Hendrick puts 3 cars in the top 5 on a mostly clean night in Bristol - Race Review Online

Hendrick puts 3 cars in the top 5 on a mostly clean night in Bristol – Race Review Online

Bristol, Tenn – The Bass Pro Shops night race on Saturday was an event that was survival of the fittest. In a race that saw 12 of the 16 NASCAR Cup Series drivers encounter some sort of problem, 3 of 4 who didn’t all reside at the same Hendrick Motorsports camp.

Team Penske saw all three cars have problems with the right front tires and would finish 20 (Austin Sendrick), 27 (Joey Logano) and 30 (Ryan Blaney).

Joe Gibbs Racing had tire problems for Christopher Bell (4th) and Denny Hamlin (9) with mechanical problems for Kyle Busch (34) and Martin Truex Jr (36). Even their alliance team at 23XI Racing had power steering issues as well which dropped them to 29th (Bubba Wallace) and 35th (Ty Gibbs).

RCR saw both drivers combined in the same crash on lap 276 that was sparked by Daniel Suarez (19). They finished 25th (Tyler Riddick) and 31st (Austin Dillon).

Column holder Eric Almerola had mechanical issues (28) and Kevin Harvick (10th) stalled poorly.

As a result, you default to a top 5 score when coming to the checkered flag with clean cars for Chase Elliott, William Byron and Kyle Larson.

Alex Bowman would probably have joined them if he had not been collected in the same crash on lap 276 that brought him to 32nd.

BRISTOL, TN – SEPTEMBER 16: Chase Elliott, driver of the #9 Chevrolet Hooters, prepares to practice for the NASCAR Series Night Bass Pro Shops Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on September 16, 2022 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Logan Riley/Getty Images)

However, Elliott was coming off the pit lane in second place after his final stop. He couldn’t get to Chris Bucher after the last restart and had to take second after crossing the finish line 458secs late.

“Yeah, I mean, I really liked my car,” he said. “I thought Hooters Chevrolet was driving really well, and frankly, I don’t think I could realistically ask for anything more balanced.

“I just needed to be able to do a better job on a few different trails. And then the top was second there at the end. The bottom was really good there early in the night and you could run in there for a long time, then as night fell it got better.” And best of all, this momentum was hard to beat.

“Unfortunately for me we couldn’t get to any traffic in the laps to get him moving, but we started there for those last three or four laps.

“I felt like we were making gains, but – I wasn’t close enough to do anything with him. But I appreciate the effort. We had a long day yesterday. He was able to get the fight back from a poor qualifying effort for second place, so proud of that.

“I am delighted to move forward, and I look forward to more opportunities here in the coming weeks.”

It was bittersweet for Elliot, who wants to win here so badly.

Long before the start of racing in the NASCAR Cup Series, Chase Elliott developed a special affinity with Bristol Motor Speedway and Bass Pro Shops Night Race.

“Yes, I think Bristol is that tag next to me for me, just because the environment here is so great,” Elliott said Friday before training for the Cup. “This fall race, at night, 500 laps – this was one of the events that, as a kid, was larger than life.

“You can’t get a ticket to this thing for five years. It was just one of those events that everyone wanted to attend, and if you weren’t there or weren’t talking about it in the early 2000s, you weren’t as alive as I thought” .

In fact, The Night Race helped shape Elliott’s decision to follow in the footsteps of his father, NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott.

“When I look back at that event and what I remember of it, this was one of the races that made me want to become a race car driver, honestly,” Elliott said.

“The environment here is second to none, and this event is special. I don’t see another date or path on our schedule that can rival what this environment is like on a Saturday night in August or September.”

Elliott has made 13 Cup Series start here now, 7 of which occur in the night race. One of those was the 2020 All-Star race he won. In races that pay points, it’s 0 for 12. It’s not like it’s never been close before.

Elliott was 3rd in 2018, 5th in 2019 and 7th in 2020, and while he was 25th last year, he ran a run with Kevin Harvick, cutting a tire and forcing him to an unscheduled stop while sprinting in second. . Elliott topped 129 laps last year. The second was Saturday night.

It was also a great opportunity for him to bring back his bad luck.

I wondered about this when Elliott was edging out second after finishing second in the middle of the summer. One could claim that Chase could have won all five races in this stretch. Despite Watkins Glen, Elliott had 5 spots in the top 5 in the seven race period.

Was it all too soon?

We’ve seen this in sports over the years. Peak difference too early. Others feel the heat in time and transfer that into a tournament. Did Elliott start his rise too early?

His last 3 entry matches for Bristol were 29, 36 and 11 respectively. He has finished outside the top 10 in 5 of his last 7 races. The only reason he’s safe for this round is because of his cut-off points. Elliott was still +28 on the streak running the race he just has to get into.

“Yeah, I knew that could happen,” Elliott said. “I don’t think anyone is safe. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy with the points and I’m glad we’ve had a good regular season so we can make it, but no one is safe in these rounds.

“And we want to do better too. We had a chance to win tonight, but we want to have a chance to win every week. I think we’re very capable of that. We just have to put it all together and do solid races.”

For Byron, he finished second in a row at number three here and capped a run where he finished eighth, sixth and third respectively.

Larson has finished 5th in his 2nd best 5 in the last 8 races, but has been in his 3rd best 10 in the last 5 races. He was also his seventh best 10 in Bristol’s last 8 attempts including 6 of 7 in the top six.

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