The Round of 16 for the NASCAR Cup Series will be concluded at Bristol Motor Speedway Saturday evening.
The Tennessean half-mile speedway will not only serve as an opportunity for tightly-knit passing but as a way for playoff drivers to clinch one of the remaining nine spots still open for the Round of 12.
Brad Keselowski, who punched his ticket into the Round of 12 after winning at Richmond Raceway last weekend, will start on the pole. The 36-year-old for Team Penske won the regular-season race at Bristol earlier this season (May 31). In 21 career Cup Series starts at Bristol, he has picked up three wins, six top-five finishes and seven top-10 finishes. His average finish at the track is 16.5.
Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin are the other two drivers currently locked into the Round of 12. Harvick locked in his Round of 12 spot by winning at Darlington Raceway Sep. 6, while Hamlin locked in his bid via points. In 39 career starts at Thunder Valley, Harvick has picked up two wins, 12 top-five finishes and 19 top-10 finishes. His average finish at the track sits at 13.7. Hamlin, meanwhile, has picked up two wins, nine top-five finishes and 14 top-10 finishes in 29 Cup Series starts at the track. The 39-year-old’s average finish at the track is 14.4. Harvick and Hamlin will start fourth and seventh, respectively.
Chase Elliott, who won the All-Star Race at Bristol on July 15, will start sixth. Elliott currently holds the seventh position in the playoff standings and is 28 points ahead of the Round of 12 cutoff. Elliott has made nine starts at Bristol and has three top-five finishes and four top-10 finishes. His average finish at the track is 12.6.
William Byron, Cole Custer, Matt DiBenedetto and Ryan Blaney currently find themselves outside the Round of 12 cutoff. In the Bristol race earlier this season, the quartet finished eighth, 35th, 31st and 40th, respectively. All four drivers will need to improve should they wish to keep their playoff hopes alive heading into the next round. The four drivers will start the race outside of the top 10.
Stages for the race will end on lap 125, lap 250 and the finish on lap 500. TV coverage will begin on NBC Sports Network at 7:30 p.m. EST. The Performance Racing Network will provide radio coverage.
Pit stall assignments:
Goodyear tire notes: https://www.jayski.com/2020/09/16/goodyear-fast-facts-bristol-4/