CONCORD, N.C.— This weekend, Hendrick Motorsports is headed to the ‘World’s Fastest Half-Mile’ track at Bristol Motor Speedway for the second time in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.
The final off-weekend of the season is officially over and racing returns under the lights at the 0.533-mile oval track.
“Hopefully everyone is well-rested after the off-weekend,” Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet SS, said. “I’m looking forward to seeing the track surface changes in the lower groove this weekend at Bristol. We had a great car back in the spring -- the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevy was really comfortable. Either way, its always an exciting race for the fans.”
Before you tune in to see where the four drivers finish at the Tennessee track, check out some key notes to keep an eye on during this weekend’s race in Tennessee.
BROADCAST INFORMATION: Saturday’s race will air live on NBC Sports Network at 8:00 p.m. ET. Can’t make it to the television? Listen to the race live on PRN and SiriusXM to catch the radio coverage. Here is the full broadcast schedule:
Friday, August 19:
10 a.m. ET: Sprint Cup Series Practice, NBC Sports App
12:30 p.m. ET: Sprint Cup Series Final Practice, NBC Sports App
1:00 p.m. ET: Sprint Cup Series Final Practice, USA
Saturday, August 20:
8:00 p.m. ET: Sprint Cup Series Race, NBC Sports Network
THIS WEEK’S PAINT SCHEMES: Longtime Hendrick Motorsports partner AARP and its Drive to End Hunger program will adorn Kasey Kahne’s No. 5 Chevrolet SS and Chase Elliott is Bristol-bound in his NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet SS this weekend. The black-and-white colors of Kobalt Tools will adorn Johnson’s Chevrolet and Jeff Gordon will drive the No. 88 Axalta Chevrolet SS under the lights at Bristol Motor Speedway.
HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS AT BRISTOL: At Bristol Motor Speedway, Hendrick Motorsports has 10 wins, 11 pole positions, 54 top-five finishes and 96 top-10s. Kahne most recently won there for the organization in March 2013.
BRISTOL STATS: Kahne took the checkered flag at the 0.533-mile track in his March 2013 start after leading 109 laps and taking the green flag from the outside pole position. The Enumclaw, Washington, native has 13 top-10 starts at the track, including one pole award in 2007, when he went on to lead 305 laps and finished second in the 500-lap event. Kahne’s second runner-up finish came in the August 2013 race.
BRISTOL BOUND: The rookie returns to the "Last Great Colosseum" after a positive showing at the track in the spring. Elliott, at the time, captured a career-best fourth-place finish after starting from the back half of the field and rebounding from going two laps down due to a loose right-rear wheel. It marked Elliott's second top-five finish of the season to that point.
BRISTOL DRIVER RATING: According to NASCAR's loop data statistics, Johnson has the ninth-best driver rating at Bristol with a score of 92.2 during the past 10 years at the track. The driver rating is a formula that combines wins, top-15 finishes, average running position while on the lead lap, average speed under green, fastest lap, most laps led and lead-lap finishes. The maximum a driver can earn in each race is 150 points. The driver rating number is used pre-race as a prediction tool and post-race as a performance evaluator.
NEW FRONT-TIRE CHANGER: Kevin Novak, a native of Veseli, Minnesota, and graduate of the NASCAR Technical Institute, will replace longtime front-tire changer Cam Waugh. Waugh is moving back to his home state of Colorado. Novak is no stranger to the No. 48 over-the-wall crew as he filled in for an injured Waugh on May 15 at Dover, May 21 at the Charlotte all-star event and June 6 at Pocono.
EARNHARDT STILL RECOVERING: Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet SS for Hendrick Motorsports, will miss his fifth consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event as he continues to recover from a concussion. He was not cleared by physicians to compete in this weekend’s event at Bristol Motor Speedway. Another update will be provided by Hendrick Motorsports next week.
CARRYING THE FLAG: Four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Gordon will continue to drive the No. 88 Chevrolet SS for the fourth race in a row. Gordon, who filled in for Earnhardt at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (July 24), Pocono Raceway (Aug. 1), and Watkins Glen International (Aug. 7) with an average finish of 18th, will lead the No. 88 team into battle at the “Last Great Colosseum” in Saturday night’s event.
FIVE-TIME VICTOR: Gordon has earned five victories at the 0.533-mile short track, placing him in a three-way tie for first among active drivers with Kurt Busch and Kyle Busch. The 45-year-old driver, who made his 800th career NASCAR Cup Series start on Aug. 7, also has five poles, the most of any active driver, and has finished in the top five in 37 percent of the races he’s run at the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile.” His 17 top-five finishes and 25 top-10s are the most of any active driver at the track. He also leads active drivers in laps completed (22,025) and laps led (2,730). His 30 lead-lap finishes are the most of any driver all-time at Bristol.