NASCAR Crash Course: Cup Series heavyweights knocked out in the Round of 16
NASCAR Crash Course: Cup Series heavyweights knocked out in the Round of 16. Only two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch is currently active. In the month of August, Kevin Harvick won two consecutive races.
Tyler Reddick has racked up four top-two finishes since the Fourth of July weekend, with two victories in that span.
There was no one among them to advance past the first round of the playoffs this season.
Three potential title candidates were eliminated after a wild opening three playoff races, culminating at Bristol Motor Speedway. After Busch blew a motor and was in danger of falling out, the remaining three drivers fought for the last remaining position.
Do not forget that in the past six seasons with Joe Gibbs Racing, Busch has experienced two engine problems. He won two of the three races that comprised this playoff.
After the event, Busch commented, “I don’t know what to say.” “Surprised as hell… Our everyday life does not look like this.”
That made room for Reddick, but he ended up getting entangled in a multi-car collision at Bristol’s high banks that wasn’t his fault. Reddick finished a remarkable 31 laps behind the leader after he and his Richard Childress Racing teammate Austin Dillon were both involved in an incident that ultimately cost Dillon his life.
Reddick claimed, “I witnessed the crash; I checked up.” I got run over.
With that, Harvick had the best chance of the three to move further. Harvick was in third place until a flat tire for Christopher Bell brought out the eleventh and final yellow flag. After three consecutive DNFs, he might win with a stellar pit stop in a track position race and move to the next round.
His pit team cracked under pressure, and he had to leave with only three tires.
Harvick answered simply when asked what he required to triumph: “Wheels gotta stay on.” It was a missed opportunity for the oldest full-time driver in the sport, 46 years old and whose contract with Stewart-Haas Racing expires next year.
The disarray cleared the decks for even more twists and turns in an already surprising season. In light of Harvick’s mishap, Chris Buescher, who hadn’t won a race in six years, could take advantage of the situation and win one of NASCAR’s most prestigious championships.
According to Buescher, “this has been the one I would take over any other race.” This is the one I’ve been looking for all my life.
It’s the first time in NASCAR postseason history that three drivers who didn’t make the playoffs have won the first three races. It’s predicted that the modern era record of 19 winners will be broken in the next few weeks, as many talented drivers (including Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Blaney, and even AJ Allmendinger) have yet to find victory lane this season.
It turned out that all you had to do to win this year’s playoffs was stay alive. With finishes of 16th, 12th, and 20th, rookie Austin Cindric stole a berth in Round 12, usually reserved for Busch, Harvick, or another past Cup winner.
After finishing a race at Bristol four laps behind the leader, Cindric commented, “I still don’t think this place loves me back.” But I think it showed me some kindness tonight, and I will take advantage of it.
Hendrick Motorsports (green) After a lackluster postseason run, this squad didn’t need to worry about its opponents for the crown, all of whom were eliminated before the final game. Each of their four drivers advanced to the Round of 12, and title favorites Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson both showed up to play at Bristol.
Brad Keselowski’s yellow car: Buescher’s win was Keselowski’s first as a driver/owner since he teamed up with Jack Roush to form RFK Racing this year. He led 109 laps and was in prime position to win until a late flat tire dropped him to 13th.
Yellow: Dale Earnhardt Jr. In a postseason he shouldn’t have missed, Truex’s bad luck continues. Seventy-two laps in the lead were lost due to two mechanical difficulties that caused DNFs in three separate races.
However, the problems at the short track go beyond a single weekend. Consider the 500-lap race at Martinsville in April; there were only five different leaders. The season finale at Daytona saw 39 different drivers take the lead in just 160 laps. With the Next Gen’s short-track kryptonite coming in 2023, NASCAR needs to take action now.
Here, we’re going to take a new approach. Noah Gragson, a rookie in the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series, has set a strange precedent by winning six races in this year’s NASCAR Xfinity Series, including Friday night’s event at Bristol.
He’s been doing the celebration burnout (we’ll let you look this one up) instead of waving a checkered flag.
Gragson has attributed his strange stomach problem to various causes, including the smoke from his squealing tires, his inability to breathe deeply when racing, and his consumption of too much White Claw during the pandemic.
He tends to recover quickly; after being sick in the front straightaway at Bristol, Gragson climbed the catch fence and shotgunned a beer minutes later.
For the time being, NASCAR is on board with it all because of Gragson’s distinctive attitude, making him a fan favorite.