BRISTOL , Tenn. -- The viewing and listening experience for fans attending events at Bristol Motor Speedway is about to get a lot clearer. And larger. A whole lot larger. Officials with the popular half-mile track unveiled plans for the world's largest outdoor suspended digital display Wednesday, a 700 ton marvel of engineering that has already been dubbed "Colossus." This isn't your father's scoreboard. Work on the new piece is scheduled to begin in November and be completed in time for next year's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series weekend in April. Each custom-built screen adorning the four sides of the display is approximately 30 feet tall and 63 feet wide, or twice as high and nearly three times as wide as the video displays atop the scoring pylon currently in the BMS infield. And with nearly 54 million LEDs and 18 million pixels, the picture quality is expected to exceed that of large-scale outdoor displays seen in Times Square. A 540,000-watt audio system featuring 380 3-way loudspeakers and 48 stadium subwoofers will decrease the listening distance (from speakers to fans in the grandstands) from what had been between 200-400 feet (depending on location) to no more than 90 feet. The new piece will be suspended by cables tethered to four towers located outside the race track. Sightlines for fans in the grandstands will not be impacted, according to track officials. The idea for Colossus came about as track management began working toward next year’s Battle at Bristol , the college football game featuring the University of Tennessee and Virginia Tech that will be played inside BMS. Moving the current scoring pylon in the center of the infield was a must; coming up with suitable viewing screens became necessary. "We studied the football game (plans) for several months before we even went down that path," Jerry Caldwell, BMS general manager, said. "Some options were coming out of that -- we could do this with screens, we could put them in the turns, we could do other things. And then there was a " what if we did this." Then you bring in people like Panasonic and the other companies we met with … and it became more of a reality." It's the way Speedway Motorsports Inc., way, according to Caldwell. "We go after the 'why nots?' " he said. "It's an amazing addition and enhancement for race fans. Both the (video) and the sound are going to take us to a new level." The video display, which will include a circular truss underneath providing pertinent information (such as the running order during races) will be suspended by cables roughly 30 percent thicker than the vertical cables suspending the Golden Gate Bridge, weighing in at approximately 63 pounds per foot. "Suspending a screen like this is quite an engineering feat, challenge," Richard Ballard, a consultant for Panasonic, said. "I quite frankly don't know where one is of this size." Determining how large the screens needed to be for maximum results and optimum quality, he said, was similar to "picking the right size TV for your living room … is it the 50-inch, the 42, the 65-inch model? … You're going to fit that perfectly inside your room. "We did the same thing here -- we took the sizing of the venue, the sight lines, figured out what size would it take to give you that living room experience. What we're doing it trying to give you that experience that you would get at home." Marcus Smith, President and CEO of Speedway Motorsports Inc., said he expects Colossus to "totally transform the experience for Bristol Motor Speedway . "And what it does for us with other events is going to be great," he said. "The football game will have a bigger-than-life feel. We can host huge concerts. Any event that wants to have the biggest event ever, whether it's hockey like the Winter Classic or the world's biggest rodeo, you name it and we can host it." Caldwell agreed. "Really, the sky is the limit," he said. "Some of those things (such as concerts and racing-related events) were possible before; this just makes it a whole lot easier and more cost effective to pull off."
Presenting NASCAR content from around the web Editor's note: On Wednesday at noon ET, "High 5" will present some of the best NASCAR-related content from around the web. 1. Don't push the button... College football didn't disappoint viewers this week, as Clemson knocked off No. 6 Notre Dame in a thrilling fashion, beating the Fighting Irish 24-22. After the game, Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney -- who is known for his passionate speeches, enthusiastic behavior and even a little dancing -- began what was a promising post-game sermon on ABC. But he was interrupted with a wrong push of a button back in the ESPN studio. For 13 slow seconds, viewers were treated to a clip of unknowing SportsCenter anchors Jay Harris and Kevin Connors scrolling through their iPads. Major oops. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;nbsp; Apologies for glitch during Dabo Swinney's emotional postgame interview. Wrong button hit - interrupted his answer. Live TV — Chris Fowler (@cbfowler) October 4, 2015 Just goes to show you how big of a deal one button can be. The flagman at Bristol can certainly attest to that, as his accidental lean on a switch at the end of the race in 2014 brought out the caution, handing the checkered flag to Carl Edwards . Doesn't seem like Carl minded too much, though. 2. I'm lovin' it Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2015 was a big day in America: McDonald's began serving breakfast all day long . Yup, now you can satisfy your midnight cravings for an Egg McMuffin. We know one guy who's excited for late-night oval-shaped hashbrowns. So excited that he even put Mickey D's breakfast on his car. #dedication If you don't have dinner plans, remember that breakfast is now an option! #AllDayBreakfast starts today @McDonalds https://t.co/RQEk6vsBCb — Jamie McMurray (@jamiemcmurray) October 6, 2015 3. Make way for ducklings NASCAR is no stranger to wildlife on the track. Back in August, a rabbit was seen hopping down the track at Bristol Motor Speedway . And there was that one time that a seagull dared to face off Dale Earnhardt in the 1991 Daytona 500 . Poor, poor seagull. This little guy was the latest critter to (literally) hit the track Sunday during the Sprint Cup Series' AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway . For the bird's sake, thank goodness for caution flags and wings that allowed him to escape the Miles the Monster unscathed. 4. Where there's rain, there's... Apparently giant snakes. As if the bird on-track wasn't enough, a five-feet-long boa constrictor was seen slithering its way through downtown Dover, Delaware, amidst the rainy conditions on Wednesday. While the idea of a massive snake slinking its way around town is creepy (and slightly terrifying), at least it didn't make its way to the race track like Mr. Bird did on Saturday. Can you imagine the chaos a SNAKE would cause? Although the Miles the Monster-giant snake match-up is an interesting idea … 5. 'Merica The MLB's Texas Rangers were certainly feeling patriotic during Tuesday's practice before their upcoming playoff series against the Toronto Blue Jays. A little workout before heading to Toronto. #NeverEverQuit pic.twitter.com/oninA5nXqB — Texas Rangers (@Rangers) October 6, 2015 With all the pride Texans have for their state, we are a tad surprised these are American flag shorts and not Texas flag ones. But either way, NASCAR's got them beat. Cars > Shorts. #Merica
Check out the top moments from all three series at Bristol Motor Speedway in this edition of Weekend Top Five.
What: 55th annual Irwin Tools Night Race . Where: Bristol Motor Speedway , .533-mile oval in Bristol , Tenn. When: Saturday, Aug. 22, 7:30 p.m. ET. TV/Radio: NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Distance: 500 laps, 266.5 miles. Pit road speed: 30 mph. Caution car speed: 35 mph. Fuel window: 150 laps. On the front row: " Full lineup Denny Hamlin , Joe Gibbs Racing No. 11 Toyota (131.407 mph) Kyle Busch , Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota (131.263 mph) Did not qualify Travis Kvapil , The Motorsports Group No. 30 Chevrolet; Jeb Burton , BK Racing No. 26 Toyota; Reed Sorensen, Premium No. 62 Motorsports Chevrolet Fastest in practice First practice: Kyle Larson , Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates No. 42 Chevrolet (129.833 mph) " Results Final practice: Kyle Busch , Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota (131.146 mph). " Results Driver rating (Best driver rating average at Bristol based on past 21 races): Matt Kenseth (104.6) Jeff Gordon (100.3) Last year's winner Joey Logano , Team Penske No. 22 Ford. Milestones in the mountains Two drivers in the field will click off landmark starts in NASCAR's premier series Saturday night. Ryan Newman is scheduled to make his 500th Sprint Cup appearance in Bristol's annual night race, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr . will be making his 100th start in the series. For one of the two, the occasion came as a surprise. "I honestly had no idea until someone informed me of it this week," Newman said. "500 is definitely a career milestone but for me, the biggest career start was my very first one. You got to have people who believe in you enough to just give you a chance and for that I am truly grateful." Gordon's landmark The return of the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevy's rainbow paint scheme may be a 'one weekend only' occurrence, but Bristol Motor Speedway gave Jeff Gordon a sustaining gift Friday that will last ages. A swath of seats in the mammoth grandstands will be known as the Jeff Gordon Terrace, joining sections named for stock-car racing legends -- Earnhardt, Allison, Petty, Pearson, Waltrip, Johnson, Wallace, Yarborough and Kulwicki. History lesson Then named Bristol International Speedway , the .533-mile track debuted with the Volunteer 500 on July 30, 1961. Jack Smith was credited with the inaugural victory, but he was behind the wheel for only the first 290 laps, giving way to relief driver Johnny Allen for the final 210 circuits in the searing summer heat. They said it "One in 43." -- Matt Kenseth on weighing his chances of securing a second consecutive Sprint Cup victory, and a Bristol season sweep, this weekend. Former Bristol winners in field Kurt Busch , Kyle Busch , Jeff Gordon (5); Matt Kenseth (4); Carl Edwards (3); Brad Keselowski (2); Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Denny Hamlin , Kevin Harvick , Jimmie Johnson , Kasey Kahne , Joey Logano , Tony Stewart (1)
RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Chase standings Below is a breakdown of how the full 43-car field fared at Bristol Motor Speedway . 1. Joey Logano , No. 22 Ford, Team Penske . Logano became just the third driver to lead approaching the halfway point on Saturday night, and he paced 176 laps en route to his second Bristol victory. " MORE: Logano victorious again in night race 2. Kevin Harvick , No. 4 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Harvick rallied from two pit-road speeding penalties to run second with five laps to go when he unsuccessfully attempted a run for the lead. " MORE: Harvick scores 10th runner-up finish 3. Denny Hamlin , No. 11 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . The polesitter held steady in the top 10 but struggled to find the answer when navigating the middle to exit of the turns at Bristol . " WATCH: Hamlin leads field to green flag 4. Jimmie Johnson , No. 48 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . "These have been really good laps, man," crew chief Chad Knaus radioed Johnson as he scored his 10th top-five result at Bristol . " SIGN UP: RaceView Scanner 5. Clint Bowyer , No. 15 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . Bowyer qualified ninth and was running second by Lap 232, but he struggled some after receiving contact late in the race. " MORE: Bowyer gives MWR a boost 6. Brad Keselowski , No. 2 Ford, Team Penske . Keselowski was running second with teammate and eventual winner Joey Logano with 100 laps to go before being shuffled back on a restart. 7. Carl Edwards , No. 19 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Edwards gave up the lead on Lap 354 when he hit pit road for a flat tire. 8. Kyle Busch , No. 18 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Busch recovered from an unscheduled pit stop on Lap 350 for a loose wheel and a subsequent pit-road speeding penalty with 68 laps to go. 9. Dale Earnhardt Jr ., No. 88 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Earnhardt fought to stay on the lead lap mid-race and recorded back-to-back beneficiary passes on the fourth and fifth caution periods. He then held on for his 15th Bristol top 10. 10. Ryan Newman , No. 31 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Mostly quiet on the radio, Newman encouraged his team to leave the car alone as he also scored his 15th Bristol top 10. 11. Jamie McMurray , No. 1 Chevrolet. Chip Ganassi Racing . McMurray completed a 50-lap run in practice that helped him get a feel for long green-flag stretches, of which there was one past halfway when he hovered in the top 10. 12. Justin Allgaier , No. 51 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Despite some early front-fender damage and a pit-road speeding penalty, Allgaier made the most of a promising run and earned his third top-15 finish of the year. 13. Austin Dillon , No. 3 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Dillon stopped late in the race for some repair to the left-rear of his car and finished as the last car on the lead lap. 14. Kurt Busch , No. 41 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . "There's nothing I can really do to help you," crew chief Tony Gibson radioed Busch during the Lap 359 caution period, so Busch stayed out despite issues from an earlier mash-up with David Ragan . " SIGN UP: RaceView Scanner 15. Trevor Bayne , No. 6 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Bayne restarted 18th at the tail end of the longest line with 67 laps to go after speeding on pit road. 16. Kasey Kahne , No. 5 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . "It took a lot longer to start vibrating this time," Kahne reported to his team on Lap 330 while running 18th. 17. Aric Almirola , No. 43 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Almirola qualified 31st in his repaired No. 43 Ford and was running 19th on Lap 358 when he told the team he feared they had lost the handle on it, prompting more adjustments. 18. Sam Hornish Jr ., No. 9 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports . Hornish experienced a tight-handling condition when running the bottom line and a loose-handling one when running the top, so his team worked on dialing the car in. 19. Tony Stewart , No. 14 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Stewart qualified 40th and cracked the top 15 by Lap 150 but later reported his car wouldn't cut in the middle of the corner any more. 20. Jeff Gordon , No. 24 Chevrolet, Hendrick Motorsports . Gordon was running fifth when he had to bring his throwback rainbow paint scheme to pit road on Lap 409 for a "bad vibration." 21. Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., No. 17, Roush Fenway Racing . Stenhouse had just taken the wave around and lined up 19th for the restart when he smacked the wall on Lap 384 to bring out the seventh caution flag. 22. Ryan Blaney , No. 21 Ford, Wood Brothers Racing . Blaney spent most of the race trying to recover from a pit-road speeding penalty assessed on Lap 57. 23. Casey Mears , No. 13 Chevrolet, Germain Racing . Mears, in his 26th Bristol outing, reported a vibration that his team addressed along with right-rear damage from earlier contact during the Lap 384 caution. 24. Paul Menard , No. 27 Chevrolet, Richard Childress Racing . Menard lost some track position early after a near-spin on Lap 43. He had another setback during the fifth caution period when his team lost control of a tire and he was penalized. 25. Greg Biffle , No. 16 Ford, Roush Fenway Racing . Significant damage to the No. 16 prompted the team to make multiple stops for repairs during the sixth caution period. 26. AJ Allmendinger , No. 47 Chevrolet, JTG Daugherty Racing . On Lap 146, Allmendinger collided with Ricky Stenhouse Jr . and bounced off the inside wall. 27. Danica Patrick , No. 10 Chevrolet, Stewart-Haas Racing . Patrick radioed to her team that it felt like her right-front tire was going down, so she hit pit road on Lap 313 for four tires and fuel. 28. Martin Truex Jr ., No. 78 Chevrolet, Furniture Row Racing . Running a back-up car, Truex suffered left-front damage on Lap 384 and had to make two unscheduled pit stops, which put the team two laps down. 29. Cole Whitt , No. 35 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . Prior to the sixth caution flag, Whitt asked his team to check the right-side of his car after a competitor shoved him into the wall. 30. Brett Moffitt , No. 34 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . The fastest qualifying rookie radioed early that he started off loose, but improved as the run continued. 31. Michael McDowell , No. 95 Ford, Leavine Family Racing . A big setup change during a mid-race pit stop slowed McDowell’s forward progress. 32. Alex Bowman , No. 7 Chevrolet, Tommy Baldwin Racing . Bowman qualified 36th and picked up six spots but had trouble passing because his car developed a tight-handling condition in traffic. 33. Matt DiBenedetto , No. 83 Toyota, BK Racing . DiBenedetto was running 33rd when he radioed his team on Lap 308 that he needed to stop for flat right-rear tire. 34. J.J. Yeley, No. 23 Toyota, BK Racing . Yeley caught a break on Lap 250 when the caution flag was waved. Just a few laps earlier, he had reported a right-front tire vibration. " MORE: Yeley's daughter steals the show 35. Josh Wise , No. 32 Ford, Go Fas Racing. Early in the race, Wise's team got creative with adjustments when they handed him a paint stick so he could reach and adjust his in-car track bar. 36. David Gilliland , No. 38 Ford, Front Row Motorsports . In his 19th Bristol appearance, Gilliland was stalled early when he had to make an unscheduled pit stop for a loose wheel. 37. Mike Bliss , No. 33 Chevrolet, Circle Sport. Bliss suited up for his ninth race of the year, but his first behind the wheel of the No. 33. 38. Landon Cassill , No. 40 Chevrolet, Hillman Smith Motorsports. Cassill's team took a big swing at his setup early in the race, changing the bump stop setup, and chased the handling of the No. 40 throughout the race. 39. Timmy Hill , No. 98 Ford, Phil Parsons Racing. Hill, making his second Bristol start on Saturday night, improved upon his first result at the half-mile track. 40. David Ragan , No. 55 Toyota, Michael Waltrip Racing . Ragan retreated behind the wall after receiving contact and spinning out of the top five to bring out the sixth caution flag on Lap 371. " MORE: Ragan, Bowyer show strength amid shake-up 41. Kyle Larson , No. 42 Chevrolet, Chip Ganassi Racing . An early two-tire call turned out to be a losing gamble as Larson cut his left-front on Lap 125 and hit the wall. He later brought out the fifth caution flag after hitting the wall. 42. Matt Kenseth , No. 20 Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing . Around Lap 111, Kenseth limped from running in the top 10 to pit road for his team to assess his smoking car. An engine issue sent the No. 20 behind the wall. " MORE: Early exit for Kenseth 43. Michael Annett , No. 46 Chevrolet, HScott Motorsports . Annett made an unscheduled pit stop after the first lap at Bristol for a transmission issue.
RELATED: Bristol results " Chase Grid " By the numbers since Busch's return With only two races left until the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoffs, it's time to check in on Kyle Busch , driver of the No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing , as he tries to rebound from missing 11 races to early season injuries and make the Chase. He is currently the only driver with multiple wins who has yet to mathematically clinch a spot in the Chase. WHAT JUST HAPPENED: Busch started second in Saturday's Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway , sharing the front row with pole-sitting teammate Denny Hamlin 's No. 11 Toyota. He followed a win in Friday night's green-white-checkered finish in the XFINITY Series with an eighth-place finish in the Sprint Cup race. A green-flag stop for a loose wheel and a penalty for speeding on pit road cost Busch a shot at winning the race despite leading the most laps, 192 of 500. WHAT HE NEEDS: Staying out of trouble remains a priority. Busch must remain in the top 30 in the drivers points standings and is in 29th after Bristol , 46 points ahead of 31st-place driver Cole Whitt . But after Saturday's race, Busch is closer to 28th place, just one point behind Ricky Stenhouse Jr ., who finished 21st at Bristol . There is a good chance Busch could lock up his Chase spot at Darlington next week. WHAT'S NEXT: The Sprint Cup Series heads to Darlington Raceway for the Bojangles' Southern 500 on Sept. 6 (7:30 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). "The Lady in Black" is a tough track to tame, and the low downforce package that teams ran at Kentucky Speedway will also be used at Darlington. Busch won at Kentucky and was among the drivers who raved about the new aero package. He also has one win at Darlington, in 2008, and has an average finish there of 13.6.
RELATED: Bristol schedule " Paint schemes for Bristol It's no longer the pits, figuratively speaking, when setting up shop in a pit stall on the backstretch at Bristol Motor Speedway . Because it is the only track that still features pit stalls on the front (Nos. 1-22) and back (Nos. 23-43) of the track, teams forced to pit on the backside of the tiny, half-mile bullring often found themselves at a competitive disadvantage, hitting pit road only after those stopping on the frontstretch had already been in for service. Teams pitting on the frontstretch entered pit road at the exit of Turn 4 while those pitting on the back remained behind the pace car until they reached the exit of Turn 2 and were allowed to drop down onto the backstretch of pit road. That changed in 2002 when track officials began requiring all cars to enter pit road in Turn 2, regardless of where their pit stall was located. Now, teams pitting on the frontstretch must maintain pit road speed all the way around to their respective pit stalls before returning to the track in Turn 1. Those pitting on the backstretch get service first, but must also maintain pit road speed all the way back around to Turn 1, still utilizing pit road, before returning to the track as well. It hasn't lessened the advantage of qualifying on the pole and choosing the first pit stall closest to the pit-out area in Turn 1 – that remains a prime piece of real estate regardless of track location. Matt Kenseth , winner of the spring race at BMS, started on the pole and was pitted in pit stall No. 1. But Kenseth also won from a backstretch pit stall (in the 2013 night race at BMS) as did Kasey Kahne (in the spring race of '13). Four of those finishing in the top 10 in this year's spring race at Bristol pitted on the backstretch. When under green, teams pitting on the frontstretch enter pit road off of Turn 4 while those pitting on the backside of the track enter at Turn 2. BMS hosts the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series on Wednesday night with the running of the UNOH 200 . The Food City 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series race is set for Friday night and on Saturday the track hosts the annual Irwin Tools Night Race (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM). Split Decision NASCAR officials took no action beyond obtaining the splitters from the Team Penske No. 2 and 22 entries prior to last weekend's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway , leaving most folks to wonder what all the fuss was about. On Sunday morning, officials said the splitters on the cars of Brad Keselowski (No. 2) and teammate Joey Logano (22) were "so close ... we just asked the team to err on the safe side and asked them to switch to a clean splitter." The two pieces were evaluated this week at the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C. A Reason for Increase in Violations There number of violations on pit road this past weekend at Michigan tripled compared to the series' visit there in June. However, the June race was cut short by rain, with only 138 of the scheduled 200 laps completed. This past weekend's race saw 24 penalties handed down for pit road miscues compared with eight in the series' first stop at the 2-mile track. Tires Good to Go The tire codes for this weekend's Sprint Cup , XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series races at Bristol are unchanged from recent combinations used at the concrete half-mile, according to Goodyear officials. It is the only track where this particular set of tire codes are currently used.
Edwards: "This is like the first practice session" BRISTOL , Tenn. -- More than one dozen NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams spent Wednesday testing at Bristol Motor Speedway , preparing for next month's return when the high-banked, half-mile track hosts the Irwin Tools Night Race . "The surface here doesn't change a lot, but the groove changes a lot," Joe Gibbs Racing 's Carl Edwards said of the concrete racing surface during a break in the eight-hour session. "People end up racing right up against the fence. "We're not really able to do that today. Basically, this is like the first practice session (of a race weekend) -- when we show up (in August), the race track will be like this." Still, with only six races remaining before the field is officially set for this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup , any opportunity to improve one's chances for one of the six events isn't taken lightly. "Seventy-five percent (of what we do today) is relevant," Edwards said. "We're just not really able to run up there to that high groove." Edwards, a winner in this year's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway , hasn't officially locked in a spot in the 16-team Chase field, but for he and a handful of others that have already won this year, it's a formality. Three of Edwards' 24 career wins in Sprint Cup have come at BMS and he was fast here on Wednesday. He also cut a tire down during the afternoon session, and contact with the wall did a bit of cosmetic damage to the No. 19 Toyota. "We know exactly what we were lacking when we came here the last race," he said, "so it gives us the opportunity to work on some things." In addition to Edwards, other teams taking part in the test were Ryan Blaney ( Wood Brothers Racing ), Joey Logano ( Team Penske ), Aric Almirola ( Richard Petty Motorsports ), Ricky Stenhouse Jr . ( Roush Fenway Racing ), Paul Menard ( Richard Childress Racing ), David Ragan ( Michael Waltrip Racing ), Jamie McMurray ( Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates), Danica Patrick ( Stewart-Haas Racing ), Travis Kvapil (TMG), Kasey Kahne ( Hendrick Motorsports ) and Landon Cassill (Mike Hillman Racing). Logano and Kahne are also previous winners at Bristol . Stenhouse is still searching for his first Sprint Cup win; the fast BMS track seems to suit his driving style. The 27-year-old has finished sixth or higher in his last three starts here. "It's just fun," Stenhouse Jr. said. "I like running the top, it kind of reminds me of a dirt track the way you can really kind of turn to the right getting into the corner once we get some rubber down on the top lane. We haven't gotten it quite high enough today, but we've worked pretty far up there." The RFR driver is 27th in points, and his fourth-place finish here earlier this year has been his only top 10. "Honestly, being 18th or 19th in points or where we are, if you don't have a win, you're still outside (the Chase)," he said. "I could be eight spots better and it really wouldn't do me any good other than obviously we're getting better finishes, better results." A two-time XFINITY Series champion, Stenhouse said the No. 17 team has improved -- "I think we're getting better," he said -- but the gap between his group and the leaders is still a wide one. "That's why we really kind of embraced coming to this test," he said. "It's been a good race for us in the past. Out of the races that are left, it's probably our best shot to catch a break. "We've been close (here); we know we're not exactly there yet. But we know if we make the right adjustments and get the car a little better, then we'll have the opportunity. And really, that's all you can ask for." The Irwin Tools Night Race is scheduled for Aug. 22 (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Practice 2 " Complete final practice results After coming in third in opening practice, Kyle Busch 's No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota rocketed around Bristol Motor Speedway and to the top of the leaderboard in Friday's second practice session. "Rowdy" recorded a fast lap of 131.146 mph, a speed that rivals the previous qualifying track record Kevin Harvick set in 2014 (131.362 mph). David Ragan made a late run to earn the second spot on the leaderboard, maneuvering his No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota at 130.646 mph around the short track. Having led the opening practice, Kyle Larson 's fast lap of 130.018 mph allowed him to spend some time at the top of the leaderboard before setting for third on the board in his No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Chevrolet. Team Penske 's Joey Logano came up next, wheeling a fast lap of 129.587 mph for the fourth position, while Joe Gibbs Racing 's Denny Hamlin rounded out the top five (129.404 mph). Reigning Sprint Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick posted the sixth-fastest speed, recording a high speed of 129.334 mph in his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet. Jimmie Johnson , Martin Truex Jr ., Aric Almirola and Jeb Burton all experienced trouble in the opening session, but were back on track in the final session. Johnson led the corral, posting the ninth-fastest speed (129.073 mph) in his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, while Martin Truex Jr .'s No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet was 21st (127.724 mph). Several drivers attempted qualifying runs during the second session, bringing several drivers' speeds up from the previous session. The Sprint Cup Series is back on track tonight at Bristol at 5:45 p.m. for Coors Light Pole Qualifying (NBCSN). Practice 1: Complete opening practice results Kyle Larson surged to the top of the leaderboard in the final minute of Friday's Sprint Cup practice at Bristol Motor Speedway , propelling his No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Chevrolet around the short track at 129.833 mph to lead the session. Matt Kenseth also made a late run, briefly topping the leaderboard before settling into second with a fast lap of 128.597 mph from his No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. The leader for the majority of the hour-and-a-half session, Kyle Busch came up third after Kenseth's late run. "Rowdy" wheeled his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota around the short track at 128.580 mph. Michael Waltrip Racing 's Clint Bowyer (128.099 mph) and Joe Gibbs Racing 's Carl Edwards (127.707 mph) rounded out the top five. Wheeling the iconic No. 24 rainbow paint scheme at 126.637 mph, Jeff Gordon posted the 14th-fastest speed in the field. Chase Elliott , who will take Gordon's place in the No. 24 ride next season, watched Gordon from the top of the No. 24 hauler following his own XFINITY practice. Jimmie Johnson missed 38 minutes of the practice after his No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet got up high on the track and made contact with the wall nine minutes into the session. He returned to the track and posted the 18th-fastest speed. Jeb Burton and Aric Almirola also hit the wall during the session. Martin Truex Jr . slammed into the wall in the final 10 minutes of practice, forcing the No. 78 team to bring out the backup car.
RELATED: Complete starting lineup BRISTOL , Tenn. -- If it's pole day in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Joe Gibbs Racing must be celebrating. Denny Hamlin powered his No. 11 Toyota around .533-mile Bristol Motor Speedway in 14.602 seconds (131.407 mph) on Friday to win the pole for Saturday's Irwin Tools Night Race (on NBCSN at 7:30 p.m. ET). In breaking Kevin Harvick 's August 2014 track qualifying record by .005 seconds, Hamlin won his second Coors Light Pole Award of the season, his third at Bristol and the 22nd of his career. JGR swept the top three spots in qualifying for the second straight week, having accomplished the feat last Saturday on the two-mile track at Michigan International Speedway . The pole was JGR's fifth straight on an oval track ( AJ Allmendinger , in a JTG Daugherty Chevrolet, claimed the top starting spot for the Aug. 9 race on the road course at Watkins Glen). Hamlin edged teammate Kyle Busch (131.263 mph) by .016 seconds. Carl Edwards (130.655 mph) took the third starting spot, followed by David Ragan in a Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota (130.460 mph) and Joey Logano in a Team Penske Ford (130.344 mph). Hamlin also won the pole for Friday night's NASCAR XFINITY Series race. "To have that two nights in a row here is hopefully going to pay dividends," Hamlin said. "We're excited. Bristol's been a great track for me in the past, and we've got nothing to lose this weekend, just gearing up for the Chase, so I think our FedEx team's ready." Hamlin has a victory at Bristol in addition to his two poles, and with a Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup position guaranteed by virtue of his victory at Martinsville in April, he can go all-out for a win on Saturday night without fear of consequences. Busch fought handling issues in the final two rounds of knockout qualifying and went for broke on his final attempt in the last round. "We were just a little too free there the second segment and the first run of the third segment," Busch said. "It's a little edgy up there, so you try not to push too hard, but still make a good lap and come back safely. "Then there at the end we tried a ‘Hail Mary' and it worked. It picked us up speed, but it didn't pick us up that spot." Brad Keselowski , Kevin Harvick , Ricky Stenhouse Jr . Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson grabbed the sixth through 10th spots on the grid, respectively. The qualifying effort was Stenhouse's best of the year. Jeff Gordon will start 24th in his last race at Bristol as a full-time Sprint Cup driver. Travis Kvapil , Jeb Burton and Reed Sorenson failed to make the 43-car field.