NASCAR Crash Course: Heavyweight Cup Series exit in Round of 16

NASCAR Crash Course: Heavyweight Cup Series exit in Round of 16

Kyle Busch is the only active two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion. Kevin Harvick won back-to-back races in August. Tyler Reddick has had four runner-up spots, including two wins, since the Fourth of July weekend.

None of them made it past the first round of playoffs this year.

The chaotic first three post-season races reached their climax at Bristol Motor Speedway, eliminating three of the championship’s contenders to move forward. The three found themselves fighting for last place after Bosch blew out an engine, leaving him vulnerable to a fall.

Keep in mind that Busch has had two engine failures in the past six seasons with Joe Gibbs Racing. During this match, he had two of them over the course of only three races.

Then Bush said, “I don’t know what to say.” “I’m surprised… that’s not our nature.”

That opened the door for Riddick, only to get stuck in car wrecks he hadn’t made in the high banks of Bristol. has crashed Who eliminated Richard Childress Racing’s teammate Austin Dillon, left Reddick limping home for 31 laps off the pace.

“I saw the meltdown happen, I checked,” Riddick said. “I just got run over.”

That put Harvick in the best position to get ahead of the three. When Christopher Bell’s punctured tire brought the eleventh and final warning flag, Harvick was third. A big stop in the track position race would earn him the win needed to advance after three consecutive DNFs.

Instead, the pit crew swerved under pressure – and his car swerved after leaving with only three tires on the car.

When asked what he needs to win, Harvick was directly: “Wheels to survive”. You missed a huge opportunity for the sport’s oldest full-time driver (46 years old) who only has one year on his current contract with Stewart-Haas Racing.

The chaos left room for more surprises in a season filled with it. Chris Bucher, who hasn’t won a race in six years, took advantage of Harvick’s misfortune to lead 169 laps and win one of NASCAR’s crown jewel events.

“That was the race I’d take any other race in,” Boecher said. “This is the person I’ve wanted forever.”

That’s three non-winning drivers who won the first three post-season races, a streak never seen in the entire post-season era in NASCAR (2004-present). This season’s 19 winners set a modern-day record that’s expected to be broken in the coming weeks, as there is still a long list of capable drivers (Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Blaney, even AJ Allmendinger) who haven’t broken through.

Turns out, just surviving was the way forward in this year’s playoff. Rookie Austin Cindric needed rounds at 16th, 12th and 20th just to steal a spot in the round of 12 usually reserved for Bush, Harvick or another former cup champion.

“I still don’t think this place likes me again,” Cendrick said of the Bristol race where he ended up having four laps. “But maybe show me a little mercy tonight, so I’ll take her and run with her.”

Traffic report

Green color: Hendrick Motorsports. A post-season start has been enough for this team, which has seen three top title contenders eliminated. All four of their drivers advanced to the round of 12 while championship favorites Chase Elliott (second) and Kyle Larson (fifth) played a final round in Bristol.

yellow: Brad Keselowski. Keselowski has been happy with Buescher, his first win as a driver/owner since joining Jack Roush and forming RFK Racing this season. But having led himself 109 laps, the victory would have been his until a punctured tire left him late in the lap in 13th.

red: Martin Truex Jr. Truex’s bad luck continued without a win during a playoff he shouldn’t have missed. Two DNFs in three races were wasted, for both mechanical issues, 72 laps during this stretch.

Speed ​​ticket: The Next Generation Short Track Package. Bristol recorded just 12 lead changes Saturday night, the lowest total in 13 years on a racetrack called Thunder Valley for the constant excitement. The race fell, just like a wave of Goodyear’s right front tires that blew out more than a dozen drivers without much notice.

“It’s hard to pass,” said Kevin Harvick. “The cars are going really fast in the corners.”

This burden proved to be too great, leaving explosions beyond the driver’s or crew chief’s control. NASCAR has to bear some responsibility here, along with Goodyear for failing to find the right balance.

But the struggles of the short track run deeper than just one weekend. Take Martinsville in April: This 500-lap race produced only five major changes on its own. By comparison, Daytona 39’s regular season finale saw a lead change in just 160 laps. NASCAR needs to tackle the short-path kryptonite that the next generation brings into 2023.

Oops!

We’re going in a different direction here. Rookie of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series Noah Gragson has started an odd tradition of winning six NASCAR Xfinity Series races this year — including Bristol on Friday night. Instead of waving a checkered flag around him, for example, he was vomiting right away after getting out of his car and doing a festive exhaustion (we’ll let you watch this).

Gragson blamed the strange stomach problem on anything from smoke from the screeching tires to He held his breath during the last laps of the race to me Drink a lot of white claw during the pandemic. He appears to be recovering quickly. In Bristol, Gregson climbed the fishing trap and ended up shoot a beer Minutes after you fall ill immediately.

For now, NASCAR is on board with all of that because Gragson’s unique personality makes him a fan favourite.


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