2012 NASCAR Irwin Tools Night Race Preview: Can Brad Keselowski Win in Bristol?

Scott Jack@OddsNerdContributor IAugust 22, 2012

Brad Keselowski Wins 2012 Food City 500
Brad Keselowski Wins 2012 Food City 500Geoff Burke/Getty Images

This week, NASCAR makes their second stop at the Bristol Motor Speedway in 2012 for the Irwin Tools Night Race. Qualifying is this Friday, and the race is on Saturday night at 7 p.m ET.

With only three races left before the Chase begins, time is running out for drivers to qualify. Heading into Bristol this weekend, everyone is watching the race for the Chase.

Kasey Kahne has the first Wild Card spot locked up right now with two wins and 694 points (11th), but there are five other drivers in the top 20 that have one win apiece.

The five drivers that are 11th through 20th in the Sprint Cup Series standings with one win apiece include Jeff Gordon, Marcos Ambrose, Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman and Joey Logano.

These five drivers will be fighting for that elusive second win at Bristol this week to try and secure the second Wild Card spot in the Chase.

Jeff Gordon (650 points, 16th) will need to win one of the next three races if he wants to earn a Wild Card spot. The last time Jeff didn't make the Chase was in 2005.

Gordon won at Pocono earlier in the month, but I don't think he'll win at Bristol. He has won at Bristol five times in his career with an average finishing position of 12.10 in 39 races, but he hasn't won since 2002.

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Kyle Busch (669 points, 14th) has the best chance to win out of the five drivers in the hunt for the second Wild Card. Busch has seen recent success at Bristol, including five wins since 2009 (six wins in career).

Busch didn't finish the Food City 500 at Bristol this year (crash), but with everything on the line, I expect Busch to contend. His average finishing position on the track is 10.60 in 15 races.

Ryan Newman (680 points, 13th) has the second Wild Card heading into the 2012 Irwin Tools Night Race, but he could lose that spot if he doesn't win and one of the other drivers in the hunt does.

Newman has never done well at Bristol, and in 21 career races, his average finishing position is only 16.48. He has never won at Bristol in the past.

Joey Logano (600 points, 18th) won at Pocono back in June this year and is in search of his second win. Logano needs a second win because he won't catch the other drivers that have one win in points.

Logano doesn't have much experience at Bristol, but in seven career races, he has an average finishing position of 24.14, with his best finish being 13th in last year's Irwin Tools Night Race.

Marcos Ambrose (639 points, 17th) recently picked up his first win at Watkins Glen, and he followed that up last weekend with a top-five finish in Michigan.

Ambrose is driving extremely well at the perfect time, and he may contend this weekend. Ambrose hasn't won at Bristol in seven career races, but he does have one top-five and three top-10 finishes.

These five drivers will all look to contend on Saturday night in the 2012 Irwin Tools Night Race, but I don't think any of them will end up winning the race.

Another driver that could shake up the race to the Chase this weekend is Carl Edwards.

Carl Edwards (689 points, 12th) hasn't won a race in 2012, but he's 12th in Sprint Cup Series points. If he were to win this week in Bristol, he would become one of the two Wild Cards in the Chase.

Edwards has raced at Bristol 16 times, and his average finishing position is 13.94, which includes two victories (2007 and 2008).

My prediction to win this year's 2012 Irwin Tools Night Race is Brad Keselowski, which shouldn't surprise many.

Brad Keselowski (776 points, fifth) has been dominant at Bristol lately, and he has won the last two races on the track, including the Food City 500 earlier this year.

Keselowski has only raced at Bristol five times, and his average finish is 10.40 on the track. I also like how well Keselowski has been racing, as he has finished in second place the past two weekends.

Who do you think will win the 2012 Irwin Tools Night Race in Bristol?

Scott Jack is a Bleacher Report contributor and also runs OddsNerd.com.