Aric Almirola

Bristol winners and losers

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WINNERS

Matt DiBenedettoHe won the night at Bristol if not the race, starting with his selection of the theme from “Rocky” for his intro music and then strolling on to the walkway in a silk boxing robe and boxing gloves. He led 93 laps and looked to be headed toward his first Cup win until Denny Hamlin passed him with 12 laps to go. DiBenedetto’s emotions after the runner-up finish also garnered new fans. They showed their appreciation with loud cheers when his interview was played on the track’s video board.

Denny Hamlin — Scored his fourth win of the season and sixth consecutive top-five finish. He is showing that this could be the year he wins that elusive championship.

Jeremy Clements Finished fourth in the Bristol Xfinity race, his best result since he won at Road America in 2017. Next up on the Xfinity schedule? Road America. Clements said that “it wouldn’t matter if we wrecked and finished last, I’d still be pumped up to go to Road America. I’m ready to kick their ass. That’s a place we can win”

Gray GauldingPlaced sixth in the Xfinity race for his best finish of the season at a track other than Daytona and Talladega. Afterward, he said: “What an awesome night. For all the little guys out there, this is what we work for … We’re definitely going to celebrate.”

Timmy HillMatched his career-best finish seventh in the Xfinity. That marked the first race in the partnership between Hattori Racing Enterprises and MBM Motorsports. How did the partnership help a team that had been cash strapped? Hill said HRE joining “gave us a little more tires. Normally we’re running on 40-50-lap scuff tires. That certainly helped tonight to have fresh tires.”

LOSERS

Austin DillonHis 34th-place finish was his fifth finish of 30th or worse in the last seven races.

Clint BowyerHis spin after making contact with Quin Houff just before the end of stage 2 could cost Bowyer a spot in the playoffs. The leaders pitted but those needing stage points, including Daniel Suarez and Ryan Newman, stayed out. Suarez scored nine stage points and passed Bowyer at the end of the night for the final playoff spot. Newman gained eight stage points and pulled further ahead of Bowyer in the points.

Aric AlmirolaDamage from a crash led to a 29th-place finish. He has placed 29th or worse in four of the last five Bristol races.

Driver intro songs for the Bristol night race

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BRISTOL, Tenn. — Here are the songs Cup Series drivers were introduced with before tonight’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

In order from last to first place.

Ross Chastain – “Watermelon Crawl” by Tracy Byrd

Kyle Weatherman – “All About that Bass” by Meghan Trainor

Reed Sorenson – “Georgia on my Mind” by Ray Charles

JJ Yeley – “Raining Blood” by Slayer

Josh Bilicki – “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons

Quin Houff – “Levels” by Avicii

BJ McLeod – “Fuel” by Metallica

Landon Cassill – “Hang on Sloopy” by The McCoys

Kyle Busch – “Lights Come On” by Jason Aldean

Jimmie Johnson – “Enter Sandman” by Metallica

Chris Buescher – “Evil Like You” by Red Sun Rising

Michael McDowell – “The Floor is Lava” by Blake Rules and Netherfriends

Matt Tifft – “Cleveland Rocks” by The President of the United States of America

Corey LaJoie – “Brand New Man” by Brooks & Dunn with Luke Combs

Paul Menard – “Baby Shark” by Leo Moracchioli

Ty Dillon – “Gold” by Imagine Dragons

Ryan Preece – “Girls, Girls, Girls” by Mötley Crüe

Bubba Wallace – “Into Despair” by Currents

William Byron – “Fortunate Sun” by Creedence Clearwater Revival

Clint Bowyer – “God’s Country” by Blake Shelton

Austin Dillon – “Cowboy Baby” by Kid Rock

Daniel Suarez – “El Mariachi Loco”

Daniel Hemric – “Lose Yourself” by Eminem

David Ragan – “You’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone” by Anna Kendrick

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – “Ain’t No Grave” by Johnny Cash

Ryan Newman – “These Are My People” by Rodney Atkins

Brad Keselowski – “Smoke on the Water” by Deep Purple

Ryan Blaney – “Living the Dream” by Sturgill Simpson

Joey Logano – “Circle of Life” by Elton John

Alex Bowman – “Bow Down” by I Prevail

Erik Jones – “The One I Loved Back Then” by George Jones

Kevin Harvick – “The Git Up” by Blanco Brown

Matt DiBenedetto – “Gonna Fly Now” by Bill Conti (song made famous by the movie “Rocky”)

Chase Elliott – “Beer Never Broke My Heart” by Luke Combs

Aric Almirola – “Give Me the Green Light” by Pit Bull

Kurt Busch – “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC

Martin Truex Jr. – “Drinkin’ Hours” by Cole Swindell

Kyle Larson – “Money in the Grave” by Drake

Denny Hamlin – “Some of It” by Eric Church

 

Starting lineup for Cup night race at Bristol

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Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson are on the provisional front row for Saturday’s Cup Series night race at Bristol Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Hamlin claimed the provisional pole, which would be his first of the year.

The lineup will be final after inspection Saturday. Any car that fails inspection once will have to start from the rear.

The top five is completed by Martin Truex Jr., Kurt Busch and Aric Almirola.

Click here for the provisional starting lineup.

Denny Hamlin wins provisional pole for Cup night race at Bristol

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Denny Hamlin has won the provisional pole for Saturday’s Cup Series night race at Bristol Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

With a speed of 129.230 Hamlin claimed his first pole of the season and the first pole of the year for Toyota.

The qualifying results will not be final until after inspection Saturday. If a car fails inspections once it time will be disallowed and will start from the rear.

Should his car pass inspection, it would be Hamlin’s 31st career pole and his fourth at Bristol, which leads active drivers.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver enters this weekend with five consecutive top-five finishes.

“These guys are on it right now, it’s unbelievable,” Hamlin told NBCSN. “Just definitely trying to learn every week, do everything I can to get better and the results are showing it.”

Hamlin will be joined on the front row by Kyle Larson (129.004 mph).

The top five is completed by Martin Truex Jr. (128.995), defending race winner Kurt Busch (128.813) and Aric Almirola (128.770).

Kyle Busch, who won at Bristol in the spring, was the first car to make a qualifying attempt and he qualified 31st. According to Racing Insights, only two of the 117 Cup races at Bristol were won from a starting position of 30th or worse.

Click here for qualifying results.

Matt DiBenedetto fastest in final Cup practice at Bristol

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Matt DiBenedetto claimed the fastest single lap in the Cup Series’ final practice session Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway.

DiBenedetto posted a top speed of 128.848 mph around the half-mile track.

The top five was completed by Ryan Blaney (128.245 mph), Aric Almirola (128.228), Chase Elliott (128.219) and Alex Bowman (128.168).

Blaney had the best five and 10-lap averages (125.660 mph). Erik Jones and DiBenedetto followed in the 10-lap category.

Joey Logano recorded the most laps in the session with 116.

Click here for the speed chart.

The red flag was displayed with eight minutes left for fluid put on the track by Blaney, whose power steering pump failed.

After cleanup was completed the session was extended by 12 minutes.

Front Row Motorsports’ Matt Tifft was relieved for final practice by Xfinity Series driver Chase Briscoe after Tifft experienced symptom of vertigo during first practice. Tifft will be reevaluated before qualifying.