including this spring. Kyle has eight career Bristol Cup Series victories and can tie Rusty Wallace, Dale Earnhardt and Cale Yarborough on the all-time list with a ninth trip to Victory Lane.
More discussion about the PJ1 traction compound being applied to the racing surface and whether it will make the racing product better. Several drivers have voiced their concerns this weekend the track preparation and where they substance was applied didn’t reflect their input on what would make for the best racing. Whether there will be two grooves or just one remains to be seen.
Three races remain in the regular season and the fight to get into the playoffs will be intense. Clint Bowyer holds the final transfer spot with just a six point advantage over Stewart-Haas teammate Daniel Suarez with Jimmie Johnson next 12 points behind. Of course a win relieves the pressure of points racing for any driver not already locked into the post-season grid.
Long Way to Go
There are several high profile drivers who did not fare well in qualifying that will have to come from deep in the field including Kyle Busch in the 31st position. Johnson is also back there in 30th with a big hill to climb. Inspiration might come from Friday night’s Xfinity Series race winner Tyler Reddick who overcame his rear of the field starting position due to failing pre-race inspection to take the checkered flag.