Daniel Suarez ‘lucky’ to escape Clint Bowyer spin, Matt DiBenedetto near-win

Leave a comment

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Daniel Suarez admits he got “lucky” twice Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway.

He was more enthusiastic about the first instance of luck, which struck on Lap 243.

That’s when his teammate and fellow winless driver, Clint Bowyer, accidentally cut down on the No. 27 of Quin Houff entering Turn 1, which sent Bowyer’s No. 14 Ford sliding toward the exit of Turn 2.

“It’s short track racing,” Bowyer said. “You’re making split decisions. I was trying to pass those two cars and get more stage points for us. I clipped him. It was nothing he did. I was just trying to shoot the gap. I had a run on those guys and was trying to do all I could.”

Bowyer’s car began backing up toward the outside wall, while Suarez’s No. 41 Ford was fast approaching the same area.

The two cars came so close to hitting, Suarez’s spotter mistakenly thought they had.

“I’m probably a little lucky and a little good,” Suarez said after his eighth-place finish. “It worked out pretty good. It was tight, it was pretty, pretty tight.”

Avoiding his teammate allowed him to benefit from pit strategy.

With the caution coming so close to the end of Stage 2, most of the leaders visited the pits. But Suarez stayed out and managed to finish second, earning nine stage points.

Those points, along with his eighth-place finish put him 16th in points with two races left in the regular season. He has a two-point advantage over Bowyer, who failed to earn any stage points Saturday night.

“I feel like that was probably the biggest thing of the day,” Suarez said of the move to stay out at the end of the stage. “I feel like that was an amazing call from my crew chief Billy Scott.”

Suarez was less enthusiastic about where else he was lucky. Denny Hamlin passed Matt DiBenedetto with 12 laps to go and raced to his fourth win of the year. That deprived DiBenedetto of his first win of the year and means there’s still seven spots left in the 16-driver playoff field.

“I feel like he deserved the win, but you never know how things are going to work out,” Suarez said of DiBenedetto. “I feel like I have to do my race and let everything else play out by itself. I can control that. I would tell you that in a way I’m kind of lucky that he didn’t win. But I wish he was winning the race because he’s an amazing driver, he deserves a ride.”

Bowyer, who survived his spin and fought back to finish seventh, was very mellow after his first top-10 finish in five races.

“All in all it was a good weekend for us. Kind of a rebound weekend, what we needed,” Bowyer said. “We did all we could do. I was hoping to be a top-five car and when you’re a top-five car here you’ve got a chance to win. But we were just a beat off of that all night.”

Bowyer said on a short track like Bristol “you’re not worried about” points.

“You’re worried about keeping up with the race track, keeping up with your adjustments, traffic and stuff like that,” Bowyer said. “You don’t have time to screw with that.”

But with two races left in the regular season, Bowyer and his Stewart-Haas Racing team have even less time to screw around before the playoffs begin.

“Gotta do what we gotta do,” Bowyer said. “Let’s go race, you know what I mean? Just got to perform the way we can perform and do our thing.”

When it came to a playoff spot being saved by DiBenedetto not winning, Bowyer said “I hate it for that guy. He’s racing for a job and everything else.”

Xfinity race results, point standings after Bristol

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Chase Briscoe led the final six laps and won Friday night’s Xfinity Series race at Bristol for his seventh win of the season.

Briscoe beat Ross Chastain for the win. The top five was completed by Austin Cindric, Harrison Burton and Justin Allgaier.

Click here for the race results.

Playoff standings

The 12-driver field for the playoffs has been set with Briscoe’s win in the regular-season finale.

Brandon Brown placed 12th and clinched the 12th and final spot.

Here are the re-seeded point standings entering the playoffs.

Chase Briscoe – 2,050 points

Austin Cindric – 2,050

Justin Allgaier – 2,033

Noah Gragson – 2,025

Brandon Jones – 2,020

Justin Haley – 2,018

Harrison Burton – 2,014

Ross Chastain – 2,010

Ryan Sieg – 2,002

Michael Annett – 2,002

Riley Herbst – 2,001

Brandon Brown – 2,000

Click here for the re-seeded standings.

Click here for the normal point standings.

Chase Briscoe wins Xfinity race at Bristol Motor Speedway

Leave a comment

Chase Briscoe took the lead with six laps to go and won Friday night’s Xfinity Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway, which marked the end of the regular season.

Briscoe passed Austin Cindric to assume the lead and went unchallenged to the checkered flag. The victory is his series-leading seventh of the season.

“I was so mad after last week (at Richmond),” Briscoe told NBCSN. “I told all the guys there ain’t no way we’re getting beat today. I was so mad after how we ran last week and I get on the internet all the time and see guys count us out after one bad race and I know what this team is capable. … I finished second here the last two races and I wanted to win here so bad and it’s awesome that I can actually celebrate it with all these race fans.”

The top five was completed by Ross Chastain, Cindric, Harrison Burton and Justin Allgaier.

More: Race results, playoff standings

Allgaier dominated the early portion of the race, leading 126 laps and winning the first two stages. But he lost the lead for good in the pits during the Stage 2 break.

Brandon Brown finished 12th and clinched the 12th and final playoff spot.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Justin Allgaier

STAGE 2 WINNER: Justin Allgaier

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Ross Chastain led three times for 117 laps, but had to settle for his fifth runner-up finish of the season without a win … Austin Cindric earned his 13th top-10 finish in the last 14 races … Harrison Burton earned his 13th top five of the season.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Brett Moffitt finished 27th after he had to pit three times in the opening laps and was penalized for taking fuel before the competition caution … BJ McLeod finished 34th after he was eliminated in a multi-car wreck that began when he made contact with teammate Jeffrey EarnhardtMichael Annett finished 31st and Joe Graf Jr. placed 27th after they were involved in an incident on Lap 120.

QUOTE OF THE RACE: “I hit pit road and I wanted to cry.” – Ross Chastain after he finished second for the fifth time this year. He is winless entering the playoffs.

WHAT’S NEXT: The Xfinity playoffs open at Las Vegas Motor Speedway at 7:30 p.m. ET on Sept. 26 on NBCSN.


Fans not allowed at Las Vegas races

Fans not allowed
Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Spectators will be not be allowed for any of the NASCAR playoff races next weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the track announced Friday night.

A press release said only essential personnel will be allowed to attend the Cup, Xfinity and Truck playoff races there.

“To say we’re disappointed that we will conduct the South Point 400 playoff weekend without fans would be a gross understatement,” said Las Vegas Motor Speedway President Chris Powell. “Our staff has been working – many of them remotely – since the February Pennzoil 400 to prepare the speedway for our playoff tripleheader.

“But we must adhere to Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak’s directive that limits gatherings due to COVID-19.  While we disagree with this policy, we have no choice but to oblige.  We certainly regret this situation for the thousands of race fans who won’t be able to attend our NASCAR-weekend events.”

Nevada’s re-opening plan does not permit fans at sporting events, concerts. Groups are limited to 50 or fewer people.

The Las Vegas Raiders announced last month that they would not have fans at any of the team’s home games in its inaugural season there.

The Truck playoff race will be at 9 p.m. ET Sept. 25 on FS1. The Xfinity playoff opener will be at  7:30 p.m. ET Sept. 26 on NBCSN. The Cup playoff race will be 7 p.m. ET Sept. 27 on NBCSN.

Fans holding tickets for those events will be contacted by the speedway ticket services department to discuss credits for future races or refunds.

Pit crew change for Alex Bowman, Jimmie Johnson teams

Leave a comment

Hendrick Motorsports teammates Alex Bowman and Jimmie Johnson each will have a pit crew change for Saturday night’s playoff race at Bristol.

The change is the result of an injury to one pit crew member.

Dustin Lineback, jackman for Bowman’s team is out with an injury, the team stated. Kyle Tudor, who has been Johnson’s jackman, moves over to that role for Bowman’s team. Eric Ludwig, a backup for Hendrick Motorsports, moves up to be the jackman for Johnson.

MORE: Saturday Cup race at Bristol: Start time, forecast, lineup

Bowman enters the elimination race 27 points ahead of teammate William Byron, the first driver outside a transfer spot to the second round. Bowman opened the playoffs by finishing sixth in the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. He followed that by placing ninth at Richmond. Bowman was collected in a crash and finished 37th in the May Bristol race.

Johnson, who is in his final full-time Cup season, seeks his first victory of the season. He finished third at Bristol in May.