Saturday night’s NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs race at Bristol Motor Speedway did not disappoint. The Bass Pro Shops Night Race concluded the Round of 16 for the playoffs. With some drivers needing to make up some ground and others trying to maintain their lead in the points standings, it was clear coming in that it would be a wild affair? Kyle Larson managed to score his sixth victory of the season in a drama-filled race that saw tempers flare and some major shuffling around the cutline.
Read on for a full NASCAR recap and to find out who was able to advance on to the Round of 12 in the playoffs.
NASCAR Cup Series Recap | Kyle Larson Wins at Bristol
Bass Pro Shops Night Race Stage 1
Martin Truex Jr. led the field to the green flag and the race was underway. Chase Elliott hurried to get to the lead and held it through the competition caution. Kyle Larson eventually got by Elliott with the help of lapped traffic. Several laps later, Denny Hamlin did the same thing to Larson.
Hamlin and Larson battled it out for the stage win until Bubba Wallace took away Larson’s line. This helped the 23XI Racing team co-owner Hamlin pick up the stage win. Kurt Busch and Joey Logano were just barely able to stay on the lead lap at the end of the stage after each had problems early on.
Bass Pro Shops Night Race Stage 2
During the pit stops between stages, Chase Elliott got himself a speeding penalty. This forced him to restart at the back. Kyle Larson got the jump on the restart and got away for a little bit. Brad Keselowski was able to reel him back in though and took advantage of a bobble by the No. 5 car to get to the lead. Then, Hamlin came back into the fight and reclaimed the point position.
The first caution for cause came out for Ryan Newman as he tried to force a clearance that wasn’t there. Newman took himself out and collected Daniel Suarez and Cole Custer in the process. Bubba Wallace also sustained minor damage to his right front after failing to check up in time.
This caution wound up helping Aric Almirola as he had a leak in the oil line. The yellow saved him from having to go laps down and the pit crew did a great job of getting the line changed out quickly. Following the restart, B.J. McLeod and Anothony Alfredo came together to wreck and destroy some cars. After all of this, Larson managed to claim the Stage 2 victory.
Bass Pro Shops Night Race Stage 3
Kevin Harvick stayed out at the stage break and took over the lead to start the final stage. Ryan Blaney was able to stick with him and take over soon after, but Harvick had the better long-run car of the two. The No. 4 was able to get the lead back after applying steady pressure. Kyle Larson got the high line working though and he was able to take over the point.
A little while later, Quin Houff caused back-to-back cautions in a span of 20 laps. This bunched up the field and put more cars back on the lead lap. It also allowed everyone to make their final pit stops of the night under yellow. While racing for the lead after the restart, Denny Hamlin and Larson, made contact and cut down the No. 11 car’s right-front tire to bring out another caution.
Chase Elliott passed his Hendrick Motorsports teammate by on the ensuing restart for the lead. Kyle Busch, who was on the bubble to make the next round of the playoffs coming into the Bass Pro Shops Night Race, cut a tire and had to pit. No caution was thrown though.
Late in the race, Elliott and Harvick make contact in a racing ordeal as they battled for the lead. Elliott has a left-side tire go down as a result of the bump, and he was not happy.
After getting new tires on pit road, Elliott slammed into the side of Harvick as he rejoined the race off of the lead lap. Fresher tires enabled him to both get and stay ahead of the race-leading No. 4 car down the stretch. Elliott proceeded to take away Harvick’s line, allowing Kyle Larson to get by for the race win.
While the No. 5 team celebrated his NASCAR Cup Series-leading sixth win of the season, Harvick and Elliott exchanged pleasantries with each other on pit road.
Bass Pro Shops Night Race Final Thoughts
This was a thrilling race but was spoiled a bit by the last 40 laps. We literally watched a cry baby (Chase Elliott) who was two laps down hold up the leader (Kevin Harvick) and cost him the win just to spite him. At any rate, Bristol Motor Speedway never disappoints when it comes to entertainment though. This is part of the reason why it’s tough to understand why NASCAR turned the spring race into a dirt event.
NASCAR Playoffs Update and Eliminations
It was tough luck for the four playoff drivers who were eliminated from championship contention after the race. Aric Almirola, Tyler Reddick, Kurt Busch, and Michael McDowell all bowed out of the playoffs. Both Almirola and Busch actually entered Saturday’s race on the right side of the cutline. Meanwhile, Kyle Larson earns five more points to take with him for the remainder of the NASCAR Playoffs.
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