Saturday night, the first round of the NASCAR playoffs comes to a close with a cutoff race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Only the top 12 drivers will move on and remain in contention for the championship trophy while the other four will see their hopes come to an end. Here's when the critical race takes place.
Coverage for the Bass Pro Shops Night Race begins at 7:30 p.m. ET. NBC Sports Network will broadcast the race while the NBC Sports app will provide a streaming option — although a login is required. Rick Allen, Steve Letarte, Jeff Burton and Dale Earnhardt Jr. will call the action from the booth during an intense playoff race. PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will cover the race for those unable to watch.
There are multiple drivers in danger of elimination heading into Saturday night's race considering that the field will drop from 16 to 12. William Byron, Rookie of the Year Cole Custer, Matt DiBenedetto and Ryan Blaney are all sitting on the outside looking in, but they could move on with a win. Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch and Aric Almirola currently have the three remaining spots, but they will all have to perform well in order to remain in the hunt for the championship trophy.
"I'm excited. I'm looking forward to Bristol," Almirola told PopCulture.com in an exclusive interview. "I think the last few races, quite honestly, I feel like we've been slightly off of our normal performance and we've gotten two top tens. So I think if we can do just a little bit better with everything, have a little bit better car, have a little bit better pit stops, the driver does a little bit better, we can go to Bristol and run top five all night, very, very easily. We're certainly capable of that."
Almirola is ready to perform well during Saturday's race, and he will start in a favorable position overall. He will begin the race in the 10th position, just ahead of Bowyer and Custer. Brad Keselowski, the winner of the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond, has the pole position while Penske teammate Joey Logano will join him on the front row to lead the field to the green flag.
With so many drivers in contention for the final spots in the playoff race, they will have to perform well and avoid mistakes on the famed short track. The race will cover 500 laps (266.5 miles) and will finish under the lights as 12 competitors celebrate their continuing opportunity to pursue a championship.