ThatsRacin

NASCAR night race at Bristol: What you need to know including team orders, slackers

Brad Keselowski wanted to get inside NASCAR officials’ heads with his comments last week about Toyota drivers sandbagging.
Brad Keselowski wanted to get inside NASCAR officials’ heads with his comments last week about Toyota drivers sandbagging. AP

What: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race

Distance: 500 laps, or 266.5 miles.

Where: Bristol Motor Speedway, a .533-mile, high-banked, oval in Bristol, Tenn.

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

TV: NBC.

Radio: PRN.

Last year’s winner: Kevin Harvick

Also this week: Food City 300, Xfinity Series, Bristol, 7:30 p.m., Friday, NBCSN. UNOH 200, Camping World Truck Series, Bristol, 8:30 p.m., Wednesday.

Worth mentioning: With three races left before the playoffs start, races will be closely watched for evidence of “team orders,” that is, teammates cutting each other breaks with the hopes of a driver outside of the postseason getting in. At Furniture Row Racing, points leader Martin Truex Jr. says there are no team orders and he would never let teammate Erik Jones win. “He’s going to win some races,” Truex says. “His turn will come.” … Brad Keselowski’s comments last week – that Toyota drivers were sandbagging because they thought if they kept going fast their cars would be inspected and NASCAR would force them to make changes – was an old-school move. He clearly wanted to plant a seed in NASCAR officials’ heads, and if he irked a few Toyota drivers along the way, that didn’t seem to bother him at all.

Who’s Hot/ Who’s Not

HOT

Chris Buescher: Three of his best five finishes have come in the last four weeks, including a season-high sixth at Michigan and ninth at Indy. He won’t make the playoffs without a win, and a win is unlikely. But his average finish this season is nearly six spots better than last year.

NOT

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: He hasn’t finished better than 14th since his win at Daytona in July. His two wins guarantee his spot in the postseason, but he won’t be a factor in the playoffs if he doesn’t find speed at intermediate tracks.

Matt Crossman

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