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Good news, bad news for NASCAR Cup teams heading to Bristol

NASCAR Cup teams head to Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. This marks the first time since 2020 that Cup teams will race twice in the same season on the concrete at the half-mile track.

Here’s a look at where things stand for each Cup organization heading into the fifth race of the season:

23XI Racing — Good news: Tyler Reddick has moved from 26th to fifth in the points the past two races. He finished second at Las Vegas and 10th at Phoenix. Bad news: 23XI Racing is winless in 25 career short track races. The team’s best finish at a short track (Bristol concrete, Richmond and Martinsville) is a sixth-place result by Kurt Busch at Martinsville in April 2022.

Front Row Motorsports — Good news: Michael McDowell finished eighth at Phoenix, giving him two top 10s this year. He finished sixth at Bristol in last year’s playoff race. Bad news: Todd Gilliland has led 88 laps this year but has scored only 52 points. He ranks 28th in the season standings. 

Hendrick Motorsports — Good news: Kyle Larson has one win, three runner-up finishes, five top fives and eight top 10s in his last nine starts at Bristol. Larson also has the best average finish on short tracks (Bristol concrete, Richmond and Martinsville) in the Next Gen era at 7.40. Bad news: All four Hendrick cars finished outside the top 10 last weekend at Phoenix. Larson was the top Hendrick car, placing 14th.

NASCAR Cup Series Shriners Children's 500 - Practice
NASCAR Cup Series Shriners Children's 500 - Practice

Ryan Blaney takes back top spot in NASCAR Power Rankings after Phoenix

Ryan Blaney closed out the West Coast swing with a top-five finish.

Joe Gibbs Racing — Good news: Christopher Bell won at Phoenix last weekend. Ty Gibbs has finished in the top 10 in the last three races, including a career-best third at Phoenix. Bell, Gibbs, Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. each led at least 50 laps at Phoenix — the first time four teammates have led 50 or more laps in a race. Bad news: Truex has only four top-10 finishes and no wins in 33 career starts on the concrete at Bristol.

JTG Daugherty Racing — Good news: Ricky Stenhouse finished 10th at Bristol in last year’s playoff race. Bad news: Stenhouse had finished no better than 20th in the seven previous races on the concrete at Bristol before last year’s top-10 result.

Kaulig Racing — Good news: Kaulig Racing has had a car place in the top 20 in three of the first four Cup races this season. Bad news: Phoenix was not one of those tracks. Daniel Hemric was 28th. Derek Kraus was 35th.

Legacy Motor Club — Good news: Erik Jones has finished in the top 10 in three of the last five Bristol races. Bad news: John Hunter Nemechek was 25th at Phoenix and Jones was 31st after his car was damaged due to contact late in the race. That marked the first time this season both Legacy MC cars finished 25th or worse.

Richard Childress Racing — Good news: Phoenix is over. Bad news: For the third time in the first four races of the season, Austin Dillon was involved in a crash within the opening 10 laps. Teammate Kyle Busch struggled with his car and spun before finishing 22nd. Was this just a bad day or the continuation of short track issues the team had last year?

Rick Ware Racing — Good news: Justin Haley finished 24th at Phoenix for his second top-25 result of the season. Bad news: Kaz Grala placed 30th at Phoenix, his second consecutive finish of 30th or worse this year.

RFK Racing — Good news: Both Chris Buescher (second) and Brad Keselowski (fourth) finished in the top five at Phoenix. That marks the fourth time since last season that RFK placed both cars in the top five. It happened last year at Talladega in April, at Michigan in August (a race won by Buescher), and at Daytona in August — when Buescher and Keselowski went first and second. Bad news: Buescher has scored only two stage points in the season’s first four races.

Spire Motorsports — Good news: Rookie Carson Hocevar has had three consecutive top-20 finishes, including back-to-back 15th-place finishes. Bad news: Corey LaJoie was eliminated by a crash and placed 33rd at Phoenix. That snapped his streak of running at the finish in 44 consecutive races. The last time he failed to finish a race before this past weekend was Talladega in October 2022.

Stewart-Haas Racing — Good news: Noah Gragson has three finishes of 12th or better in the first four races. Chase Briscoe has two top 10s this year. Bad news: Josh Berry has not finished better than 20th this year. Ryan Preece has not placed better than 16th this season.

Team Penske — Good news: Ryan Blaney took the points lead with his fifth-place finish at Phoenix. Bad news: Joey Logano has finished 28th or worse in three of the first four races and finds himself 30th in the points. While Logano has two Bristol wins, he has finished outside the top 10 in the last six races there on the concrete.

Trackhouse Racing — Good news: Ross Chastain heads to Bristol having scored top-10 finishes the past three weekends. Bad news: Chastain has one top-10 finish in seven Cup starts on the concrete at Bristol.

Wood Brothers Racing — Good news: Harrison Burton had his second-best finish of the season last weekend at Phoenix. Bad news: That finish at Phoenix was 27th.