The NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs ended the Round of 16 in the Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway Saturday night (9/18). The elimination race meant four drivers saw their championship hopes for 2021 come to an end after the race.
The race had pretty much everything you would expect when the NASCAR Cup Series goes short trackin’ Saturday night at the race track they call the “Last Great Colosseum.” There was beatin’ and bangin’. There was bumpin’ and runnin’. There were tempers flarin’.
Early in the race it looked as though Denny Hamlin would be the car to beat. He was able to lead a lot of laps and win stage one. Kyle Larson looked to be the biggest contender to Denny as he also led a lot of laps and was able to win in stage two. Kyle ended the race with a race high 175 laps led.
Chase Elliott made a statement as another car that would have something to say about the outcome of the race. At the end of the race he was second on the laps led race with 129 laps out front.
In the third and final stage, Chase Elliott, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Larson were battling for the lead. Kevin went for a pass on Chase for the lead when the two cars came together. The result was Kevin taking the lead and Chase getting a flat tire. That angered Chase who thought Kevin raced him too hard and too close causing the contact and flat tire. Chase had to pit removing him from the chance to win the race.
With the laps winding down Kevin had the lead, but Chase was in front of him on the track. Chase raced Kevin very hard and took his line away. That allowed Kyle Larson to catch up to Kevin and eventually pass him with just a handful of laps remaining. Kyle was able to hold that lead and win the race. That gave Kyle his first win in the Cup Series at Bristol. It gave him his first win in the 2021 NASCAR Playoffs. It gave him his sixth win of the 2021 season.
Kevin Harvick took home a runner-up finish. Third place went to William Byron. Ryan Blaney finished in fourth place with Alex Bowman rounding out the top five. See the complete race results for the Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol here.
Aric Almirola and Kurt Busch started the race above the cut line. However, they both end the race below it. Tyler Reddick and Michael McDowell both started and finished the race below the cut line. These four drivers do not advance to the Round of 12 as championship contenders.
Alex Bowman and William Byron both started the Bristol race below the cut line. Both drivers were able to score enough points to end above the line and advance in the NASCAR Playoffs.
Thanks to his Playoff Points accumulated Kyle Larson starts the Round of 12 ranked at number one. Martin Truex Jr. starts the next round 30 points behind in second place. Ryan Blaney and Denny Hamlin are both 35 points behind Kyle with Ryan having the advantage and being ranked third ahead of Denny in fourth. Kyle Busch who came dangerously close to being eliminated Saturday night gets to start the Round of 12 in the fifth place ranking 37 points behind the lead. See the complete NASCAR Cup Series Playoff Standings here.
Next up in the post-season for the NASCAR Cup Series drivers and teams is the South Point 400 Sunday, September 26th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.