Battle for final transfer spot goes to Bristol


Forget about scenarios and who needs to finish where in next weekend’s cutoff race at Bristol Motor Speedway. Clint Bowyer is succinct about what he needs to do to advance to the second round.

“We’ve got to be great,” he said after finishing 10th Saturday night at Richmond Raceway.

Bowyer holds the final transfer spot to the second round of the playoffs by three points on William Byron. Cole Custer trails Bowyer by eight points. Matt DiBenedetto trails Bowyer by 25 points, and Ryan Blaney trails Bowyer by 27 points.

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On Bowyer’s side is that he finished second at Bristol in May.

“That’s a good track for us and a lot of fun and a track that I feel like I can win at some day, so there’s nothing to be scared about going to a track like that,” he said. “You’ve just got to go there and have fun with it like you always do on a short track and race your asses off. Hopefully that will be enough.”

Byron fell out of a transfer spot by placing 21st at Richmond, worst among the 16 playoff drivers.

“We ran horrible (Saturday night) and no excuse for that,” Byron said. “It was really kind of a slow death the entire race. So we’ll go to Bristol and regroup for that one.”

Byron struggled early. He was seventh on Lap 60. Byron fell to 16th on Lap 75 and was not a factor the rest of the race.

It seemed like every time that we entered the corner with any sort of brake pressure at all, we were pretty much locking the left front and sliding across the track,” Byron said. “We were really tight in. Typically, you’re loose in here and we were extremely tight into the corner, locking the left front up and having to get off the brake as quick as possible to keep the front tires turning. That just doesn’t make a lot of speed and anytime we tried to go any faster than that. We were just killing the front tires off the car.

“Pretty much just had to run around there about 80 percent most of the time and try to have something for the end of a run. But typically, we just fell off like a rock at the end of each run that we had to run out to our pit stop. With no cautions, it kind of is what it is.”

Custer finished 14th Saturday. He looks for a strong run next week at Bristol to advance in his first Cup playoff experience.

“I have mixed feelings about that,” he said about Bristol. “The first race I thought we were good. The All-Star Race I thought we struggled a little bit, so I think it’s a place I’ve had success at in the past. It’s just you’ve got to hit it perfect and we don’t have any practice.”