Kevin Harvick – Kevin Harvick will be tough to beat at Bristol. He’s a recent winner who has five straight top 8’s. Over the last five races among drivers who competed in every event he has the best average finish (4.2), best average running position and the best driver rating. Last summer he had a solid showing. He finished 8th, earned the 5th best driver rating and had a 10th place average running position. Last spring Harvick ran well and had a strong performance. When the checkered flag waved he finished 3rd, earned the 5th best driver rating and led 14 laps. In summer 2016 he had a great car and was dominant over the last quarter of the race. In addition to winning he earned the best driver rating, had a 6th place average running position and led 128 laps. In spring 2016 he finished 7th, earned the 2nd best driver rating, had a 4th place average running position and led 13 laps. Strength wise he had the 2nd best car. In August 2015 he was very strong and likely had the best car at the end. He finished 2nd and earned the 6th best driver rating. His result is even more impressive when you take note he had to overcome two speeding penalties. In spring 2015 he had a great car but was involved in a wreck while running in 3rd.
Kyle Busch – Kyle Busch is an elite performer at Bristol, but he carries a good amount of risk. In 5 of the last 7 races at Thunder Valley he’s finished 29th or worse. “Performance Wise” he’s often been the driver to beat but he’s had a tough time having incident free races. On Sunday if he has an incident free race I would look for him to be a top five contender who has a great chance to win. Last summer he was the class of the field and raced his way to victory lane. In addition to winning he earned the 2nd best driver rating, had a 3rd place average running position and led 156 laps. Additionally it should be noted he won Stage #1 and probably would’ve won Stage #2 if there wasn’t a late caution in that segment that allowed others to use pit strategy. In that race Kyle Busch started 18th, prior to the race he said he races his best here when he qualifies poorly. Last spring he was a high-single digits driver but he had multiple cut tires. His first cut tire on lap 211 happened when he was running in 12th which led to him getting into the wall hard. He rallied back but with 116 laps to go he got into the wall again while running in the top ten and that marked the end of his race leading to his 35th place finish. In summer 2016 he led over half the race (256 laps) and had the dominant car but his track bar broke on lap 358 and that led to him wrecking (finished 38th). In spring 2016 he had top five potential but he got into the wall a few times and was also spun.
Kyle Larson – Kyle Larson should be on your short list of favorites at Bristol. On Sunday I would look for him to be a top five contender and compete for the win. He runs extremely well here and he’s knocked on the door to victory lane in the past. Last fall at Bristol Larson had a strong showing. He earned the 3rd best driver rating, had a 5th place average running position, finished 9th and led 70 laps. Additionally he finished 3rd in Stage #1 and 6th in Stage #2. Last spring he was phenomenal. In that race he started on the pole, led a race high 202 laps, had a 4th place average running position and finished 6th. At the start of the race his car was in a league of it’s own but it appeared his team didn’t keep up with adjustments. In the three Bristol races prior to that he had top five potential but walked away with misleading results. In summer 2016 he had a great car and had to work his way to the front multiple times. He was caught speeding on pit road on lap 77 while running in 3rd, spun on lap 308 while running in 4th, but then he was later caught up in the Kyle Busch carnage while running in 6th which led to his 24th place finish. In spring 2016 he might’ve been top five good but his race wasn’t incident free. While he was running in 3rd on lap 147 his track bar broke which sent him to the garage and dropped him 37 laps down.