NASCAR Starting Lineup for Saturday's Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway

Denny Hamlin earns his first pole of 2019

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series tackles Thunder Valley in Tennessee this weekend with the annual August night race at Bristol Motor Speedway. The half-mile oval boasts the quickest lap times on the circuit, drivers making a lap in under 15 seconds with average speeds approaching 130 miles an hour. It leaves you little margin for error as a simple short track bump could wipe out half-a-dozen cars or more in a matter of seconds.

 

The sport's high-horsepower handling package is in effect but it didn't bring us close to track record speeds. Denny Hamlin took the pole with an average speed of 129.230 MPH, over two MPH slower than Chase Elliott’s pole-winning run back in the spring.

 

Short tracks tend to even the playing field among the sport's top teams and this weekend is no different. Two Toyotas, two Chevrolets and a Ford round out the top five qualifiers while underdogs like Matt DiBenedetto cracked the top 10. Overall, the difference in lap times between first and last on the grid (39th) is less than one second per lap.

 

Only 39 cars and three unchartered teams showed up to qualify this weekend. That left all drivers guaranteed to make the race and one open spot left on the 40-car grid.

 

1. Denny Hamlin

2. Kyle Larson

3. Martin Truex Jr.

4. Kurt Busch

5. Aric Almirola

6. Chase Elliott

7. Matt DiBenedetto

8. Kevin Harvick

9. Erik Jones

10. Alex Bowman

11. Joey Logano

12. Ryan Blaney

13. Brad Keselowski

14. Ryan Newman

15. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

16. David Ragan

17. Daniel Hemric

18. Daniel Suarez

19. Austin Dillon

20. Clint Bowyer

21. William Byron

22. Bubba Wallace

23. Ryan Preece

24. Ty Dillon

25. Paul Menard

26. Corey Lajoie

27. Matt Tifft

28. Michael McDowell

29. Chris Buescher

30. Jimmie Johnson

31. Kyle Busch

32. Landon Cassill (i)

33. BJ McLeod (i)

34. Quin Houff

35. Josh Bilicki (i)

36. JJ Yeley

37. Reed Sorenson

38. Kyle Weatherman (i)

39. Ross Chastain (i)

 

(i) - Ineligible to collect Cup Series points

 

Failed To Qualify

None

 

QUALIFYING NOTES

  • Hamlin earned the first pole of his 2019 season, 31st of his career and fourth at Bristol Motor Speedway. His average start of 10.2 heading into this weekend is third best in Cup behind Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano.
  • Kyle Larson (2nd) was the highest-qualifying Chevrolet. It's his best start on an oval track this season (Larson won the pole for the road course at Sonoma back in June).
  • Martin Truex Jr. (3rd) earned his best starting spot since the 2018 Homestead season finale.
  • Aric Almirola (5th) was the fastest Ford in qualifying. It ties the best starting spot of his career at Bristol (21 starts).
  • Matt DiBenedetto (7th) tied the best qualifying effort of his career (New Hampshire, July).
  • Daniel Hemric (17th) was the fastest rookie in the field.
  • Chase Briscoe practiced for Matt Tifft (27th) after Tifft experienced vertigo inside his race car. Tifft still plans to start the race on Saturday night.
  • Kyle Busch (31st) tied his worst qualifying effort of the season (Daytona 500).
  • B.J. McLeod (33rd) will start his first Cup race for Rick Ware Racing since Pocono Raceway last month.
  • Josh Bilicki (35th) is back with Rick Ware Racing for his fifth Cup start of the season.
  • JJ Yeley (36th) is debuting a new fourth team for Rick Ware Racing this week. The No. 54 Ford was initially sponsored by a rock band, Slayer, but has picked up last-minute backing from PODS instead.
  • Kyle Weatherman (38th) replaces Bayley Currey behind the wheel of Rick Ware Racing's No. 52. Currey failed a NASCAR mandated drug test and was ejected from Bristol Motor Speedway earlier this week.

 

NASCAR RACE BREAKDOWN

Race: Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race

Track: Bristol Motor Speedway (Bristol, Tenn.)

Date: Saturday, Aug. 17

Time: 7:30 p.m. ET

TV: NBCSN

Radio: PRN, SIRIUS XM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 500 laps (266.5 miles)

Stage 1: 125 Laps

Stage 2: 125 Laps

Final Stage: 250 Laps

 

PRE-BRISTOL NEWS

Landon Cassill stops by to chat about his season driving for an underdog team, Starcom Racing, in the Cup Series before Mike Neff and Dustin Albino hop on to preview Bristol on the weekly Frontstretch podcast.

 

Event Date: 
Saturday, August 17, 2019 - 19:30
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