5 things to watch for: Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway

There are just three races left until the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoffs begins, which means that points are at a premium beginning tonight at Bristol Motor Speedway. The track is just half a mile but always provides as much entertainment as 2-mile tracks.


Next Race: Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race
The Place: Bristol Motor Speedway
The Date: Saturday, August 19
The Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBC, 7 p.m. ET
Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 266.5 miles (500 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 125),
Stage 2 (Ends on lap 250), Final Stage (Ends on lap 500)

Three's a crowd for Larson

Kyle Larson is coming into the race red hot, as he won the Pure Michigan 400 last week for the third consecutive time, including both races held there this season. Overall this season, Larson has three wins and has accumulated 18 playoff points, second in the series only to Martin Truex Jr.'s 35 playoff points. In his career at Bristol, Larson has three top-10 finishes and an average finish of 19.3 in seven starts.

Truex sits in the driver's seat

Truex Jr. has the chance tonight to lock up the regular season title, which brings with it 15 playoff points. All that he has to do is leave Bristol with a 121 point lead over second place and he secures the regular season championship. He currently leads second-place Larson by 129 points. 

Crunch time

With just three races left before the playoffs begin, drivers who don't have a win yet this season are in a crunch, as time is running out for them to pick up a win. Among those who are winless this season are Clint Bowyer and Joey Logano, who can only make the playoffs with a win in the next three races. Logano does have two wins at Bristol and has recorded top-10 finishes in each of his last four finishes at the track. 

Bubble Boy

Matt Kenseth is currently the driver who is sitting on the bubble for the playoffs, as he holds the final playoff spot for drivers without wins. The easiest way for him to clinch a playoff spot is to win one of the next three races, but he is in a fairly good position to make it on points, so long as there are no first-time winners in the next three races. At Bristol, Kenseth has four wins, 14 top-five finishes, and 21 top-10 finishes in 35 career starts.

Chasing a win

Chase Elliott is in seventh place in the standings, sitting a healthy 62 points ahead of the cut line, but he is still searching for his first win not only of the season but of his career. If he is able to qualify for the playoffs, it would be his second consecutive berth, which is pretty good considering that he has been racing full time for just two years. He only has three starts at Bristol, but in those three starts, he has a top-five finish and two top-10 finishes, meaning that things could be looking up for Elliott.

Looking Ahead

Next week, the series will head to Darlington, South Carolina for the Bojangles Southern 500. The green flag is scheduled to drop on that race on September 3 at 6 p.m. ET. 

Weather report

On Saturday night, the weather is predicted to be 83 degrees with a slight chance of showers/thunderstorms. The Camping World Truck Series race on Wednesday was delayed slightly due to weather, but it was run in its entirety.