According to DraftKings, Denny Hamlin leads the way with 13-2 odds. He has two previous wins at Bristol Motor Speedway, and he is fresh off a second-place finish at Kansas Speedway. Hamlin also has top-10 finishes in 48.4% of his 31 career starts at the short track.
While JGR leads the way in the odds, there are two Hendrick Motorsports drivers with favorable odds. Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott both enter the weekend at 15-2 as they each pursue a secure spot in the Round of 12. JGR drivers Kyle Busch and Christopher Bell round out the top five at 8-1 odds.
Bell sits in the best spot of the playoff drivers entering the Bristol elimination race. He is the only one that has secured his spot in the Round of 12. He clinched on points during the trip to Kansas Speedway, which eased some concern heading to Tennessee.
A Past Champion Can Make a Comeback
One of the biggest questions heading toward Bristol Motor Speedway focuses on Kevin Harvick. People want to know if the 2014 Cup Series champion can rebound from a fire at Darlington Raceway and a crash at Kansas Speedway that dropped him to 35 points below the cutline.
According to DraftKings, Harvick has favorable odds to win and punch his ticket to the Round of 12. He enters the weekend at 9-1, placing him sixth on the leaderboard and just behind Busch and Bell.
Harvick has performed well at Bristol during his Cup Series career. He has three wins, as well as top-10 finishes in 51.2% of his starts at the short track. Harvick nearly secured his fourth Cup Series win at Bristol during the 2021 playoffs, but Chase Elliott held him up with some aggressive blocking and opened the door for Kyle Larson to take the lead and race to the win.
Harvick will have another opportunity to add his fourth career win at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday, September 17. Though he will have extra stress considering he sits in a must-win situation.
Multiple Cup Series Drivers Can Clinch Early
While Harvick is in a must-win situation, there are other drivers that can quickly clinch their spots in the next round. This list includes William Byron and Denny Hamlin, who both only need six points. They could clinch early in the playoff race by securing some stage points.
The list also includes Joey Logano, who needs 13 points, and Ryan Blaney, who only needs 18 points). Both Team Penske drivers are in a solid position heading toward Bristol, and they are just ahead of Hendrick Motorsports driver Alex Bowman, who only needs 23 points to clinch.
Byron and Hamlin are in the best positions entering the elimination weekend, but six other drivers join Harvick on the list of those needing some help. Chase Briscoe is also in a must-win situation while Austin Dillon needs to secure 54 points to clinch. Kyle Busch needs 53 points, Austin Cindric needs 52, Tyler Reddick needs 51, and Daniel Suarez needs 48.
This points deficit is a sizable obstacle, but it is possible to overcome, especially if multiple playoff drivers deal with more on-track issues. Though these drivers in the hunt will have to maximize stage points whenever possible.
For example, there were two drivers that finished the trip to Kansas with more than 50 points. Bubba Wallace had 53 after winning while Christopher Bell also had 53 after finishing third and winning one stage.