Kevin Harvick held off top challenger Kyle Busch on Saturday night, notching his ninth victory of the NASCAR Cup Series season as the playoff field was trimmed from 16 to 12 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Harvick’s No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford led 226 of the 500 laps in the annual Bass Pro Shops Night Race, which was held during the playoffs for the first time. His third win at the .533-mile Tennessee track was the 58th of his Cup Series career.
Busch finished second for the fourth time this season in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, extending his season-long winless skid to 29 races. Erik Jones took third place with rookie Tyler Reddick fourth and Aric Almirola fifth.
Harvick and Brad Keselowski had already clinched spots in the next three-race set in the 10-race postseason, on the basis of wins earlier in the Round of 16. Denny Hamlin was already in the Round of 12 with his points edge. Joey Logano, Chase Elliott, Busch, Austin Dillon, Alex Bowman, Martin Truex Jr., Clint Bowyer, Almirola and Kurt Busch also advanced on points.
Eliminated from the playoffs were rookie Cole Custer, William Byron, Ryan Blaney and Matt DiBenedetto.
Byron’s fate was the first one settled. His No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet retired after just 232 of 500 laps, sustaining terminal front-end damage in a tangle with Christopher Bell and Joey Gase. Byron finished 38th in the 40-car field.
DiBenedetto fell three laps down after making an unscheduled pit stop with the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford for a loose wheel on Lap 186. He rallied to return to the lead lap early in Stage 3 but wound up three laps back in 19th and out of the playoffs.
The NASCAR Cup Series’ next race is the South Point 400, scheduled Sept. 27 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The event is the first of three races in the postseason’s Round of 12.
THE FRATERNAL ORDER OF THE GO FAST
As NASCAR closes out its first round in the playoffs, the round of 16, one of our players, Carole, aka Rudy, was right on the money in her Bristol selection! Rudy racked up 57 timely 3rd segment points with her choice of Freaky Fast Kevin Harvick Saturday night.
THE MOVERS AND THE SHAKERS
Amber The Extremely Lucky Cheddar Head was the second highest scorer with 54 points from her pick of Kyle Busch. Additionally, those points from ol Rowdy rockets her to the top of the scoring pylon this week.
Meanwhile, Carlton The Doorman, who has been flying below the radar recently, dropped a big number on us when the checkered flag fell at “Thunder Valley”. The Doorman made many in the fantasy league envious by depositing 48 points from Chase Elliott’s 7th place finish.
Next on the list of top five scorers is Jim, aka Chiefy. Ol Chiefy was betting the farm on Joey Logano at the “high banked blender”! Although Sliced Bread did not deliver a victory to Chiefy, he did deposit 35 points into his 3rd segment bucket!
Rounding out the top five race scorers includes a really weird and strange trio. This threesome comprises such divergent players as Dan The Numbers Cruncher, Snoopy Dawn, and Leon Your Most Humble Sheriff! These players were putting all their marbles into the marble sack of the soon to possibly be unemployed at the completion of the Phoenix race, Clint Bowyer. Notwithstanding this prognostication by Your Most Humble Sheriff, Bowyer rallied and produced 34 points for this trio.
On the movement front, Bristol produced significant changes from within the scoring pylon. The only player who still occupies her previous spot is Bernie The Bay Area Bandit!
The biggest mover Saturday evening is Carole, aka Rudy, who catapulted up the leaderboard three (3) spots to reside in 4th place.
Both Dan the Numbers Dude and Snoopy Dawn moved two (2) spots at the end of the race. The Numbers Dude stepped up his game this weekend and moved up two places vacating The Outhouse and taking up residence on 9th place. Snoopy, conversely, didn’t have such a good race this weekend, dropping down to own 5th place.
The remaining seven players, Amber The Extremely Lucky Cheddar Head, Leon Your Most Humble Sheriff, Carlton The Doorman, Jeremy The Coach, Jim,aka Chiefy, Linda The Cookie Mom, as well as Edie The Las Vegas Super Star all moved next door to their previous abodes. The Cheddar Head and The Doorman elevated their position one spot to hold down the 1st and 3rd places, respectively. However, The Sheriff, The Coach, Chiefy, The Cookie Mom, and The Vegas Super Star dropped one position to control 2nd, 6th, 7th, 10th, and 11th, respectively.
STRAIGHT FROM THE CRAPPER
Once again this week we get celebrate a two-fer! Edie The Las Vegas Super Star fell on hard times this weekend. She was rooting loudly and banking on a good finish from Blazingly Bad Brad Keselowski at Bristol, but that was not in the crystal ball. The Vegas Super Star was only able to muster up a single digit this week, seven (7) points, and that enabled her to inherit The Crappiest Pick of The Week award. Additionally, because of that single digit score The Super Star was handed the keys to The Outhouse this week!
This week the haulers head out west to Las Vegas. I am feeling depressed since this is one of the races that I get media credentials for. In fact, I am not sure if NASCAR is going to let any of us into the media center at the Phoenix championship weekend, either. I am bummed!
TIL NEXT TIME, PULL YOUR BELTS TIGHT AND LET’S GO RACIN’!