If you watched Saturday night’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway, then you already know the major highlights. Kyle Larson cruised to victory, Kevin Harvick and Chase Elliott had a heated altercation on pit road, and as the Cup playoffs narrowed from the Round of 16 to the Round of 12, four drivers were eliminated from contention.
Tyler Reddick, Kurt Busch, Aric Almirola, and Michael McDowell were among those eliminated, and they all faced distinct issues during the race.
Reddick, who encountered several problems throughout the playoffs, had to deal with a loose lug nut on the right rear tire halfway through the race, and could never make up the ground he lost by pitting. He finished 12th.
“Unfortunately, we certainly gave up more than two spots over the course of this first round,” Reddick said following the race.
“Darlington, getting stuck down a lap at Richmond. Not just one key opportunity, but there was a number that was the difference. One situation, the situation tonight, doesn’t really stick out as the one that makes it sting. It was just unfortunate getting to the playoffs, we don?t really have the pace that we had to just point our way into the playoffs leaderboard. Missed it by two. Have the races we did, it kind of all adds up. For us to miss it by two and run the way we did isn’t a surprise.”
Busch, who finished 19th, wasn’t able to solidly handle his No. 1 car and finished six points behind William Byron, who snagged the final playoff spot.
“Really disappointing effort today,” Busch said. “That was not a championship-type effort. We missed it big time. We had bad luck last week and we have no shot at a championship this year. We have to race for pride, dignity and honor for the next few weeks.”
“The team is shutting down and we’re eliminated early. That’s not the way we wanted this to go. Maybe we can crawl our way back up to a fifth to tenth-range in points. But tonight was not a night to miss the setup.”
Finishing two points behind Byron, Aric Almirola ultimately placed 18th, and while he made a valiant effort to come back following an oil leak, it wasn’t enough to get the job done.
“It was frustrating,” Almirola said. “I’m disappointed to have it end like that just because we had battled so much adversity throughout the night and got ourselves in position to where we were running top 10 and doing what we needed to do, and then that caution came out there at the end where we had 18 laps on our tires and we stayed out, and for whatever reason when we re-fired on those tires the car was up on top of the racetrack, skating, wouldn’t turn, I didn’t have any side bite and just struggling.”
“I don’t know. That’s not the way we wanted it to end, but we’ll keep going and battle it out the rest of the playoffs and see if we can’t finish inside the top 10 in points.”
Michael McDowell’s chances of advancing were a tall order, seeing as he had to win to move on. A 24th place finish ended any hopes of a title run for the 36-year-old driver for Front Row Motorsports.
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