The Bristol Night Race holds promise for those outside of the provisional playoff grid, but itâs also a place of opportunity for those winless drivers in the inner postseason circle to lock in with a victory and eliminate the guesswork.
Just three races remain in the Monster Energy Series regular season, starting with Saturday nightâs annual night race (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN/NBC Sports App, PRN, SiriusXM). Several familiar faces and plucky underdogs still have yet to win this year. What better place to snap that skid than at Bristol, with the privilege of brandishing the trackâs trademark coliseum sword in Victory Lane.
RELATED: Full Bristol schedule
Several candidates stand out as likely suspects for changing their win column zero to a one on Saturday night. NASCAR.comâs Zack Albert and Terrin Waack size up their favorites:
ZA: Hereâs a vote for Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who heads to one of his best tracks this side of Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway with an opportunity to launch a last-ditch playoff bid. The track has produced four top-five finishes during Stenhouseâs career, second only to Talladega in his portfolio. Those stats include a brush with victory in Bristolâs night race in 2016, when he came home as the tough-luck runner-up.
The Roush Fenway Racing driver said last weekend, âBristol is by far the one that we circle.â If the extra emphasis, the short-track savvy and a small dose of luck all line up, Stenhouse has the inside line on playing a postseason spoiler.
TW: Putting all the eggs in William Byronâs basket. As the series continues to return to tracks it hit up earlier in the season, Byron continues to better his marks at each of them. The No. 24 improved 19 spots (21st to second) between his first and second stops at Daytona. Byronâs latter run at Pocono Raceway was five spots better than his previous (ninth to fourth). This past weekend at Michigan then saw Byron finish eighth, which is 10 spots better than his June showing (18th).
Byron was 16th at Bristol back in the spring. First will be a big jump. Go get that checkered flag, kid.