NASCAR Cup Series: Looking back at the last five Bristol races

BRISTOL, TN - APRIL 16: Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #43 STP Chevrolet, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Toyota (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
BRISTOL, TN - APRIL 16: Darrell Wallace Jr., driver of the #43 STP Chevrolet, and Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Toyota (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images) /

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads back to its roots Saturday night at the Bristol Motor Speedway. It’s time to take a look back at the last five Bristol races.

April 2016

In the April 2016 NASCAR Cup Series race at Bristol, Carl Edwards was the star. He led a total of 276 laps and dominated the race from the pole position. Dale Earnhardt Jr. recovered from early troubles to finish second. Edwards’s teammates at Joe Gibbs Racing had issues, as Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch were unable to finish the race.

Edwards pulled away on the final restart to claim take the victory in the 2016 Food City 500. A total of 15 caution flags were thrown during the race, making it one of the biggest wreck-fests of the 2016 season.

August 2016

The August 2016 Cup Series race at Bristol was run over the course of two days, as rain postponed it to Sunday. Joe Gibbs Racing took the top three spots in qualifying with Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch starting in the top three.

Jeff Gordon made his final Bristol start substituting in the #88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet for the injured Dale Earnhardt Jr. Gordon finished in 11th place  The Joe Gibbs Racing drivers struggled again, as Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth both were involved in accidents.

Kevin Harvick led for most of last quarter of the race and won. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished in second place with Denny Hamlin third, Austin Dillon in fourth. Rookie Chris Buescher rounded out the top five in fifth.

April 2017

Dale Earnhardt Jr. returned to Bristol for the first time in a year, but he was involved in a crash and finished in 38th place. Kyle Larson dominated most of the race by leading 202 laps, but Jimmie Johnson took over in the final stage and held off multiple attempts from challengers to win. Clint Bowyer finished in second with Kevin Harvick in third, Matt Kenseth in fourth and Joey Logano in fifth.

August 2017

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Erik Jones proved he belonged with the big-time Cup Series veterans in August 2017. He captured his first career Cup Series pole for that race and led 260 of its laps. He battled Kyle Larson and Kyle Busch all night long.

Larson faded and Busch took center stage alongside Jones. Busch passed and held off Jones to win. He erased any memories of previous struggles for Joe Gibbs Racing at the track. Erik Jones finished in second place with Denny Hamlin third, Matt Kenseth in fourth and Kurt Busch in fifth. In his final race at Bristol, Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished in 23rd.

April 2018

The most recent race at Bristol was another big race for Kyle Busch. Brad Keselowski dominated the first two stages, but Busch showed his dominance once again in stage three.

Rookie Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. led the first six laps of his Cup Series career from lap 375 through 380. He finished in 16th place. Busch took over and pulled away from Kyle Larson after Keselowski faded late to win again at Bristol. Larson finished in second with Jimmie Johnson in third, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in fourth and Alex Bowman in fifth.

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If history tells us anything, it tells us that the upcoming night race at Bristol will be an epic battle full of hard racing, exciting finishes and hot tempers. The NASCAR Cup Series playoffs are coming soon and time is running out to secure a spot. Will a new driver punch his ticket to the playoffs, or will the “big three” dominate again? Find out this Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. ET during the live broadcast of the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race on NBC Sports Network.