Chris Buescher Victorious at Bristol, Kyle Busch Out of Playoffs

Chris Buescher Victorious at Bristol, Kyle Busch Out of Playoffs

Bristol marked the first elimination race of the playoff, ending the championship hopes of four drivers. Entering the race, Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon, Chase Briscoe, and Kevin Harvick found themselves below the cutline following hard luck at Darlington and Kansas. Throughout the course of the 500-lap event, the drivers at risk of elimination changed places numerous times as most of field encountered problems, leading to yet another non-playoff driver scoring the win.

LAP 1: The #10 of Aric Almirola secured the pole in qualifying and led the field to the green flag beside the #14 of Chase Briscoe.

CAUTION – LAP 41: The first yellow of the night came out when the #21 of Harrison Burton and the #15 of JJ Yeley both had right-front tires go flat. The #21 and the #15 made contact with the wall, despite that the incidents were unrelated to each other. During the yellow flag, several of the leaders pitted while Brad Keselowski, Chris Buescher and a few others stayed out to gain track position. Keselowski secured and held the lead on the restart.

LAP 83: The right-front tire problems continued when playoff driver, Austin Cindric, experienced a flat and scraped the wall while racing in 23rd place. Cindric had to make an unscheduled stop under green for new tires, which caused him to lose several laps.

CAUTION – LAP 91: While racing in the 5th position, the #12 of Ryan Blaney had a right-front tire failure which caused him to hit the wall in Turn 4. Almirola, who was racing behind Blaney, spun as he tried to avoid the #12 in the wall. Blaney’s night went from bad to worse when the left rear tire came off the car as he was leaving the pit box, suggesting the lugnut was not tightened during the stop.

STAGE 1 END – LAP 125: Brad Keselowski remained in P1 to finish the stage, picking up his first stage win of the season. Behind him – Christopher Bell, Kyle Busch, Chase Briscoe, and Kyle Larson rounded out the Top 5 and collected points. Keselowski’s teammate, Chris Buescher, got the lead on pit road and held onto the position after the restart.

CAUTION – LAP 138: After making contact with Austin Cindric, the #21 of Harrison Burton spun on the front stretch. While under caution, the #19 of Martin Truex Jr reported to his team that power-steering had failed.

LAP 175: The #23 of Bubba Wallace, who was running 4th at the time, began smoking from the right-front tire while he radioed to report that power-steering had failed on his car as well. Wallace was brought into the garage for repairs and only a few laps later, teammate Ty Gibbs was also called to pit road so the team could go under the hood.

CAUTION – LAP 195: The caution waved again for Harrison Burton when the right-front tire went flat and caused him to hit the wall. While trying to avoide Burton, Ty Dillon and Erik Jones made contact that led to the #43 of Jones spinning on the front stretch. While under the yellow flag, Truex Jr joined his Toyota teammates in the garage where he retired from the race due to the steering issue. Meanwhile, the #11 Toyota of Denny Hamlin also reported having issues with the power steering, though he remained on track for the restart.

CAUTION – LAP 233: Hamlin brought out the caution when the right-front tire went flat, causing him to slow on frontstretch. Chris Buescher, who had dominated the stage, surrendered the lead to make a pit stop, allowing the #20 of Christopher Bell to take the top spot.

STAGE 2 END – LAP 250: Christopher Bell held onto the lead and picked up the stage victory. Behind him – Ross Chastain, Chase Briscoe, Chase Elliott, and Kyle Busch rounded out the Top 5. Bell went on to dominate most of the final stage.

CAUTION – LAP 269: Kyle Busch, who raced in the Top 5 for the majority of the race, slowed as smoke began billowing out from under the hood of his #18 Toyota Camry. Busch immediately went to the garage where he retired from the race due to engine failure, his second of the playoffs. The caution was called for oil and water on the track from the #18 engine.

CAUTION – LAP 276: On the restart, the #99 of Daniel Suarez got loose in Turn 3 and made contact with the #47 of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Both cars spun, causing a major stack-up that included Alex Bowman, Tyler Reddick, and Austin Dillon who all sustained significant damage that ended Bowman’s and Dillon’s race.

CAUTION – LAP 355: The caution flag waved for debris in Turn 2 after Erik Jones and Austin Cindric both suffered another flat right-front tire.

LAP 388: Brad Keselowski in the #6 managed to take the lead and began setting a dominating pace as he had done earlier in the race.

LAP 397: The #22 of Joey Logano has to make an unscheduled stop under green after suffering a flat right-front tire.

LAP 414: While leading, Brad Keselowski slowed due to a flat right-front tire and made contact with the wall in Turn 2. This allowed Christopher Bell to reclaim the lead.

CAUTION – LAP 435: The faulty right-side tires struck again when the #20 of Bell slowed on backstretch and gave up the lead. When the field made their final pit stops under caution, both the #11 of Denny Hamlin and the #4 of Kevin Harvick left their pit boxes with a loose wheel, forcing them to back up and fix the lugnut. Chris Buescher’s team opted to take 2 tires while everyone else took four which allowed him to take the lead once again.

LAP 469: Joey Logano went the to garage and retired from the race due to a mechanical issue on his #22 Ford Mustang.

CHECKERED FLAG – LAP 500: Chris Buescher crossed the finish line 0.4-seconds ahead of Chase Elliott to claim his 2nd career victory 222 races after his first win at Pocono.

When the checkered flag waved, it was Kyle Busch, Tyler Reddick, Austin Dillon, and Kevin Harvick who were eliminated from the playoffs.

RESULTS:

  1. Chris Buescher
  2. Chase Elliott
  3. William Byron
  4. Christopher Bell
  5. Kyle Larson
  6. Ross Chastain
  7. AJ Allmendinger
  8. Cole Custer
  9. Denny Hamlin
  10. Kevin Harvick
  11. Michael McDowell
  12. Justin Haley
  13. Brad Keselowski
  14. Chase Briscoe
  15. Corey LaJoie
  16. Harrison Burton
  17. Cody Ware
  18. Todd Gilliland
  19. Daniel Suarez
  20. Austin Cindric
  21. Erik Jones
  22. Landon Cassill
  23. JJ Yeley
  24. BJ Mcleod
  25. Tyler Reddick
  26. Ty Dillon
  27. Joey Logano
  28. Aric Almirola
  29. Bubba Wallace
  30. Ryan Blaney
  31. Austin Dillon
  32. Alex Bowman
  33. Ricky Stenhouse Jr
  34. Kyle Busch
  35. Ty Gibbs
  36. Martin Truex Jr
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