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Track Talk: Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway

Can Kyle Larson score his first Cup win at Bristol tonight?

Can Kyle Larson score his first Cup win at Bristol tonight?

Each weekend, our panel provides their thoughts on the latest stories in NASCAR while predicting the winner of the Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, the upcoming Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race!

This weekend, our panelists Adam LucasAshley Hobbs, Ashley Hull, Christina Bowman, Cody ShoppeJose Acero JrKathleen CassidyKatie Copple mull over Kevin Harvick’s stellar season and if we’ll see some of the old Bristol racing action tonight!

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Question 1
Kevin Harvick celebrated his seventh win of 2018 with a special passenger after the race! (Photo Credit: Kathleen Cassidy/TPF)

Kevin Harvick celebrated his seventh win of 2018 with a special passenger after the race! (Photo Credit: Kathleen Cassidy/TPF)

Kevin Harvick is having a season for the ages in 2018 with seven wins after 23 races.  When considering some of the best regular seasons since the advent of the playoffs in 2004, where does Harvick’s dominant performance rank at the moment?

Acero :  Harvick is dominating like Jimmie did during his 7 title runs winning multiple times per season. I would put them side by side as far rankings go.

Bowman :  It’s been over a decade since we have seen someone dominate a season like this. Jimmie Johnson is the only other one that I can think of. Without knowing how this season will end, I would say that the two are neck and neck for rank.

Cassidy :  Although the season is not done yet, it is safe to say 23 races in Kevin Harvick is dominating. However, there are past seasons where fans have seen drivers win numerous races, but not the title. Only time will tell.

Copple :  There aren’t many drivers who have had dominant seasons as of late. Especially not to this caliber.  And the season isn’t done yet! One that comes to mind is Jimmie Johnson’s dominant season in 2007. He won 10 races that year on his way to his 2nd of 5 straight titles. He also had dominant seasons in 2004 (8 wins) and 2008 and 2009 (7 wins).

If you want to go back a bit further, Jeff Gordon also had dominant seasons in 1998 with 13 wins and 1996-’97 where he had 10 each of those years. It’s not unheard of for a driver to dominate a season… it just hasn’t been done in a while.

Hobbs : It is not easy to dominate; let alone dominate with another driver, or two. This speaks volumes to the talent that not only Kevin Harvick has this season, but Kyle Busch also belongs with Harvick in this conversation. The two of them have won over half the races this season. If these two are not battling for the checkered flag at Homestead, it will be disappointing.  

Hull :  Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch are neck-in-neck as far as the dominance game goes. Harvick is clearly having the more dominant year. However, Busch is a step behind him. It will be interesting to see who ultimately comes out on top this year.

Lucas :  It’s mind boggling to see the shear dominance of the No. 4 team this season. I wouldn’t say it’s the greatest ever, but it would be in my top 5 seasons if he wins the championship. The most difficult part of his season is the other two dominate teams of Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. They too have multiple wins. One thing is for sure, we have not seen teams like this dominate for quite a while. Very impressive indeed.

Shoppe :  This is without a doubt one of the best regular seasons we have seen out of a driver in years! We haven’t given enough credit to this 4 team individually since we all have talked about the big three as a whole. It would appear as of now that Kevin Harvick has broken away as a favorite among these three juggernauts as a title favorite. Time will tell if this rare form can continue to Miami but my guess is it will if the pit crew gets their act together come playoff time!

Question 2
Might we see a driver like Alex Bowman apply the bumper to win tonight?

Might we see a driver like Alex Bowman apply the bumper to win tonight?

Some of the old Bristol that we knew and love was prevalent during the spring race.  Might we see some good ole short track racing in the night race, especially for those trying to earn a playoff berth?

Acero :  Old Bristol is back! We will get a surprise winner who sneaks his way into the playoffs and spoil the “big 3” party!

Bowman :  We better see some good ole short track racing! Bristol at night is one of the highlights of the season for me and it’s a great chance for drivers who like to wheel it around the shorter tracks. Honestly though, it would just make Bristol better if we saw a new driver clinch a playoff berth this weekend.

Cassidy :  Bristol never disappoints! Races can be unpredictable at this short track and this is part of the reason why drivers and fans love it. Keep an eye out for some unexpected drivers in the top spots!

Copple :  I love Bristol. And I really love Bristol at night. This is usually one of the most exciting races of the season and when you throw in track changes under the lights, I have a feeling we will be in for a good race come Saturday. Plus, we are getting to the end of the regular season, and some guys are still trying to race their way into the playoffs.

Hobbs :  I am pretty sure there are a few grudges left, and a few drivers who never forget. Bristol is known to bring out the best, or worst, in drivers and I hope we see drivers on the outside of the Playoffs look to ruffle some feathers for their shot at the Championship.

Hull :  Bristol is my favorite track for that very reason. There has not been many boring races at this track. I really hope that this new surface really delivers Saturday night.  

Lucas : “Getcha popcorn ready!” Bristol at night will bring the best and worst out of any driver, regardless of if it was the “old” surface or “new” surface. Drivers vying for the final playoff spot will have to treat this week as a wild card race. It could be one of the final chances a team outside of the top 16 gets to prove their worth.

Shoppe :  I sure hope so! I for one have not been a fan of the progressive banking at BMS. I always look for Bristol to be a race of aggression, drama, and hurt feelings! Last time out at Thunder Valley, we saw that old Bristol mentality again with Kyle and Kyle fighting it out for the win late in the going. I hope for another bump and run pass to get everyone talking about it at work on Monday like many did in the 90’s and early 2000’s!

That’s two lightning fast laps around Bristol!  Before making our move for the win, let’s review the weekend that was at Michigan!
A trio of panelists correctly chose Kevin Harvick at Michigan.

A trio of panelists correctly chose Kevin Harvick at Michigan.

Meanwhile, Katie Copple is making some tremendous progress in the points standings!

Meanwhile, Katie Copple is making some tremendous progress in the points standings!

Friends, it’s about time to talk about a potential winner tonight at Bristol!  Here’s our picks to win the Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway!
Can one of these quartet win tonight at Bristol Motor Speedway?

Can one of these quartet win tonight at Bristol Motor Speedway?

Tiongson :  Kevin Harvick has been so tough all season, I look for him to get his eighth win of the year, making life more difficult on the competition come playoff time.

Acero :   Daniel Suarez!

Cassidy :  No. 19!

Bowman :  I have to go with Erik Jones to win at Bristol.

Hull :  Erik Jones.

Lucas :  I met some of his buddies this week at work (the NASCAR Hall of Fame), and they told me that “that Jones boy” will be jonesing for another win this season. Erik Jones takes home the checkered flag with a nice giant bag of Food City groceries!

Copple :  Kyle Busch has won the last two Bristol races… and has been pretty dominant this season. He takes the win under the lights.

Hobbs :  Defending race winner and Bristol Motor Speedway earlier this year, Kyle Busch, will capture the flag again!

Shoppe :  Hard to pick anyone but Kyle Busch at Bristol.

TPF Stats :  Best average finish this season? Check. Most wins at Bristol Motor Speedway (of active drivers)? Check. Look for Kyle Busch to tie Kevin Harvick for most wins this season Saturday night.

That wraps this week’s preview, race fans!  Thanks for joining us for another edition of Track Talk!

We’re ready for some racing. How about you? What do you think are the biggest storylines heading into tonight’s race and who is your favorite to win?  Tweet us now @ThePodiumFinish and tell us now!

Thanks as always to the TPF team for their amazing efforts this week!  We hope to see you at the races.

The opinions and thoughts expressed in Track Talk are solely of the authors. They do not reflect any organizations affiliated with the participants and author outside of TPF. This weekly feature is strictly for entertainment purposes and are not indicative of TPF, the organization, and its staff.

Rob Tiongson is a 30-something motorsports journalist who enjoys sports like baseball, basketball, football, soccer, track and field and hockey. A Boston native turned Austinite, racing was the first sport that caught his eyes. From interviews to retrospective articles, if it's about anything with an engine and four wheels, it'll be here on TPF, by him or by one of his talented columnists who have a passion for racing. Currently seeking a sports writing, public relations, or sports marketing career, particularly in motorsports. He enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat. Tiongson, a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication, pursues his Master of Arts in Digital Journalism at St. Bonaventure University. Indeed, while Tiongson is proud to be from Massachusetts, he's an everywhere kind of man residing in Texas.

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