The final race of the 2021 ARCA Menards Series East season arrives Thursday in the form of the Bush’s Beans 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
And for the third time this year, East Series regulars will face additional competition in a combination event with the ARCA Menards Series.
Because Ty Gibbs won the first two AMS-East combo races (in July at Iowa Speedway and last month at the Milwaukee Mile) in addition to the East Series race at Dover International Speedway in May, either he or his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Sammy Smith has won all but one East race this season. Rookie Max Gutiérrez, of course, scored the only non-JGR win in the series this year with his stunning victory in the season-opener at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway.
Gibbs will look to build on his own championship points lead in the ARCA Menards Series on Thursday at Bristol, but it’s Smith, the East Series full-timer, who will look to hoist a championship trophy at the end of the night.
Tickets to Thursday’s Bush’s Beans 200 are available. The race will broadcast live on FS1 starting at 6:30 p.m. ET with a live stream available on the Fox Sports App.
MRN and SiriusXM (XM channel 391, online channel 981) also will provide live radio coverage of the Bush’s Beans 200.
Bush’s Beans 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
The Bush’s Beans 200, which in addition to its status as an AMS-East combo race represents Round 9 of the 10-race Sioux Chief Showdown, is all about championship battles.
But only one will be decided Thursday evening.
Smith, 17, enters the final race of the East Series season with a 24-point lead over second-place Daniel Dye in the championship standings. He does so on the strength of three wins (tied with Gibbs for the most in East competition in 2021) and a series-high six top-five finishes through seven events.
Simply put: If Smith finishes 19th or better at Bristol, he will win the ARCA Menards Series East championship in his rookie season.
A 19th-place finish for Smith at Bristol without any bonus points would put his season total at 368 points, not including the 50-point bonus drivers will earn for completing all races in the second half of the season. That’s the highest number Dye can reach with a race win and all six bonus points at Bristol. Smith will hold the points tiebreaker no matter what by virtue of his three wins.
As for Dye, without bonus points, he needs to finish seventh or better at Bristol to give himself a chance to win the championship. He also could win it by finishing eighth with one bonus point, ninth with two bonus points or 10th with three bonus points. Of course, that’s assuming Smith finishes last.
Dye needs Smith to finish 20th or worse for any of his winning scenarios to be possible.
Assuming Smith indeed starts the race and earns at least the minimum amount of points for finishing last, only one other driver beyond Dye has the potential to win the East Series championship: Mason Diaz.
Diaz needs to win the race while Smith finishes last with no bonus points. If Smith were to finish 29th through 31st, again without bonus points, Diaz would need the win plus bonus points.
Of course, with that win, Diaz would also need Dye to finish the season with 358 points or fewer to jump both drivers.
As for the ARCA Menards Series title race, Gibbs has a 16-point lead over second-place Corey Heim with three events remaining. After Bristol, that series will end its season with races at Salem Speedway (Oct. 2) and Kansas Speedway (Oct. 23).
Gibbs also leads Heim in the Sioux Chief Showdown standings by 13 points heading into Bristol. That series will conclude with the Salem race.
Including all of the drivers mentioned above, the complete entry list for Thursday’s Bush’s Beans 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway can be found here.
|RACE||Bush’s Beans 200|
|PLACE||Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee|
|DATE||Thursday, Sept. 16, 2021|
|TIME||6:30 p.m. ET|
|TV/LIVE STREAM||FS1 / Fox Sports App|
|RADIO||MRN / SiriusXM (XM channel 391, online channel 981)|
|TRACK LAYOUT||0.533-mile concrete oval|
|EVENT SCHEDULE||Thursday, Sept. 16: Practice at 2:30 p.m.; Qualifying at 4:30 p.m.; Race at 6:30 p.m. (All times ET)|
|@ARCA_Racing, @NASCARRoots, @BMSupdates, @FS1, @MRNRadio|
CREW CHIEF HANDOUT: The starting field for the Bush’s Beans is limited to 24 plus provisional positions. This event will be run under the 2021 ARCA Menards Series rules, procedures, regulations and specifications.
QUALIFYING: By timed session. All cars must make a qualifying attempt, and all drivers must practice before they can qualify.
RACE PIT STOP: Break pit stop procedure. Breaks at or near the conclusion of Laps 75 and 125. All cars will be required to make at least one pit stop prior to last 10 laps of race. No adding or moving tires to or from pit box once race has started.
The maximum tire allotment available for this event is as follows: The maximum tire use at track (total, “from home” plus purchased at track) for the event is 16. Per ARCA Rulebook, maximum number of tires allowed in pit box for use in race is eight (8).