Hamlin takes Bristol Night Race;
Logano and Harvick are out of the NASCAR Cup playoffs
By Dave Hascall
(Bristol, TN) The Bristol night race is always full of action in the NASCAR Cup series, but Saturday’s 500 lapper also served as an elimination race in the season championship playoffs. Going into the race, regular-season champion Martin Truex Jr was uncharacteristically in danger of being eliminated. Kevin Harvick, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Brickyard winner Michael McDowell were also in danger of being eliminated.
Denny Hamlin has been in position to win the last two races but wasn’t able to close the deal. Hamlin, arguably the best active driver without a championship, took control of the race and romped to an easy victory at the Bristol Motor Speedway. Hamlin, who had enough points to move on to the next round, defeated Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell, Chris Buescher, and Ty Gibbs.
Truex had not-so-great of a night, hitting the wall, but his 19th place finish was able to catapult him to the round of 12. Unfortunately defending NASCAR Cup champion Joey Logano did not. Logano appeared safe but a lap 262 spin by Corey LaJoie, swept up several other cars including Logano’s Ford. His car was damaged beyond repair and he suddenly fell 4 points out of the transfer spot. Incredibly, he never fell further behind bubble driver Bubba Wallace. Wallace certainly didn’t have a stellar night, finishing 14th. Had Wallace dropped a few positions, Logano might have backed in to the next round. Also failing to advance were Harvick, Stenhouse Jr, and McDowell. McDowell was in the top five much of the night, eventually finishing sixth. McDowell could have punched his ticket with a win, which would’ve kept Wallace out.
The “Round of 8” starts Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway followed by the Talladega Superspeedway and the next elimination at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval on October 8.
Justin Allgaier won Friday’s Xfinity Series race (Dale Earnhardt Jr made a rare appearance, leading some of the race before his car caught fire) and Corey Heim captured the Camping World Truck Series race, both also at Bristol.
It was learned today that Truex Jr.’s longtime partner Sherry Pollex succumbed to her long battle with cancer. She was 44. We at The Blitz and TorchPro offer our thoughts and condolences to the Pollex and Truex families.