Who’s Hot, Who’s Cold going into Sprint Cup Night Race at Bristol

(Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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In the last few years, Bristol Motor Speedway has been a frontrunner track.

The race winner started in the top five in six of the last seven races at the .533-mile track. The exception was Carl Edwards winning from 12th in the spring 2014 race.

The pole winner has won two of the last three Bristol races including Edwards last April. Edwards assumed the lead with 104 laps remaining and became the third winner in the last nine Bristol races to lead the final 100 laps. That came as the track has enjoyed an average of 18 lead changes among nine drivers in the eight races since grinding on the top groove was done in hopes of creating two-lane racing.

Now BMS has recently “polished” the bottom lane of the track surface with similar intentions.

When Kyle Busch won his five Bristol races in 2007 and 2009-2011, they were all after he started worse than 12th. Now Busch has failed to finish in top 10 in all but one of his last five Bristol starts.

Who’s Hot

Brad Keselowski – Finished in the top 10 in 10 of the last 13 races this season, including three wins and top-three finishes in the last two races. Two-time Bristol winner but last victory came in spring 2012.

Joey Logano – Finished in the top 10 in eight of the last 10 races of 2016, including a win at Michigan and top fives in six of the last nine races. Won the last two Bristol night races.

Tony Stewart – Six top 10s including a win at Sonoma in the last eight races. Finished top five in five of the last seven races, had only five top-fives in the 82 races prior. One Bristol win, which came in 2001.

Kurt Busch – Sixteen top-10 finishes in 2016, second most. Finished top 10 in 14 of the first 16 races this season, but only twice in the last six races. Finished on the lead lap in the first 22 races of 2016, a Sprint Cup record to start a season. Five Bristol wins, last coming in 2006. Has three top fives and six finishes of 14th or worse in the last 10 Bristol races. Finished third in April.

Ryan Newman – Finished 12th or better in seven of the last 10 races of 2016. Top-10 finishes in the last three races at Bristol including ninth in April. Best Bristol finish is second in 2004 night race.

Who’s Cold

Martin Truex Jr – Only four top-10 finishes in the nine races since his Charlotte win despite having a pole and 197 laps led. Finished seventh at Watkins Glen after running second on the final turn and then being hit by Brad Keselowski. Only two top-10 finishes in 21 starts at Bristol. Finished second in 2011 night race and third in spring 2012. Finished 14th in April for best finish at Bristol in the last six races.

Jimmie Johnson – Finished last at Watkins Glen, the first time he has ever finished last in a Sprint Cup race; only two top-10 finishes in the last 13 races of 2016. One Bristol win, spring 2010. Finished top five in three of the last four races at Bristol. Finished 23rd in April. Top-10 finishes in six of the last eight races on short tracks. Twelve short-track wins but his last was in April 2013 at Martinsville.

Kasey Kahne – Only one top 10 in the last eight races of 2016, none in the last six. One Bristol win, spring 2013. Finished 16th or worse in the last four races at Bristol.

Ryan Blaney – Does not have a top-10 finish in the last eight races after having four top 10s in the prior five races of 2016. Finished 22nd and 11th in his two Cup starts at Bristol. Has won at Bristol in both Xfinity and Trucks.

Other interesting notes heading into this weekend at Bristol:

  • JGR drivers won the pole for six of the last seven Bristol races including the last three with three different drivers.
  • Chevrolet has 43 Bristol wins (most) but is winless in the last six Bristol races and has not won the night race since Dale Earnhardt Jr. won it in August 2004.
  • The last time a driver got their first win of the season in the Bristol night race was Matt Kenseth in 2005.
  • The last eight short track race winners have all started seventh or better, including twice from the pole.
  • Only six drivers have won the last 11 Bristol August races: Matt Kenseth (three), Kyle Busch (two), Carl Edwards (two), Joey Logano (two), Brad Keselowski (one) and Denny Hamlin (one).