Everything you need to know for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Bristol, the first elimination event of the 2022 campaign.
Where: Bristol, Tennessee
Approximate start time: 7:30 p.m. ET | weekend hours
television/radio: USA, NBC Sports App, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio | Full television schedule
The bag: $8,338,394
Forecast: Mostly clear, with a low around 56 degrees, according to NOAA.gov | time tracker
Race distance: 500 laps | 266.5 miles
Stages: 125 | 250 | 500
Pit speed: 30mph
Caution car speed: 35mph
Bristol 101: get the whole truth
Starting lineup: Where drivers will start
Pit stalls: where the drivers will stop
Practice/Qualifying: Aric Almirola wins Busch Light Pole
Playoff grid: Print yours now
Key things to watch 🔑
Here it is. The first elimination race of the 2022 season. Four drivers will see their title hopes come to an end at the “Last Great Coliseum,” one of the most iconic tracks in NASCAR history. Two champions of the sport, Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick, sit below the cutoff line alongside Austin Dillon and Chase Briscoe. And coincidentally, Busch and Harvick are two of the most dominant active drivers on the 0.533-mile high-banked oval. On a night where 500 laps can seem like an eternity, it will likely come down to the final laps to determine which drivers advance to the round of 16. The key is to be there at the end. Easier said than done as the door-to-door battles ramp up near the end. Don’t be the first to leave.
Who shot? Who does not?
When Kevin Harvick won at Michigan International Speedway, the pressure was off the entire No. 4 team. Now, the pressure is back. The opening two races of the Round of 16 were not kind to Harvick, leaving him deep in the bottom of the playoff standings. But this is the deal. This is Bristol, where Harvick has been red hot for the past six seasons. Harvick has nine top-10 finishes, including two wins, in his last 12 starts at the Coliseum. He has led a total of 782 laps in his last 16. Not many have been better than ‘The Closer’ when it comes time to close. He needs a win and should be among the favorites to do it on Saturday night.
As successful as Chase Elliott has been at nearly every track, he has been fairly tame at Bristol by his standards. Elliott’s best career finish at the Tennessee track is third (2018), and while he has had five finishes of seventh or better in 11 starts here, he also has six finishes of 11th or worse. The 2022 Regular Season Champion entered the playoffs with extra points but accelerated momentum. Since Watkins Glen International, he has two finishes outside the top 28. Points may not be an issue going into the Round of 16, but perhaps Bristol can be a positive turning point in the No. 9 team’s quest for a second. championship.
drive under the radar
Brad Keselowski might not be the most popular pick to win Saturday, but he’s a good option. Keselowski has three wins at the track, albeit with Team Penske, and three top-six finishes in his last four races here. He just knows how to navigate the race track. All eyes will be on the playoff drivers, as expected, but as the first two races have shown, non-playoff drivers have just as much motivation to get to victory lane. A victory for Keselowski in his first season with RFK Racing would be a huge statement. He has the talent and ability to do it, clearly demonstrated by his 10th place in qualifying.
Race day essentials ✅
Our biggest pieces of the week: Get race day coverage from every angle.
• Bubble Watch, presented by Xfinity: Where drivers stop before Bristol | last driver standing
• Paint Scheme Preview: Colors for the Colosseum | choose a favorite
• Power Ratings: Alex Bowman, William Byron on the rise | Updated Driver Classifications
• NASCAR Betting: Odds for Saturday’s Bristol playoff race | Underdogs, value bets
• Fantasy Fast Track: Kevin Harvick needs to win at Bristol | Top plays, sleepers
• Rear seat drivers: Debating which driver will be eliminated on Saturday | watch the segment
Catch the pack 💨
Read the top headlines from the week leading up to Saturday’s race.
• Calendar 2023: See the latest list of the three national series | read more
•Kyle Busch: The two-time champion leaves JGR to join RCR in 2023 |read more
• Reactions: Toyota and JGR react to Busch announcement | read more
• Contract: Kyle Larson signs with Hendrick Motorsports through 2026 | read more
• Austin Dillon: Driver reveals contract extension for pit crew | Watch video
• Reddick steps in: No wonder Busch has 8 cars | read more
•Joey Logano: reacts to Kyle Busch heading to RCR, tells a similar story | listen in
• Tracking history: The history of NASCAR racing on unique tracks | Learn more
• Heading to Phoenix: Ty Majeski earns a ticket to Championship 4 with Thursday’s victory | career summary
Take action 💰
Think you know NASCAR? Test your mettle with games, fantasy.
• BetMGM: Breaking down the Bristol driver matchups | read more
• The Action Network: Should you pick Kyle Busch at Bristol? | matchmaking perspective
• Play it LIVE: Complete NASCAR Fantasy Live 2022 Game Guide | New rules for the playoffs
• Going all the way: 2022 Cup Series Championship Odds | see them here
Chaos at the Colosseum ⚔️
It gets wild in Bristol, especially after dark. Relive some of the most memorable moments in track history.
• You remember? Go back to some memorable moments in Bristol | revive them
• Photos on the track: Weekend scenes from the Bristol Night Race | see them here
• Last year: Kyle Larson fends off Kevin Harvick for the win | summary 2021
• Career Rewind: Bristol win for Larson, hot heads on pit road | See featured
Fast facts ⏩
Hard-hitting, race-relevant stats, brought to you by the experts at Racing Insights.
• There has never been a three-game playoff win streak by non-playoff drivers (currently at two).
• Christopher Bell is the only driver locked out of the round of 16 so far.
• The last time Ford won a playoff race was 16 races ago at Kansas in 2020 (Joey Logano).
• All four Hendrick Motorsports drivers have won on a short track in the last nine races.
• The driver who led the most laps won just one of the last nine races of 2022.
What what? 🎙
Notable quotes from sports stars ahead of Saturday’s race.
• “It feels absolutely fine. Man, what a ride to break through here in less than 15 seconds. It’s crazy how fast these cars are on this track, but I’m proud of my team, proud of everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing. They brought me a Ford Mustang BlueOval City very quickly. We were good in the race and obviously we had a lot of speed in qualifying so now we have to do it for 500 laps. — Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
• “We’re in a good position and definitely feel good about how we’re starting the playoffs from a speed standpoint. We still need to clean up a few things and execute better if we’re going to have a chance of making progress beyond this round, but I’m confident going to Bristol this weekend. It would be nice if we could qualify up front and stay there all night to give ourselves a chance to get more playoff points.” — Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, who qualified fourth
• “The addition of Kyle Busch to the Richard Childress Racing lineup is significant, not only for our organization, but for the sport as a whole. Kyle is a proven contender at the highest levels of the sport, and I believe his experience and dedication to motorsports will elevate our racing program across the board. I have always admired Kyle’s driving style and his ability to win and compete for championships since he entered the sport. Who wouldn’t want a proven NASCAR Cup Series champion driving his car? — Richard Childress, owner of Richard Childress Racing