The opening round of the Cup Series playoffs comes to an end Saturday night under the lights at Bristol Motor Speedway (USA Network).
Kyle Larson has a secure spot in the Round of 12 after winning at Darlington. Tyler Reddick has a secure spot after winning at Kansas. Ten other drivers will move on after taking the checkered flag at Bristol. Four will see their championship dreams come to an end.
Ford has won four of the past seven races at Bristol with four different drivers. Chris Buescher, who is 13 points above the cutline, is the defending winner. Kyle Larson won for Chevrolet in 2021. Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin swept the 2019 season for Toyota.
Busch has the most Bristol wins among active Cup drivers with eight. Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick are tied for second with three wins each. Hamlin and Joey Logano have two Bristol wins while Larson and Buescher have one each.
Details for Saturday’s race at Bristol
(All times Eastern)
START: The command to start engines will be given at 7:39 p.m. … The green flag is scheduled to wave at 7:48 p.m.
PRERACE: Cup garage opens at 3:30 p.m. … Drivers meeting is at 6:45 p.m. … Driver introductions are at 7 p.m. … the invocation will be given at 7:31 p.m. … MRO Kids will perform the national anthem at 7:32 p.m.
DISTANCE: The race is 500 laps (266.5 miles) on the .533-mile paved track.
STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 125. Stage 2 ends at Lap 250.
STARTING LINEUP: Qualifying is set for Friday at 5:20 p.m. on USA and NBC Sports App.
TV/RADIO: USA Network will broadcast the race at 7:30 p.m. … Countdown to Green will begin at 7 p.m. on USA. … Post-race show will be on Peacock. … Performance Racing Network coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. … SiriusXM NASCAR Radio coverage begins at 7:30 p.m.
STREAMING: NBC Sports App
FORECAST: Weather Underground — Partly cloudy skies with a slight chance of rain showers. High of 70 degrees and a 16% chance of rain at the start of the Cup Series race.
LAST TIME: Aric Almirola started from the pole and led 36 laps. He finished 28th after a mechanical issue. Brad Keselowski led 109 laps, won stage 1 and finished ninth after having to pit for a flat tire. Christopher Bell led 143 laps, won stage 2 and finished fourth after recovering from a lost wheel. Chris Buescher won after leading 169 laps, including the final 61.
Four playoff drivers — Alex Bowman, Austin Dillon, Joey Logano and Kyle Busch — failed to finish last year’s race due to crashes and mechanical issues. Four others — Ryan Blaney, Tyler Reddick, Daniel Suarez and Austin Cindric — finished outside of the top 10 and multiple laps behind the leaders.
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