UPDATE: Denny Hamlin won Saturday night’s NASCAR race at Bristol. Here are the final results and highlights.
What channel is the NASCAR race on today? What time does the NASCAR race start? These are the questions that plague race fans every Sunday – or in this case, Saturday night – when each Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race will be on either NBC or NBCSN for the second half of the 2019 season with differing start times.
As for Saturday night’s race at Bristol, the Cup Series’ second of two visits to the half-mile oval known as Thunder Valley, the channel that will broadcast the race is NBCSN. The start time for the race at Bristol is 7:30 p.m. ET.
The 7:30 p.m. ET start time is the fourth such start time for the Cup Series this season. As for the TV channel, the NASCAR Cup Series this weekend is on NBCSN for the seventh time this year. As part of NBC’s TV deal with NASCAR for the 2019 season, NBC was slated to show seven of the final 20 races of the season, with the other 13 scheduled to be shown on NBCSN.
Sunday’s race at Bristol, which will consist of three stages (125 laps, 125 laps and 250 laps), is the 25th race on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule (24th when not counting the All-Star Race). There are 13 races left this season, and just three races left before the playoffs.
Bristol Motor Speedway, which calls itself “The Last Great Colosseum,” might as well be a fish bowl of a race track with its high banking. The turns feature variable banking of 24-28 degrees, and the straights feature variable banking of 4-8 degrees. The result is the world’s fastest half-mile, and the notoriously tight racing is why the Bristol night race is one of the highlights on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule.
Below is all the info you need regarding how to watch Saturday night’s NASCAR race at Bristol.
Sunday’s 500-lap race at Bristol will be the seventh of 13 races this season to be shown on NBCSN. The network’s broadcast crew consists of Rick Allen, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte in the booth, with Marty Snider, Dave Burns, Kelli Stavast and Parker Kligerman reporting from pit road.
Earnhardt, however, is taking this weekend off, per NBC Sports. The former driver and his family were involved in a plane crash just outside of Bristol on Thursday when their jet slid off the runway upon landing. All five people on board the plane, including Earnhardt’s wife, his daughter and two pilots, survived the incident.
In addition to the TV coverage on NBCSN, Sunday’s race at Bristol is available via live stream through fuboTV. New fuboTV users can sign up with a seven-day free trial.
None of the other drivers want to hear it, especially since Kyle Busch has taken a commanding lead in the NASCAR Cup Series points standings, but the driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota should be considered the favorite this weekend at Bristol.
Among those in the field, Busch has the best driver rating (101.9) at this track. The winningest active driver at Bristol, Busch has won three of the last four races at Thunder Valley. With one more victory, he will tie Cale Yarborough, Dale Earnhardt and Rusty Wallace for second all-time in Cup Series Bristol wins with nine. Darrell Waltrip holds the record with 12 Bristol wins.
“I remember watching when I was a kid – I wasn’t there racing, yet – watching (brother) Kurt win his first race at Bristol and then having the epic battle with Jimmy Spencer there,” Busch said this week. “That was a lot of fun to watch and see how Kurt was able to get his first win there and, of course, the years that I’ve been able to put cars in victory lane or wishing I could go back and get a few more of those wins that I missed out on – I’d have a heck of a lot more than just eight.”
Of the four drivers who are battling for the last two playoff spots with three races remaining in the regular season, only Jimmie Johnson has won at Bristol (twice). Only 22 points separate Ryan Newman (15th), Clint Bowyer (16th), Daniel Suarez (17th) and Johnson (18th) in the standings.
That could make for some aggressive driving if any of these four find themselves battling each other for position Saturday night, especially late in the race. After this weekend, Darlington and Indianapolis are the last two races of the regular season.
Because of the nature of those tracks compared to the tight racing at Bristol, this race could be the last chance for one of the drivers hovering around the playoff cut line to make his way into the postseason using his bumper.