NASCAR in Bristol: Can Kyle Bush Advance? The starting lineup

Kyle Busch gives his autograph during driver introductions before the auto race for the NASCAR Cup Series at Richmond Raceway, Sunday, Aug. 14, 2022, in Richmond, Virginia (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

Kyle Busch gives his autograph during driver introductions before the auto race for the NASCAR Cup Series at Richmond Raceway, Sunday, Aug. 14, 2022, in Richmond, Virginia (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

AP

Kyle Busch described his sporting transformation from Joe Gibbs Racing to Richard Childress Racing as “one of the most important decisions” of his career and life.

Maybe it came at the right time.

The NASCAR Cup Series returns at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (USA Network, PRN, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio) to Bristol Motor Speedway, the home of a cut-off race that will kick four of the 16 drivers from the current qualifiers out of the Cup Championship chase.

One of the guys who’s under the cut line right now? Bush.

One of the favorites to win in Bristol? Perhaps this is Busch, too.

with the bulk of Pressure-free agency behind himBosch practically crosses the cut-off line for Round 12. He will start in P21, two points behind Austin Cendrick (12th) and Tyler Riddick (11th) and only four points behind Daniel Suarez (10th).

The good news for Bosch – and bad news for Cendrick, Redik, Suarez and the rest of the field – is that he’s historically been very fast in Bristol: He’s racked up eight wins and 20 top 10 spots there since 2006. (Drivers) with the second most wins in Bristol? Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick each got three, according to media notes.)

Busch’s last race on the historic track finished in a 21st run, but before that he finished second in September 2020, first in April 2019 and first in April 2018.

He had his bad luck running in this year’s playoffs – which included an “ugly day” in Kansas and Engine failure in Darlington two weeks ago – But the veteran driver is confident nonetheless for Saturday.

“It’s just the unfortunate circumstances that continue to bite us,” Bush told reporters on Tuesday. “And it’s not that it’s anyone’s fault, or that there’s anything malicious going on, it’s just so crazy that he can’t turn around and be a normal one-off weekend.”

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Eric Jones (43), Ross Chastain (1), Ryan Blaney (12), Alex Bowman (48), Martin Truex (19), Kevin Harvick (4) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (47) compete in the NASCAR Southern 500 auto race Sunday, Sep 4, 2022, in Darlington, SC Jones wins the race after taking the lead from Kyle Bush when Bosch blew out an engine with 30 laps left in the race. (AP Photo / Sean Rayford) Sean Rayford AP

It includes the rest of the men outside Austin Dillon, who sits three points behind Cendrick, and Chase Briscoe, who sits eight points behind Cendrick. It is conceivable that they could all sneak into the round of 12 with only points. (Dillon will start Sunday’s race at P28; Briscoe will start at P2.)

In media availability on Thursday, Briscoe said his team would focus on collecting stage points and that he did not necessarily consider Bristol a “must” race. He added that Saturday’s Cup race will see “probably the most chaotic race we’ve seen in Bristol in a long time”, adding that next-generation cars “will be out of control”.

“I think it’s going to be very fast, and faster than what has been going on there in a long time,” Briscoe said. He added: “This track has gotten a lot rougher and rougher over the years, and so, I feel like if you throw all these sets, and you throw in qualifying, it’s going to be really chaotic. I feel like there will probably be more spurs than we’ve seen in a really long time in Bristol. It will be a draining race.”

Said Sindrick: “It’s all very close between 99, Riddick, me, Kyle, Chase and you still have a guy like Kevin Harvick who can win on his way. … I think it’s a wild race from a points perspective.”

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Kyle Larson, left, talks with Chase Briscoe before qualifying for the NASCAR Series car race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Sunday, August 15, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo / Darron Cummings) Darron Cummings AP

The car that finished last in the playoff, No. 4 at Harvick, would need to win for a place in the round of 12. He starts in seventh.

Eric Almerola will start from first place. Alex Bowman will start in third, and Denny Hamlin will start in fourth. Kyle Larson, who this week signed on to Contract extension with Hendrick Motorsports until 2026Fifth will start.

No playoff driver has won a playoff race yet. Eric Jones won in Darlington, and Bubba Wallace won in Kansas.

Here’s what you need to know, too.

NASCAR race details in Bristol

  • a race: Bass Pro Shops Night Race
  • place: Bristol Motor Speedway
  • Date: Saturday 17th September
  • time: 7:30 p.m. Eastern time
  • money bag: $8338,394
  • Television: USA, 6:30 p.m. ET
  • radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR (Channel 90)
  • distance: distance: 266.5 miles (500 laps)
  • Phase: The first stage ends on lap 125, the second stage ends on lap 250, and the third stage ends on lap 500

Bass Pro Stores Night Race: Starting lineup

ranking driver car number
1 Eric Almerola 10
2 Chase Brisco 14
3 Alex Bowman 48
4 Denny Hamlin 11
5 Kyle Larson 5
6 Ryan Blaney 12
7 Kevin Harvick 4
8 Christopher Bell 20
9 Austin Cendrick 2
10 Brad Kiselowski 6
11 Cole Custer 41
12 Ross Chastain 1
13 AJ Almendir 16
14 Bubba Wallace 45
15th Joey Logano 22
16 William Byron 24
17 Tyler Riddick 8
18 Michael McDowell 34
19 Justin Haley 31
20 Chris Bucher 17
21 Kyle Bush 18
22 Martin Truex Jr. 19
23 Chase Elliot 9
24 Eric Jones 43
25 Ty Gibbs 23
26 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 47
27 Harrison Burton 21
28 Austin Dillon 3
29 Daniel Suarez 99
30 Todd Gilliland 38
31 Corey Lagoy 7
32 kodi ware 51
33 PJ MacLeod 78
34 Ty Dillon 42
35 Landon Castle 77
36 JJ follows 15th

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Alex Zietlow writes about NASCAR, Charlotte FC, and the ways sports intersect with life in the Charlotte area for The Observer, where he has been a reporter since August 2022. Zietlow’s work has been honored by the NC and SC Press Association, also as an APSE, which gave him a Top 10 Ranks in the Beat Writing and Short Feature categories in the 2021 Writing Contest. Previously wrote for The Herald in Rock Hill from 2019 to 22.

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