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A few questions we had to ask ourselves

Will Kevin Harvick reach double figures in wins this season? GODSPEAK: “Happy Harvick” will double dip this season, there’s no doubt about it. KEN’S CALL: It’s very easy to sit here, get all caught up in the moment and say yes. But I’m saying he gets to nine and stalls.

If one of the ‘Big 3’ doesn’t win Bristol, who do you like? GODSPEAK: I’m getting the upset vibe out of Thunder Valley. I’m going with Ryan Newman to shake things up. KEN’S CALL: I think we’re getting near the time when guys start racing for their contractual futures, so I’ll say Jamie McMurray.


MARTIN TRUEX JR. VS. WILLIAM BYRON: Byron tried a dive-bomb pass on Truex in Turn 2 on Lap 16 and failed. Byron’s No. 24 Chevy and Truex’s No. 78 Toyota went spinning off the course. GODWIN KELLY’S TAKE: It takes a lot more than that to ruffle the feathers of a mild-mannered champion. “Rookie mistake,” Truex said with a shrug. “He just drove in there way too deep.”


WINNER: Ryan Newman REST OF TOP 5: Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Ryan Blaney FIRST ONE OUT: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. DARK HORSE: Daniel Suarez DON’T BE SURPRISED IF: Newman uses the old chrome horn to bash and bang his way to a muchneeded victory.


Only three races left until the playoff cut is made. Let’s sort things out.

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Compelling questions ... and maybe a few actual answers

Jimmie the Bubble Boy?

Not quite, but he’s way too close for comfort — we’re just one Alex Bowman victory away from seeing Jimmie Johnson take his precarious place atop the unsteady orb. A seven-time champ on the playoff bubble and therefore a potential playoff outsider? It’s still a bit unlikely, but its mere possibility is a shock to the system. The “slump” is part of a teamwide struggle at Hendrick Motorsports, but no less striking.

Can Jimmie shake it?

This deep into the season, highly unlikely. Looking back at late spring, there was some mild optimism when he finished between third and 12th in a four-week span. Then he finished fifth and eighth over two weeks the following month. But over the past nine races, he’s had more finishes outside the top 15 (five) than inside of it, with a best of 10th. He turns 43 next month, by the way.

— Ken Willis,


1. Kyle Busch 986

2. Kevin Harvick 924

3. Martin Truex Jr. 842

4. Kurt Busch 750

5. Clint Bowyer 732

6. Joey Logano 723

7. Brad Keselowski 709

8. Ryan Blaney 687

9. Denny Hamlin 684

10. Kyle Larson 681

11. Chase Elliott 647

12. Aric Almirola 639

13. Erik Jones 596

14. Jimmie Johnson 572

15. Alex Bowman 542

16. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 480

17. Paul Menard 472

18. Daniel Suarez 460

19. Ryan Newman 456

20. Austin Dillon 451


CUP SERIES: Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race SITE: Bristol Motor Speedway (.533 -mile oval) SCHEDULE: Friday, practice (NBC Sports Network, 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.), qualifying (NBC Sports Network, 5:30 p.m.). Saturday, race (NBC Sports Network, coverage begins at 6 p.m.; green flag, 7:45 p.m.)

XFINITY: Food City 300 SITE: Bristol Motor Speedway SCHEDULE: Thursday, practice (NBC, 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.). Friday, qualifying (NBC Sports Network, 3:30 p.m.), race (NBC Sports Network, 7:30 p.m.)

CAMPING WORLD TRUCKS: UNOH 200 SITE: Bristol Motor Speedway TV SCHEDULE: Thursday, race (Fox