Last week at Michigan, Kevin Harvick drove another Ford to victory in the Irish Hills. The Blue Ovals have since put four together at that track, and seem to have a pretty good handle on it. Today the Cup boys head southeast to Bristol, TN, and the Last Great Colosseum.
Here’s what to look for:
–Denny Hamlin achieved Pole status at Bristol — and speaking of streaks, that’s the first Pole for Toyota in the 2019 season! Hamlin is a bit down the list as far as averages go, 13.8 for him, but has finished in the Top 15 his last six attempts. His best finish of 3rd has happened three consecutive times recently, too — at this “under the lights” edition — 2015 through 2017.
–Kyle Larson will start 2nd tonight, the same position his finished both races in 2018. Things didn’t go as planned in the Spring at the Food City 500 as the #42 came home 19th. This time he’ll look to get back to that podium lifestyle, and the four Top 10s he rattled off before that.
–Jimmie Johnson has struggled in recent years, but this place seems to be some sort of haven. Over his last ten starts, he’s averaging 7.4 and has finished out of the Top 11 just once. He won the 2017 Spring race, and finished 9th in this race last year. Tonight he’ll roll off 30th and has some work to do.
–Kurt Busch was the guy to beat here for a stretch of years, but so much of his success at this track came in the Spring session. Last year he took home the checkers and hopes to defend that trophy tonight. The #1 shoots from 4th when the lights go down in Bristol.
–Matt DiBenedetto announced this week that he won’t be back in the #95 next season. He had a really heartfelt message on his Twitter for fans, and still hopes to be competitive in the future, and get Leavine Family Racing their first Win on the way out. Could that happen tonight? He was strong in Practice, strong in Qualifying (7th), came home 6th in the 2016 Food City 500, and led the most laps in this year’s Daytona 500. Wouldn’t tonight be the perfect capstone on a torrential week?
Coverage of the race starts on NBCSN at 7:30pm, green flag scheduled for 7:46pm.