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Bass Pro Shops Night Race Preview: NASCAR’s Playoffs End 1st Round at Bristol

Jay Arnold previews the final race of the first round of NASCAR’s playoffs – the Bass Pro Shops Night Race from Bristol.

image via @itsbristolbaby / Twitter

With Tyler Reddick’s thrilling pass to claim victory at Kansas Speedway, two drivers now find themselves locked into the second round of the playoffs heading into the Bass Pro Shops Night Race.

With 10 spots still up for grabs, let’s take a look at the current standings.

  1. Kyle Larson – Locked In
  2. Tyler Reddick – Locked In
  3. Denny Hamlin – 49 Points Above Cut Line
  4. William Byron – 41 Points Above Cut Line
  5. Brad Keselowski – 33 Points Above Cut Line
  6. Ryan Blaney – 25 Points Above Cut Line
  7. Kyle Busch – 24 Points Above Cut Line
  8. Ross Chastain – 18 Points Above Cut Line
  9. Chris Buescher – 13 Points Above Cut Line
  10. Christopher Bell – 13 Points Above Cut Line
  11. Joey Logano – 12 Points Above Cut Line
  12. Kevin Harvick – 7 Points Above Cut Line
  13. Martin Truex Jr. – 7 Points Below Cut Line
  14. Bubba Wallace – 19 Points Below Cut Line
  15. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – 22 Points Below Cut Line
  16. Michael McDowell – 40 Points Below Cut Line

The Playoff Picture Heading Into the Bass Pro Shops Bristol Night Race

All four of the drivers below the cut line are in serious danger of missing Round Two of the NASCAR playoffs. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Michael McDowell entered the playoffs as the two drivers I felt most likely to miss the second round. I haven’t seen anything to make me second guess either driver failing to advance.

While I projected Bubba Wallace to advance, he entered the playoffs in last place in the standings. Wallace ran extremely well at Kansas before suffering from a mechanical issue while running in 2nd place in Stage 2. Unfortunately, this puts Bubba behind the eight ball heading into a difficult race at Bristol. The last two races on the normal racing surface have seen Bubba finish no better than 16th. I don’t think Bubba recovers from his issues at Kansas – he’s likely out after Bristol.

Finally, the biggest surprise in the bottom four at the moment is Martin Truex Jr. The regular season champion came into the playoffs as almost a surefire pick to advance. Issues at Darlington and Kansas in back-to-back weeks have erased his point cushion. Now, MTJ needs a run at a track he’s struggled at in order to advance. Truex Jr. finished dead last in this race last season but I do expect the Joe Gibbs Racing driver to advance.

Kevin Harvick is the first driver above the cut line but the veteran nearly always runs well at Bristol. I expect him to perform with the season on the line and advance. Instead, I think Joey Logano will be the fourth driver who finds himself eliminated in the first round.

Check out the entry list for the Bass Pro Shops Bristol Night Race below.

Entry List

As for who takes the checkered flag at Bristol Saturday night, several drivers will likely be competitive on the World’s Fastest Half Mile.

Chris Buescher won this race last season and has been dynamite on short tracks this season, including a race win earlier at Richmond. The RFK driver likely finds himself near the front once again at Bristol.

Hendrick Motorsports drivers Kyle Larson and William Byron both have strong records at Bristol as well, with Larson going to Victory Lane back in 2021.

However, my pick for the winner on Saturday night is Brad Keselowski. The owner and driver for RFK Racing has run well at Bristol the past two night races and feels overdue for a win at this point. I’ve been impressed with the strides the organization has made but I think it’s time for Keselowski to put that #6 car back in Victory Lane for the first time in a long time.

Be sure to check out the schedule below as NASCAR has a full slate of racing for the weekend. Don’t miss any on-track action!

Thursday 09/14

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Qualifying – 3:35 p.m. CT on FS2

Bush’s Beans 200 (ARCA Menards Series) – 5:00 p.m. CT on FS1

UNOH 200 presented by Ohio Logistics (NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series) – 8:00 p.m. CT on FS1

Friday 09/15

NASCAR Xfinity Series Qualifying – 2:10 p.m. CT on USA

NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying – 4:20 p.m. CT on USA

Food City 300 (NASCAR Xfinity Series) – 6:30 p.m. CT on USA

Saturday 09/16

Bass Pro Shops Night Race (NASCAR Cup Series) – 6:30 p.m. CT on USA

Stay locked into Apollo for more NASCAR and F1 Coverage throughout racing season! Follow @CoachJayArnold and @ApolloHOU on Twitter to stay up to date on the latest!

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