The race for the final Chase spots begin to close.
Only four races remain until the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, and the march toward the playoffs begins with Saturday’s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway (7 p.m. on NBCSN).
Eleven drivers have captured berths by winning a race and they will likely be joined by Pocono victor Chris Buescher, who sits just three points outside of the 30th position he needs to seize a spot.
Here’s how the Chase Grid looks today: Brad Keselowski (4 wins), Kyle Busch (4), Carl Edwards (2), Denny Hamlin (2), Matt Kenseth (2), Jimmie Johnson (2), Kevin Harvick (1), Kurt Busch (1), Joey Logano (1), Martin Truex Jr (1), Tony Stewart (1), Ryan Newman (50 points ahead of Trevor Bayne on the cutoff line), Chase Elliott (+49), Austin Dillon (+47), Jamie McMurray (+38), Kyle Larson (+8).
The first four out are Bayne (-8), Kasey Kahne (-11), Ryan Blaney (-18) and AJ Allmendinger (-34).
Buescher entering the top 30 would hurt the non-winners on the Chase Grid’s chances at making the playoffs, specifically Kyle Larson. In that scenario, four drivers would get in on points as of now: Newman (42 points ahead of Larson), Elliott (+41), Austin Dillon (+39) and McMurray (+30).
The first four out would be Larson (-30), Bayne (-38), Kahne (-41) and Blaney (-48).
Larson’s Chase hopes were damaged at Watkins Glen when a last-lap wreck with AJ Allmendinger while running in the top five landed him a 29th-place finish.
A win automatically gets a driver into the Chase as long as he/she has attempted to start every event and is in the top 30 in points following Richmond.
The winless drivers with victories at the remaining tracks:
Bristol: Dale Earnhardt Jr. (will not race at Bristol; Jeff Gordon will start in the No. 88), Kasey Kahne
Michigan: Greg Biffle, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne
Darlington: Greg Biffle, Regan Smith
Richmond: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne, Ryan Newman
Logano seeks third straight win
Joey Logano will attempt to win at Bristol for the third straight August in Saturday’s Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race.
The No. 22 Team Penske driver led the second-most laps in each of his previous two Bristol night race wins. Logano’s 76 laps led trailed Jamie McMurray’s 178 laps led in 2014, while his 176 laps led trailed Kyle Busch’s 192 last season. Coincidentally, McMurray and Busch both finished eighth.
In 15 career starts at Bristol, Logano claims two wins, three top fives and five top 10s. He leads active drivers with a 7.6 average start at the Tennessee track.
Logano has been on a tear lately with six top-five finishes in his last nine starts, including a runner-up finish in the last NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen.
The last driver to win three consecutive Bristol Night Races was Darrell Waltrip from 1981-83 (he won a record-tying seven straight Bristol races, overall, from 1981-84).
Edwards Eyes First Sweep Of Season
Carl Edwards will try to earn the first sweep of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season in Saturday’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway, the high-banked concrete oval.
Edwards led a race-high 276 laps from the pole on his way to victory in the April race at “The Last Great Colosseum.” He’s excelled at Bristol in the past with four wins (his most at any track), six top fives and 11 top 10s in 24 career starts there.
The No. 19 Toyota driver – sometimes nicknamed ‘Concrete Carl’ – enters Saturday’s race with just one top-10 finish in his last four starts (eighth at Pocono).
Busch brothers battle For Bristol
Kyle and Kurt Busch can break their tie for the active Bristol Motor Speedway wins lead when they go for their sixth victory at the .533-mile track.
In 22 starts at Bristol, Kyle claims five wins, eight top fives and 13 tops 10s. He has the second-best driver rating (99.7) and third-best average finish (13.1) there.
Kurt owns five wins, nine top fives and 16 top 10s in 31 starts at Bristol.
Kyle’s last Bristol win came in spring of 2011, while Kurt’s took place in spring of 2006.
JGR Continues Winning Ways At Bristol
Joe Gibbs Racing drivers have won 20 of the last 41 races dating back to last season’s contest at Kentucky. Kyle Busch accounts for eight victories, followed by Matt Kenseth (6), Carl Edwards (3) and Denny Hamlin (3).
The organization will look to continue its winning ways in Saturday night’s race at Bristol. JGR’s four drivers have won 14 of the last 22 races at Bristol (six of the victories occurred when Kenseth, Busch and Edwards were on other teams).
A JGR driver has visited Victory Lane in three of the last four races: Kenseth (New Hampshire), Busch (Indianapolis) and Denny Hamlin (Watkins Glen).