Clint Bowyer races from bottom four to next playoff round

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“God almighty.”

Whether a praise to the heavens or a statement of shock – or a combination of both – that’s how Clint Bowyer began his press conference after finishing third in the inaugural Bank of America Roval 400.

Somehow, someway, Bowyer survived the 109-lap race to earn his best result since placing third at Sonoma in June. He also raced his way into the second round of the playoffs.

That was after he entered the elimination race as one of four drivers on the outside looking into the top 12 who would advance. Bowyer began the day 14th on the starting lineup and four points out of the cutoff spot.

Unlike Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson and Erik Jones, Bowyer’s chances at a title are still alive.

Since the introduction of the elimination format in 2014, Bowyer’s achievement is the 12th time a driver entered a cutoff race in the bottom four and drove their way into the next round.

It’s the fifth time a driver has advanced to Round 2 after entering the elimination race below the cutoff.

“Our day in particular, we knew we needed an opportunity,” Bowyer said. “You knew some people were going to have trouble. You try to make sure that you’re not one of those people.”

Beginning at 5 a.m. Sunday when his son Cash woke up, Bowyer had plenty of time to think about where there would be opportunities on Charlotte Motor Speedway’s 17-turn, 2.28 mile course.

“It wasn’t much sleep the last couple nights,” Bowyer said. “Once you’re up, you start thinking about this gremlin that’s ahead of you today, there wasn’t any more sleeping. I stood there and watched the sun come up thinking about the chicane on the back straightaway, thought about the chicane on the front straightaway, thought about Turn 8, how I was going to get off that. I hit the wall in Turn 8 (oval Turn 1). Just thought about restarts and things like that.”

Bowyer managed to finish third in Stage 1 for eight points and fifth in Stage 2 for six points.

Bowyer then kept his No. 14 Ford from being one of 15 cars that got a piece of the wreck in Turn 1 with six laps to go.

On the final restart, he was sixth.

“It was a lot of fun to be able to compete,” Bowyer said. “Nerve‑racking as hell on our part, but nonetheless, it was a lot of fun, challenge. … But heartburn, that was a heartburn, ended up being a heartburn on a lot of people’s parts.”

But Bowyer’s heartburn was worthwhile as he joins all three of his Stewart-Haas Racing teammates in Round 2.

Bowyer’s advancement in the playoffs comes a year after Kyle Busch was the only driver to enter an elimination race below the cutoff line and advance. He did so to advance to the third round.

In 2016, Austin Dillon did it in Round 1 and was followed by Hamlin in Round 2 and then Carl Edwards advanced from Round 3 to the championship race.

In 2015, Kyle Busch did it twice, advancing into Round 2 and 3 from the below the cutoff on his way to winning the title. Kevin Harvick also did it to advance into Round 2.

2014 saw Hamlin race his way into Round 2 and eventually make the championship race. Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski followed the next round and Harvick finished second in the final cutoff race at Phoenix to advance to the championship race, where he claimed his first Cup title.

NASCAR suspends Chase Elliott one race for incident with Denny Hamlin


NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one Cup race for wrecking Denny Hamlin in Monday’s Coca-Cola 600, the sanctioning body announced Tuesday.

“We take this very seriously,” Elton Sawyer, senior vice president of competition, said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “The incident that happened off Turn 4, again after looking at all the available resources — in-car camera, data, SMT, which basically gives us (a car’s) steering, throttle, gives us braking — it was an intentional act by Chase in our opinion.”

Hendrick Motorsports stated that it would not appeal the penalty. Corey LaJoie will drive the No. 9 car for Hendrick Motorsports this weekend at World Wide Technology Raceway. Carson Hocevar will drive LaJoie’s car this weekend.

Hendrick Motorsports also stated that it would submit a waiver request for Elliott to remain eligible for the playoffs. Sawyer said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that “I don’t see any reason at this point in time why wouldn’t (grant the waiver) when that request comes across our desk.”

This weekend will mark the seventh race in the first 15 that Elliott will have missed. He missed six races after breaking his leg in a snowboarding accident in early March. Elliott, who is winless this season, is 29th in points.

Elliott and Hamlin got together shortly before the halfway mark in Monday’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

As they ran together, Hamlin forced Elliott toward the wall. Elliott’s car slapped the wall. Elliott then made contact with the right rear of Hamlin’s car, sending Hamlin into the wall.

“I got right-rear hooked in the middle of the straightway,” Hamlin said after the incident. “Yes, it was a tantrum. He shouldn’t be racing next week. Right-rear hooks are absolutely unacceptable. He shouldn’t be racing.”

Said Sawyer on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio: “In the heat of the battle, things happen, but they have to learn to react in a different way. … Our drivers need to understand that you have to handle that in a completely different way than hooking someone in the right rear and putting them in harm’s way, not only with just a major head-on collision like Denny had, but also other competitors.”

Sawyer also said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that “nothing gave us the indication that on that particular contact with the fourth-turn wall … that anything was broke” on Elliott’s car and could have caused him to come down and hit Hamlin’s car in the right rear.

NASCAR also announced that Scott Brzozowski and Adam Lewis, crew members on Michael McDowell‘s team, had each been suspended two races after McDowell’s car lost a tire in Monday’s race.

Winners and losers at Charlotte Motor Speedway


A look at winners and losers from Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway:


Ryan Blaney — Blaney stopped his winless streak at 59 races and gave team owner Roger Penske his second major race victory in two days. Blaney had the best car but had to fight through restarts late in the race to win.

William Byron — Byron, the winningest driver this season, barely missed getting victory No. 4. He finished second and scored his fifth straight top 10.

Martin Truex Jr. — Truex logged his third top five of the season.

23XI RacingBubba Wallace was fourth and Tyler Reddick fifth, giving 23XI Racing a pair of top-five finishes for the first time in a points race.


Jimmie Johnson — The seven-time champion admitted having problems adjusting to the Next Gen car on a 1.5-mile track. He crashed early and finished last.

Legacy Motor Club — It was a bad night for Jimmie Johnson and his team’s drivers. Johnson finished last in the 37-car field. Noah Gragson was 36th. Erik Jones placed 32nd.

Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin — Two drivers who had strong cars didn’t make it to the finish after crashing near the halfway point. Hamlin said Elliott “shouldn’t be racing next week. Right-rear hooks are absolutely unacceptable. He shouldn’t be racing.”

NASCAR Xfinity Series results: Justin Allgaier wins at Charlotte


CONCORD, N.C. — Justin Allgaier finally broke through for his first win of the NASCAR Xfinity Series season Monday night.

Allgaier stretched his last fuel load over the final laps to finish in front of John Hunter Nemechek. Cole Custer was third, Austin Hill fourth and Ty Gibbs fifth. Gibbs ran both races Monday, completing 900 miles.

The win also was the first of the season for JR Motorsports.

Charlotte Xfinity results

Xfinity points after Charlotte

Justin Allgaier wins NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway


CONCORD, N.C. — Justin Allgaier won a fuel-mileage gamble to win Monday night’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Allgaier stretched his fuel to outlast second-place John Hunter Nemechek. Following in the top five were Cole Custer, Austin Hill and Ty Gibbs.

The victory was Allgaier’s first of the year and the first of the season for JR Motorsports. He has 20 career wins.

MORE: Charlotte Xfinity results

After a long day at CMS, the race ended at 11:25 p.m. The race started Monday morning but was stopped twice because of weather before it was halted with 48 of 200 laps completed so that the Coca-Cola 600 Cup Series race could be run.

When the race was stopped, Gibbs, Nemechek and Allgaier were in the top three positions.

Gibbs won the first two stages.

Stage 1 winner: Ty Gibbs

Stage 2 winner: Ty Gibbs

Who had a good race: Justin Allgaier has had good cars in previous races but finally cashed in with a win Monday. He led 83 laps. … John Hunter Nemechek, in second, scored his fifth top-two run of the season. … Cole Custer scored his sixth straight top-10 finish. … Ty Gibbs lasted 900 miles for the day and led 52 laps in the Xfinity race.

Who had a bad race: Sam Mayer was running 10th when he spun off Turn 2. He finished 35th. … Sheldon Creed finished three laps down in 28th.

Next: The series moves on to Portland International Raceway in Oregon for a 4:30 p.m. ET race June 3.