Fans of stock car racing have a stacked schedule ahead of them. All three national NASCAR series, as well as ARCA Menards, will be in action at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sept. 16-18. Here are the start times and the important starting orders.
The racing action will actually start earlier than expected with a doubleheader on Thursday, Sept. 16. The ARCA Menards Series will kick off the action at 6:30 p.m. ET (FS1) with a 200-lap race that will determine the East champion and play a major role in the overall ARCA Menards Series battle between Ty Gibbs and Corey Heim.
The Camping World Truck Series will cap off Thursday with the third playoff race of the opening round. The 200-lap event will take place at 9 p.m. ET on FS1 as Sheldon Creed aims to sweep the opening round after previously winning races at Gateway Motorsports Park and Darlington Raceway. Creed will start the race at the front of the pack with John Hunter Nemechek next to him on the first row.
While FS1 will broadcast the races on Thursday, Sept. 16, NBC Sports Network will take over for Friday and Saturday. The Xfinity Series regular-season finale will kick off the weekend on Friday, Sept. 17, at 7:30 p.m. ET as the drivers fight over 300 laps for the final spots in the playoff field.
The Cup Series Playoff Race Will Headline the Weekend
The biggest event of the weekend, of course, will be the final Round of 16 Cup Series playoff race. Four drivers will face elimination during the 500-lap race at Bristol Motor Speedway as NASCAR cuts the field to 12 drivers. The race will take place under the lights, creating even more of a spectacle for the viewers in the stands and at home.
The race will take place on Saturday, Sept. 18, at 7:30 p.m. ET. Like the Xfinity Series race before it, NBC Sports will provide coverage as Alex Bowman, Tyler Reddick, William Byron, and Michael McDowell try to jump above the cut line.
Joe Gibbs Racing teammates will have an early advantage in the race after starting on the front row. Richmond winner Martin Truex Jr. will have the pole position while Darlington winner Denny Hamlin will join him as they lead the field to the green flag.
The rest of the playoff drivers will line up at the front of the pack as they fight for points and a secure spot in the Round of 12. Joey Logano and Chase Elliott will make up row two while Kyle Larson and Christopher Bell will fight for position from row three.
The lineup continues with Ryan Blaney and Kevin Harvick on row four; Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski on row five; and Alex Bowman and Aric Almirola on row six. Reddick, Byron, Kurt Busch, and McDowell will round out the top 16.
Noah Gragson’s Winning Streak Leads to Pole Position
The driver of the No. 9 JR Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro has won the past two Xfinity Series races — Darlington and Richmond — to secure his spot in the playoffs. Now he will lead the field to the green flag on Friday, Sept. 17. Gragson will start from the pole with teammate Justin Allgaier next to him while Ty Gibbs and Daniel Hemric make up row two.
Unlike the Truck and Cup Series races, the Xfinity Series has yet to start the playoffs. The drivers have one more opportunity to fight for a spot in the chase for the championship trophy. This schedule means that some playoff drivers will start outside of the top-10. For example, Myatt Snider will begin the race on the ninth row next to Josh Williams.
The biggest battle of the Xfinity Series will continue on Friday as Austin Cindric and AJ Allmendinger fight for the regular-season points championship. Allmendinger currently has a five-point lead, and he will try to maintain it while lining up next to Cindric on the fifth row.