At a track as unpredictable as Bristol, the only thing guaranteed this weekend is four drivers will be eliminated from the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.
Tensions are high, the point standings are tight, and once the stadium lights illuminate the ‘World’s Fastest Half-Mile’ expect nothing less than the greatest stock car drivers in the universe to battle it out in spectacular fashion in the Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, this Saturday, Sept. 17 at 7:30 p.m. ET on USA, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
With this weekend’s highly anticipated event serving as the elimination race for the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Round of 16, a lot is on the line for the postseason contenders. Two Playoff drivers have locked themselves into the Round of 12 by virtue of their wins in the first two races of the Round of 16 – Hendrick Motorsports’ Kyle Larson (Darlington) and 23XI Racing’s Tyler Reddick – leaving 10 spots still up for grabs on Saturday.
The 2023 season marks the fourth-time Bristol Motor Speedway has hosted the third race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs and this Saturday’s race is just the fourth Cup Series postseason event at the 0.533-mile track all-time (2020-2023).
From 2004-2019, Bristol Motor Speedway was scheduled as the 24th race of the regular season. Bristol Motor Speedway is the fifth different track in NASCAR Cup Series postseason history to host the third race of the Playoffs; joining Talladega Superspeedway (2004-2005), Kansas Speedway (2006–2010), Dover Motor Speedway (2011-2017) and the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL (2018-2019).
A total of 15 different drivers have won the third race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs (2004-2021), led by Jimmie Johnson (2008, 2013), Greg Biffle (2007, 2010), Tony Stewart (2006, 2009) and Kevin Harvick (2015, 2020) with two wins each.
In total, non-Playoff drivers have won the third race in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs four times – twice at Kansas (Tony Stewart was 11th in points in 2006 and Greg Biffle was 14th in points in 2007), once at Talladega (Dale Jarrett was 14th in points in 2005), and once at Bristol Motor Speedway (Chris Buescher was 21st in points in 2022).
A non-Playoff driver has not won a Playoff race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course (2018-2019) or at Dover Motor Speedway (2011 – 2017) when they were scheduled as the third race in the Playoffs.