BRISTOL, Tenn. – Alex Bowman and Kyle Larson will each line up in the top five for Saturday night’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Bowman matched his qualifying effort from last weekend at Kansas Speedway as he will line up third (128.176 mph) in the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. He is one of five drivers - along with teammate William Byron - to open the playoffs with back-to-back top-10 finishes. The 29-year-old Tucson, Arizona, native finished fifth in this race last year.
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Larson will start fifth (127.911 mph) in the No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. He is the defending race winner at this track as he led 175 laps in last year’s event for his first Bristol Cup win. His 816 laps led around the .533-mile track are his second-most by track - Dover Motor Speedway is where the 30-year-old has led the most laps.
Byron will line up 16th in the No. 24 Acronis Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 in a race he placed third in last year. Chase Elliott is set to start 23rd in the No. 9 Hooters Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. While the Dawsonville, Georgia, native has come very close to a points-paying win at "The Last Great Colosseum," his only victory here came in the 2020 NASCAR All-Star Race.
Larson placed seventh in the combined group practice sessions. The driver, who had a three-year extension announced on Friday morning, was third on the 10 consecutive lap average board. Bowman was seventh on the 10-lap board.
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Aric Almirola, who is not in the playoffs, won the pole for the 500-lap event.
The race at the Tennessee track will be the third and final of the Round of 16. After this race, the playoff field will be cut down to 12 drivers. Entering this race, Byron (+48), Bowman (+30), Elliott (+28) and Larson (+27) are all above the cutoff line.
"I feel like racing yourself and making sure you have your own ducks in a row before you start racing other people is going to be vital to a successful 500 laps here tomorrow night," Elliott said in a media availability ahead of Friday’s on-track activity at Bristol when asked about his playoff position.
Hendrick Motorsports has won the last seven elimination races in the playoffs. In its history, the organization has won 12 of 32 elimination races and has scored a victory in at least one elimination race in each of the last four seasons.
With 55 short-track wins, the organization has the most all-time victories on that track type and 12 of those victories have come at Bristol. Jeff Gordon’s 17 wins are the most among the 14 drivers that have recorded a short-track victory for the organization.
The Bristol night race will get underway at 7:30 p.m. ET on USA Network as well as PRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).