NASCAR playoffs head to Bristol elimination race with Hendrick's two drivers in danger

NASCAR Playoffs head to Bristol Elimination Race

A strong start to the playoffs for Joe Gibbs Racing - two races, two victories, and two drivers locked at the second lap - has put Hendrick Motorsports in a precarious position heading into the first elimination race. Alex Bowman and William Byron will start at the finish line at Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday night, but reigning series champion Chase Elliott won't be able to breathe easily among his Hendrick teammates. Elliott's 19 points are good enough to mean a poor finish could see his attempt to repeat as Cup champion comes to a swift end.

Alex Bowman and William Byron
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The field of 16 riders is at least as tight as the 30 points that separate Kevin Harvick (sixth) and Tyler Reddick (14th), and Bristol is the kind of circuit that can turn the table around. Bristol is a beast of progressive banking, moving from 24 to 28 degrees on a racing surface 40 feet wide. Four drivers joined the field before the race: Hendrick driver Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin, and Martin Truex Jr., who have JGR consecutive wins to begin the playoff to secure a second-round slot.

Byron called Bristol the playoff stretch with the most margin of error and the greatest chance of success. 'Bristol's a difficult place. There's not a big difference between a good car and a bad car, "he continued. Whether narrow neighborhoods or traffic jams, a lack of patience or a lack of temperament can change the outcome.

Bowman won a career-high three races this season to begin the playoffs, tied with Truex Jr. and Ryan Blaney with five wins for second place in the Larson Cup lead. He is 13th overall, the first driver to cross the finish line, and tied for 12th with Kurt Busch. But in the first two playoff races, he wasn't good. He finished sixth in the spring race in Bristol, which was held on gravel after a late day due to dangerous rain and flooding. It's going to be an unpredictable race for the first round.

Bowman, however, said he was confident in Bristol and had confidence in the No. Bowman said he didn't think there was a sense of urgency, and I don't really think we expected to be in that situation. 'We knew it wasn't going to be easy. We knew we had to go out and execute and go out and have a good day.


His stunning Daytona 500 victory earned him his first playoff spot of his career, but his Front Row Motorsports team as underdogs, and they showed why. Kyle Larson was last in the standings after surviving the first playoff round at Darlington with a three-point penalty and a 24th-place finish at Richmond and needed an unlikely win to advance. Larson needed an upset, but not the Daytona 500, to survive the first round.

He likes Bristol, where he averages 30 in 21 career starts. He is 10th this spring and 14th this year.

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NASCAR playoffs head to Bristol elimination race with Hendrick's two drivers in danger NASCAR playoffs head to Bristol elimination race with Hendrick's two drivers in danger Reviewed by on September 19, 2021 Rating: 5

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