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Busch brothers are drivers to beat at BMS

By Jeff Birchfield • Aug 17, 2019 at 2:00 PM

BRISTOL, Tenn. — History is on the side of the Busch brothers Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway.

The brothers have a combined 14 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victories around the high-banked, .533-mile oval, including wins in the last four Bristol races.

Kyle Busch is the obvious favorite in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race. He boasts eight wins overall, including the Food City 500 in April — when he beat older brother Kurt to the finish line. Kyle Busch has won three of the past four races, though Kurt’s win came in last year’s night race.

In addition, Kyle arrived at Bristol as the Cup Series points leader and tied with Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr. with four victories this season.

A win for Kyle Busch, the 2015 series champion, would be historic. He would pass Rusty Wallace, with whom he’s currently tied for ninth place on NASCAR’s all-time wins list with 55. Kyle also would pull into a tie with Cale Yarborough, Dale Earnhardt and Wallace for the second most all-time Cup wins at Bristol.

Kurt Busch won for the sixth time at Bristol last August, his first victory at the track since 2006.

A pair of the brothers’ teammates, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson, are other favorites.

Hamlin enters the race having earned four straight top-three finishes. He has three victories this season, including his second Daytona 500 win. Now, he has an opportunity at a second win in another marquee event after his 2012 night race victory.

Larson has to be the pick of those without a Bristol win. He has a pair of runner-up finishes and six top-10 showings in 11 Bristol races.

Team Penske battled Gibbs early in the season and former series champions Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski are former winners of the August Cup race.

Roger Penske is one of the most successful car owners in BMS history, tied with Rick Hendrick for 12 wins among car owners. Ford has more wins (37) at Bristol than any other NASCAR track.


Kevin Harvick, the Cup Series’ most recent winner, has two Bristol wins, including the 2016 night race. The 2014 series champion is a two-time winner this season and has 37 previous BMS starts, tied with Kurt Busch for the most among active drivers.

Seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson is trying to break a winless streak that dates to June 2017. He has two Bristol wins, both in the Food City 500. Johnson has won all the other major NASCAR races — the Daytona 500, Coca-Cola 600, Southern 500 and Brickyard 400 — leaving the Bass Pro Shops NRA Bristol Night Race as the one glaring omission in his Hall of Fame resume.

Johnson’s 83 career wins lead all active drivers as do his 21 top 10s at BMS.


Martin Truex Jr., the 2017 NASCAR champion, and Erik Jones are other strong contenders from the Gibbs camp. Each has a runner-up finish at Bristol. Truex has his four wins this season, but Jones is still looking to find victory lane in 2019.

Ryan Blaney, a teammate to Keselowski and Logano, is a former Bristol winner in the Xfinity Series He has led 379 laps over the past three Bristol races, including a race-high 158 in April’s Food City 500.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. could be the dark-horse pick. He has two second- place finishes at the high-banked oval and four top fives overall.

Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race Lineup

After Friday qualifying; race Saturday (7:30 p.m., NBC Sports)

1. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 129.230 mph.

2. (42) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 129.004.

3. (19) Martin Truex Jr, Toyota, 128.995.

4. (1) Kurt Busch, Chevrolet, 128.813.

5. (10) Aric Almirola, Ford, 128.770.

6. (9) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 128.580.

7. (95) Matt DiBenedetto, Toyota, 128.460.

8. (4) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 128.434.

9. (20) Erik Jones, Toyota, 128.391.

10. (88) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 128.236.

11. (22) Joey Logano, Ford, 128.125.

12. (12) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 128.082.

13. (2) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 127.946.

14. (6) Ryan Newman, Ford, 127.903.

15. (17) Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Ford, 127.682.

16. (38) David Ragan, Ford, 127.470.

17. (8) Daniel Hemric, Chevrolet, 127.208.

18. (41) Daniel Suarez, Ford, 127.174.

19. (3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 126.938.

20. (14) Clint Bowyer, Ford, 126.829.

21. (24) William Byron, Chevrolet, 126.520.

22. (43) Bubba Wallace, Chevrolet, 126.337.

23. (47) Ryan Preece, Chevrolet, 126.303.

24. (13) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 126.030.

25. (21) Paul Menard, Ford, 125.881.

26. (32) Corey Lajoie, Ford, 125.633.

27. (36) Matt Tifft, Ford, 125.617.

28. (34) Michael McDowell, Ford, 125.322.

29. (37) Chris Buescher, Chevrolet, 125.297.

30. (48) Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet, 125.158.

31. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 125.085.

32. (00) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 124.873.

33. (51) BJ McLeod, Chevrolet, 124.050.

34. (27) Quin Houff, Chevrolet, 123.166.

35. (53) Josh Bilicki, Chevrolet, 122.756.

36. (54) JJ Yeley, Ford, 121.968.

37. (77) Reed Sorenson, Chevrolet, 121.960.

38. (52) Kyle Weatherman, Chevrolet, 121.551.

39. (15) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 121.136.