Bristol, Tenn. – On a night when attrition turned an incredible 500 laps at Bristol into a series of mathematical equations, and one of the most tense battles for center involved a damaged car on the track and one loaded into the team hauler truck, it was perhaps not surprising that any A breakaway driver with connections – past, present and future – to Pritchard Childress Racing from contending for the title.
Kyle Bush He was “stunned” after his second engine failure on this tour which means he won’t win the championship in his final season with Joe Gibbs Racing. His next attempt for the title will come in the #8 car of Richard Childress Racing in 2023.
Tyler Riddick8, the current driver of vehicle number 8, was also disqualified after his vehicle was damaged in an accident and was unable to gain sufficient positions. Riddick (25) and Bosch (34) each finished two points behind the winning Daytona 500 Austin Cendrick – who overcame multiple tire failures and finished seven laps behind winner Chris Bucher in 20th place – to finish last in qualifying.
This was the first time both Harvick and Busch had been eliminated in the first round.
“If I finish my media obligations and NASCAR fires me, I’m going home,” Bush said after exiting the event. “I have children at home.”
Harvick saw that his chances of winning – essentially his only way to advance – ended when a wheel wasn’t stretched and fell, forcing him back to his stall for his last stop. What should have been a 10-12 second pause took over 30 seconds.
“I just went from being an opportunity to lead the show to being part of the show,” Harvick said.
But that was more than two previous champions out of the title fight. This was blowing tires, malfunctioning steering systems, an engine vomiting smoke and fluid and whatever else in a smoke curtain nearly wiped out Cendrick.
Chris Jabhardt, Chief of Staff Denny Hamlinpredicted Mayhem last week in Kansas, telling NBC Sports that the Bristol race was the “last challenge for the next generation car”.
Nothing from the spring race has moved on the dirt. Other concrete tracks differ by Bristol and motor demand. There were concerns about how much this new car could hold.
The result was a mixture of mishaps that forced drivers and crew chiefs to recalculate points, refine priorities and refocus on the task at hand.
Cendric had done four laps before the race reached a hundred laps. His hopes for progress seemed to have expired. With such a long night ahead of him, he had to find a way to stay motivated.
“I think the funny thing is that when I’m preparing for these races, I don’t have a lot of weight to lose, a lot to burn, so I always hydrate a ton,” he said. “I was just sitting there (in the car) thinking, ‘You know what, you got wet for a reason, you have to pee really bad for a reason. You can also use it (as motivation).
“So I’d say it’s motivating little things that might be a little weird, I don’t know, but I come prepared and maybe give it all we got.”
Yes, that’s a strange motive, but it worked.
Things changed dramatically when Bosch’s engine blew out on lap 270.
“It happened right in front of me,” Cendrick said. “Smoke was coming up, he stopped right away and I ran toward his back. I had a front row seat for everything that happened. I guess that’s what happens when you’re in the back.”
Cindric’s chances of restarting improved when several cars crashed, including Reddick’s, Dillon’s, and Daniel Suarez.
The accident started when Suarez went out of his normal form, flagged another car and led to a jam. Dillon tried to continue but eventually ran out of time on the damaged car policy. Riddick finished 31 laps behind due to needed repairs. Suarez continued, finished six laps behind the leader in 19th, and is good enough to get ahead.
Cindric later got a wave and got enough points to get ahead of Busch and Reddick.
When the checkered flag waved at the oddity, Cindric’s crew chief, Jeremy Bollins, threw a fierce arm-pump in celebration and threw those around him into the pit box.
“Obviously you’re not celebrating a win, but an achievement,” he told NBC Sports.
It is in the next round of the Cup qualifiers and one can only imagine what will happen.
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