NASCAR Cup Series
Next Race: Food City presents SUPERMARKET HEROES 500
The Place: Bristol Motor Speedway
The Date: Sunday, May 31
The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 3 p.m. ET
Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 266.5 miles (500 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 125),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 250), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 500)
2019 Race Winner: Kyle Busch
NASCAR Xfinity Series
Next Race: Cheddar’s 300 presented by Alsco
The Place: Bristol Motor Speedway
The Date: Monday, June 1
The Time: 7 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 6:30 p.m. ET
Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 159.9 miles (300 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 85),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 170), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 300)
2019 Race Winner: Christopher Bell
NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series
Next Race: Vet Tix/Camping World 200
The Place: Atlanta Motor Speedway
The Date: Saturday, June 6
The Time: 1 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 12:30 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 200.02 miles (130 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 30),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 60), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 134)
2019 Winner: Kyle Busch
NASCAR Cup Series
“Thunder Valley” welcomes back NASCAR
Less than three days after taking the checkered flag at Charlotte Motor Speedway in a rain delayed event won by Chase Elliott, the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Bristol Motor Speedway for the first short-track race of the season.
The half-mile circuit near the border of Tennessee and Virginia has hosted 118 Cup Series races and 42 different drivers have visited the unusual elevated Victory Lane in the small infield.
Denny Hamlin will be looking to go back-to-back at Bristol after winning the fall race last year. If he wins on Sunday, it would be the 13th different driver to win consecutive races in Thunder Valley. It was most recently done by Kyle Busch (fall 2017 and spring 2018, he also swept the races in 2009) and has been done by two other active drivers (Kurt Busch – 2003 sweep and 2004 spring race; Brad Keselowski – fall 2011-spring 2012).
Hamlin is one of two drivers this season with multiple victories after winning the season opener at Daytona and the second Darlington race. Joey Logano is the other, winning at Las Vegas and Phoenix prior to the stoppage due to the pandemic.
Kevin Harvick is the lone driver this season to finish in the top 10 in each of the opening eight races, with five of those being top-five results.
Chase finally takes the checkered
After a pair of heart-breaking defeats while leading in the final laps of the races at Darlington-2 and Charlotte-1, there were four-leaf clovers in Chase Elliott’s path on Thursday night at Charlotte as he held on to capture his first win of the season in the 312-mile event.
Elliott passed fading Kevin Harvick for the lead on Lap 181 of 208 and cruised to a 2.208-second victory over fast-closing Denny Hamlin, who passed Ryan Blaney for the runner-up position on the final lap.
The win was a welcome relief for the driver of the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, who was wrecked by Kyle Busch while running second May 20 at Darlington and was KO’d by a late caution in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte on Sunday while leading with two laps left.
If you’re wondering if Elliott can win two in a row, he stands a shot at Bristol. He’s finished in the top five in two of the most recent three races there. And finished fourth in his series track debut at Bristol in 2016. He has also completed an impressive 99.3 percent of the laps in the races he’s entered on the tough short track.
Elliott has put together four top-five results in the opening eight races and five top 10s. He’s completed all but nine laps and currently sits in in third in the points standings, 41 points back of the leader Kevin Harvick.
Food City to honor supermarket heroes
The NASCAR Cup Series was originally scheduled to race at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 5, but the pause in racing pushed that event to this Sunday at 3:30 p.m. on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Earlier this week, long-time Bristol Motor Speedway partner Food City announced a new event name to honor the individuals working in the grocery industry throughout the pandemic. The “Food City presents the SUPERMARKET HEROES 500” honors all of the workers from the cashiers, those in the stock room, workers in the fresh departments and the truck drivers who deliver goods.
“Like our counterparts throughout this great nation, our dedicated team of associates have gone above and beyond the call of duty to meet the needs of our customers and the communities we serve,” said Steven C. Smith, president and CEO of Food City. “From the extraordinary efforts of our front-line store associates to those working behind the scenes, this is truly a team effort. We’re proud to have this opportunity to honor supermarket heroes around the country for their hard work and dedication, as Food City proudly presents the SUPERMARKET HEROES 500.”
Food City has been the entitlement partner of the spring race at Bristol since 1992 and this Sunday’s race marks the 60th running of the race.
Busch brothers rule Bristol
Darrell Waltrip tops the all-time wins list at Bristol with 12. Dale Earnhardt, Rusty Wallace and Cale Yarborough trail with nine wins apiece. But the last name that appears the most often on the Bristol Motor Speedway wins list is “Busch.”
Kyle Busch (eight wins) and his older brother Kurt (six wins) have combined for 14 wins at Bristol and there’s no reason to think that number couldn’t grow this Sunday in the Food City presents the SUPERMARKET HEROES 500.
Kyle’s mark leads active drivers in wins, while Kurt is second in that group. The next closest among drivers on Sunday’s entry list is Matt Kenseth’s four wins, while Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski, and Joey Logano have two apiece.
And the Busch brothers have combined to win four of the last five races at the half-mile track. Kyle is the most recent Busch to post a win, capturing the victory in the spring race a year ago. Kurt preceded him the fall before.
Overall in 38 starts, Kurt has the six wins, 12 top fives, 20 top 10s and has led 1,095 laps at Bristol. Kyle has the eight wins as part of 12 top fives, 17 top 10s and led 2,334 laps in 29 starts.
And the next best at Bristol
While the Busch brothers have ruled Bristol amongst the active drivers, Matt Kenseth isn’t too far behind with four wins in Thunder Valley.
The driver of the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet last won at Bristol in the spring of 2015 – and it was the only of his four wins that came in the spring race.
Almost as remarkable as his wins is that he’s completed nearly 95 percent of the laps in the 36 starts he has made at Bristol – crashing out in only four of those races. Impressive at the short track known for beating and banging.
Kenseth’s last races at Bristol came in 2017, when he finished fourth in both races. He’s led 1,583 laps and posted 15 top-five and 22 top-10 finishes.
Five other active drivers have two wins at the track – Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski, and Joey Logano. Hamlin is the most recent winner at Bristol, having won last fall.
Prior to Hamlin, the Busch brothers ran off four wins between them. Johnson won in the spring race in 2017, Logano won most recently in the fall of 2015, and Keselowski has the longest gap since his wins – which were back-to-back in the fall of 2011 and the spring of 2012.
Wood he, could he?
The storied Wood Brothers Racing team has been stuck at 99 wins since Ryan Blaney piloted the No. 21 Ford to Victory Lane at Pocono in 2017.
But this weekend could be the race in which they get that hundredth win with Matt DiBenedetto, who will be making only his ninth start for the team. And if he does reach Victory Lane, he would be the 19th different driver to win for the Woods.
Last fall, then driving for Leavine Family Racing, DiBenedetto came oh-so-close to capturing his first career win at the Bristol short track. Late in the race, he lost a large lead he had on Denny Hamlin while trying to put Ryan Newman a lap down. After DiBenedetto led a race-high 93 laps, Hamlin caught him with a dozen laps to go and held on for the lead.
The emotional second-place result for DiBenedetto was a career-best finish – matched earlier this season at Las Vegas with his new team.
DiBenedetto also scored a top-10 finish at Bristol in 2016 while driving for BK Racing, placing sixth in the spring race.
And Wood Brothers Racing has a history of bringing a driver to his first career win at Bristol. In the spring race in 2001, Elliott Sadler won his first NASCAR Cup Series race. He started 38th, the deepest in the field that a race winner has started from at Bristol.
Team Penske putting the pedal to the metal
Just eight races into the season Team Penske is showing they are a force to be reckoned with. After an off-season crew chief shakeup that saw Paul Wolfe move from working with Brad Keselowski to Joey Logano, Todd Gordon go from Logano to Ryan Blaney, and Jeremy Bullins move from Blaney to Keselowski the Ford organization is showing its strength.
Logano is tied atop the wins list with Denny Hamlin with two – taking a pair of wins on the west coast swing at Las Vegas and Phoenix, while Keselowski won the Coca-Cola 600 last weekend. And Logano is also near the top of the points, sitting second, 14 points behind the leader Kevin Harvick.
Logano also has a sixth-place finish at the second Darlington race and Keselowski finished fifth at Auto Club and fourth at Darlington to put together three top fives thus far in 2020. Keselowski is fifth in the points
And while Blaney finished second in the season-opening Daytona 500 and third in the Coca-Cola 600. He also put together an 11th-place finish in Las Vegas and is holding on to a solid sixth place in the points standings.
In the second of the races on the Charlotte oval this week, Blaney recorded his second straight third-place finish, while Logano and Keselowski were sixth and seventh, respectively.
As Blaney looks to join his Team Penske colleagues in the winner’s circle, Bristol could be the place that gives him a shot. Blaney has been solid at Bristol as of late, with three straight top-10 finishes in the last three races, including a finish of fourth in the spring race a year ago. He also had an 11th-place and a 10th-place result in the spring of 2016 and fall of 2017.
Champs spring from Bristol
In the past 20 years, four drivers have won the spring Bristol race en route to the season-ending championship. No drivers have won the fall race as part of their title run in that time.
And all four of the drivers are still racing fulltime in 2020.
The most recent driver to accomplish the feat was Kyle Busch, who did it on his way to winning his second NASCAR Cup Series championship. And it’s been well documented that Kyle Busch has the most wins at Bristol among active drivers – five of his eight wins have come in the early-season event at the half-mile track.
Brad Keselowski won the spring race in 2012, then racing a Dodge for Team Penske, and Jimmie Johnson won the fifth of five consecutive championships after winning the spring race in 2010.
Kurt Busch also accomplished the feat, winning the 2004 spring Bristol race before hoisting the series title trophy in the fall.
Sunoco Rookie watch
Through eight races, Tyler Reddick has taken a solid lead in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings. The young Richard Childress Racing driver has a pair of top 10s (seventh at Darlington-1 and eighth at Charlotte-1) and 185 points.
Next up on the list is John Hunter Nemechek, who climbed into second in the rookie standings after the second Charlotte race with a total of 141 points. He was the highest-finishing rookie, placing 13th.
Cole Custer, who posted his first career top-10 finish in the Cup Series at Phoenix before the stoppage in racing action, finished 18th at Charlotte-2 and dropped a spot in the rookie standings. He’s in third, three points behind Nemechek.
NASCAR Xfinity Series
The NASCAR Xfinity Series heads to Bristol, Tenn. for some short-track racing at “The Last Great Colosseum” on Monday night to kick off the month of June.
The Cheddar’s 300 presented by Alsco (7 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) will be the series’ first race back since their Memorial Day race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
In that race on Monday, Kyle Busch secured his 97th victory in the series after making a last-lap pass on Austin Cindric who had originally blown past Busch during an overtime restart. Daniel Hemric, driver of the No. 8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet, then finished runner-up to Busch and Cindric, driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford, finished third.
Ross Chastain, the pole-sitter, finished fourth in the No. 10 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet and Justin Allgaier finished fifth in the No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet. Brett Moffitt, Brandon Brown, Harrison Burton and Myatt Snider completed the top 10. Noah Gragson finished in 11th and was the last driver to finish on the lead lap.
Chase Briscoe, the only multi-race winner in the series thus far, held onto his status as the points leader by finishing 20th. And Burton kept his status as the leader of the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings.
Dash 4 Cash is back!
The Dash 4 Cash initiative for the NASCAR Xfinity Series is back this season, but the schedule looks a little different due to the changes in the 2020 schedule caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This Monday at Bristol Motor Speedway (7 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), the Cheddar’s 300 presented by Alsco will serve as the qualifier race to set the field of four (the top four Xfinity Series finishers at Bristol) who will race for the first bonus in the EchoPark 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on June 6.
The Atlanta race will set the Dash 4 Cash field for the next race in the program, which will be Miami-2 on June 14th. Talladega Superspeedway follows on June 20 and then the next race on the NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule will round out the program as the fourth event. That race will be determined when NASCAR releases the next portion of the revised schedule.
The first of the four competitors to finish at Atlanta will win the $100,000 bonus. The winner and the next three highest finishing full-time Xfinity drivers will qualify for the next event.
Once again, Xfinity will have a charitable component tied into the local markets in the Dash 4 Cash program. In each of the Dash 4 Cash markets, Xfinity is going to make donations that reaffirm their companywide commitment of connecting families, veterans and seniors to tools necessary for navigating these tough times.
Xfinity to salute employee heroes on windshields
On Monday, June 1 during the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway, Xfinity will salute military community employees from across the company that are working to keep communities safe and connected. Among those recognized are 23 employees actively serving in the National Guard who are responding to the current crisis.
The Xfinity logo that is typically on each windshield will be replaced with these Comcast employees’ names and a patriotic red, white and blue design.
“This global crisis has challenged everyone to step up and prioritize those around us, so we wanted to showcase our pride and salute the selfless efforts of our employees with this unique recognition on all NASCAR Xfinity Series race cars,” said Matt Lederer, Comcast’s Vice President of Brand Partnerships & Activation. ““Comcast is proud of our employees nationwide that are coming together to support our customers and communities during this national crisis.”
A few of the honorees include: Deeva Williams, a recently mobilized National Guard soldier who distributes prepackaged meals at mobile food banks in Tacoma, Wash., Rachel Cabanting, who is assisting with National Guard safety programs and procedures at testing centers in the state of Florida – while also collaborating on other key operations to minimize risk during the mission, Stephen Rolston, whose National Guard unit is directly assisting the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, and Ashley Farmer, a third-generation service member that utilizes her military experience to propel her teammates forward – earning business results and recognition from her co-workers.
There are approximately 50,000 National Guard and reserve service members mobilized in response to the pandemic and more than 2,000 Comcast NBCUniversal employees serve in the National Guard and reserve.
Xfinity Series at Bristol
A lot of history has been made at Bristol Motor Speedway, the .533-mile track in Bristol, Tennessee. The track has 24 to 28 degrees of banking in corners and five to nine degrees of banking on the frontstretch and four to nine degrees on the backstretch. The backstretch and frontstretch are both 650 feet long.
Elliott Sadler holds the race record at the track from March 17, 2012 at 94.740 mph.
Kyle Busch has the most wins (9), most poles (6) and most top fives (17) at the track for the Xfinity Series. Kevin Harvick holds the record for the most top 10s (24).
The most lead changes in an Xfinity Series race at Bristol was 16 in 2016 and the fewest was one, most recently in 2015. In 2015, there was only one leader and in 2010, there were 10 different leaders.
The most cautions in a race was 14 in 2006 and the fewest cautions was two in 1983. There were 103 caution laps in the 2007 race and only 19 in the 1983 race. Chevrolet has the most wins by a manufacturer at the track with 33.
Currently, there is only one previous Bristol Motor Speedway winner entered in the Xfinity Series race on Monday. Jeff Green, who will pilot the No. 93 RSS Racing Chevrolet, won at Bristol in 2002 for Richard Childress Racing. Green works fulltime for RSS Racing as a crew chief for the No. 93 and also runs a part-time schedule for the team.
There have been 75 races at Bristol with 49 different pole winners and 48 race winners. The last race won from the pole was in 2017 by Kyle Busch.
Holding onto the lead
The points standings did not see a huge shakeup after the Alsco 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Monday. With Kyle Busch, who cannot declare points in the Xfinity Series, winning both stages and the race, Chase Briscoe was able to hold onto his points lead.
Austin Cindric’s impressive third-place run bumped him up to second in the points standings and Harrison Burton dropped to fourth. However, he is still the highest-ranked rookie in the series.
Here is a look at the Xfinity Series points standings:
Who stacks up at Bristol, baby?
Looking back at this race last year, six of the drivers that finished in the top 10 are currently sitting in the top 10 in Xfinity Series points standings.
Christopher Bell (first), Tyler Reddick (second) and Cole Custer (third), now Cup Series drivers, took the first three spots and Chase Briscoe took the fourth.
In sixth was Austin Cindric followed by Justin Haley, Michael Annett, Noah Gragson and Harrison Burton.
Briscoe will be making his fifth start at Bristol on Monday. He has two top fives in the last two races, finishing fourth and runner-up.
Cindric will also be making his fifth start on Monday. He has one top five and two top 10s at the track and started from the pole position at the second Bristol race last year.
Haley will be making his third start and has a best finish of seventh in this race last season.
Annett has 15 starts to his name at Bristol, the most of any of the drivers in the top 10. He has seven top-10 finishes and three of those came in the last three races.
Gragson will be making his third series start and has one top 10, coming at this race in 2019, too. Lastly, Burton will be making his second start in the series at Bristol. His first came last season for Joe Gibbs Racing, when he started fifth and finished 10th.
Speaking of Joe Gibbs Racing, Burton, who now competes fulltime in the No. 20 Toyota, will look to carry Bell’s momentum into Monday’s race.
Burton took over the No. 20 this season for Bell, who moved up to the Cup Series for Leavine Family Racing.
Joe Gibbs Racing shines at Bristol Motor Speedway and has won six of the last nine races at the track. Kyle Busch won the fall 2015 race for JGR and Erik Jones won the spring race in 2016. JGR swept the races in 2017 with Jones and Busch both taking home another victory. Ryan Preece won at the spring Bristol race in 2018 for JGR and Bell’s win last season is the most recent.
In total, JGR has 13 wins at the track in the series, the most of any other team owner.
Even with only one start at the track, Burton is ranked second at the track for average running position and has the fifth-best driver rating at 97.3.
He also leads the rankings in average speed early in the run at 106.038 mph.
With the momentum that Burton has shown so far this season and a strong showing in his first start at the short track last season, another win could be in the cards for the driver of the No. 20.
Eyes on Allgaier
The numbers would say that Justin Allgaier, driver of the No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet, is the one to watch on Monday at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Aside from the fact that he has had a strong start to the season, Allgaier’s numbers at Bristol are extremely good. Allgaier got his first career win at the track in March of 2010.
So far this season, Allgaier has two top-five finishes (Darlington and Charlotte) and three top-10 finishes (Darlington, Charlotte, Las Vegas).
Monday’s race at Bristol will mark Allgaier’s 19th start at the track. He has one win (2010), eight top fives and 11 top 10s. He also has an average start of 7.3.
Allgaier finished in the top 10 in the last 10 Xfinity Series race at Bristol except two.
Allgaier has the third-best driver rating of the series at Bristol at 125.2 and the only two drivers in front of him are Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski.
He’s also ranked third for the fastest laps run at 243 and second for green flag passes (520).
Allgaier has run 4,067 laps in the top 15 and is in second place for the most laps led at 482.
The No. 7 Chevrolet has run up front a lot this season and Bristol seems like it could be the place that he finally takes home the checkered flag.
Chastain, Cindric moving on up
Ross Chastain and Austin Cindric are two drivers to keep an eye on at Bristol Motor Speedway on Monday.
After Chastain’s performance at Charlotte Motor Speedway, he jumped two spots in the standings and is now third, only 12 points behind Chase Briscoe.
Chastain’s jump in the points is the most of any other driver in the top 10. He led 68 laps, the second-most, and finished runner-up in both stages at Charlotte.
Austin Cindric also jumped up one spot and is now second in the points standings, right behind Briscoe by only eight points.
He finished sixth in Stage 1 and fourth in Stage 2 before battling with Kyle Busch for the win on the last lap.
Chastain and Cindric are both the highest ranked drivers without a win and seem to be getting closer and closer each week to the victory.
Cindric has only finished outside of the top 10 in one of the six races so far and it was in the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway, where he was involved in a wreck.
Chastain is in the same boat as Cindric and only finished outside of the top 10 in the season-opening race at Daytona.
Pit stall assignments, starting lineup procedures update
Pit selection will be selected based on finishing position from the May 25 race at Charlotte, followed by new entries in order of points.
Positions 1-12: The first 12 NXS Teams based on the Adverse Conditions Line Up Eligibility will be assigned starting positions 1st – 12th using a random draw.
Positions 13-24: The next 12 NXS Teams based on the Adverse Conditions Line Up eligibility will be assigned starting positions 12th- 24th using a random draw.
Starting positions 25-36: The next 12 NXS Teams based on the Adverse Conditions Line Up eligibility will be assigned starting positions 25th -36th using a random draw.
Any vehicles that are eligible for the Event in position 37th – 40th will be assigned starting positions based on their order of eligibility.
NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series
The bounty hunter, Chase Elliott, set out to capture the win on Tuesday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway and on the first try, he was successful.
In the closing laps of the North Carolina Education Lottery 200, Elliott held off a hard-charging Kyle Busch to earn the victory and a $100,000 bounty, to be paid to a COVID-19 relief charity of his choice, offered to any full-time NASCAR Cup Series driver who could beat Busch in a Gander Trucks race.
Elliott, who hadn’t been behind the wheel of a truck since 2017, made it happen despite the fact that Busch had won each of his last seven races started in the Gander Trucks.
The idea of the bounty all started when Cup Series driver Kevin Harvick and chairman and CEO of Gander RV & Outdoors, Marcus Lemonis, each put up $50,000 following the Las Vegas event for any Cup driver who could beat Busch in a Gander Trucks race. The money is being donated to coronavirus relief in Elliott’s name.
Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Zane Smith finished third in his first national series start at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Brett Moffitt finished fourth and Sheldon Creed rounded out the top five. John Hunter Nemechek, who was also going after the bounty, finished sixth, Johnny Sauter finished seventh followed by Ty Majeski, Austin Hill and Ben Rhodes.
Tuesday’s race marked the return for the Gander Trucks, which had been off since Feb. 21 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
They enter another off weekend while the Xfinity Series and Cup Series head to Bristol Motor Speedway, but return on June 6 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Starting lineup, pit stall selection process updates
NASCAR recently announced how the lineup will be set for the two Gander Trucks races through mid-June (Atlanta, June 6; Miami, June 13).
• Positions 1-10: Random draw of teams in those positions in owner points
• Positions 11-21: Random draw of teams in those positions in owner points
• Positions 22-32: Random draw of teams in those positions in owner points
• Any vehicles that are eligible for the Event in position 33rd – 40th will be assigned starting positions based on their order of eligibility.
Like the other two series, pit stall selections will be ordered based on finishing positions from the series’ previous race, followed by new entries in order of points.