Bristol Dirt winners and losers

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Take a look at the winners and losers from Sunday night’s race on the dirt at Bristol Motor Speedway

WINNERS

Kyle BuschRight place, right time. After frustration in Las Vegas led him to accuse Alex Bowman of backing into victories, Busch did just that (and acknowledged as much) Sunday at Bristol. Busch was running third when race leader Tyler Reddick was sent spinning after a desperate move from Chase Briscoe went awry in the final corner on the final lap. Busch beat Reddick to the line by 0.33 seconds and returned to victory lane for the first time since Pocono in June 2021. Busch has shown speed throughout the first third of the regular season but various issues negated his chances to win. A third-place finish would have been a respectable run. A win is even better, especially as Joe Gibbs Racing claims victories in two of the last three races. Although he got some help, Busch scored the best average running position of the night (4.73).

Tyler Reddick: A spin away from his first career Cup win means Reddick likely isn’t feeling like a winner, but his second-place finish should be celebrated. He and Briscoe checked out from the field during the final laps, so even though Reddick was sent for a 360-degree slide, the two-time Xfinity Series champion maximized his circumstances and got the car righted quickly enough to hold onto the runner-up spot. It’s the fourth time Reddick has finished second, and this one likely stings the most — Reddick led a race-high 99 laps, all of which were in the final 100-lap stage of the event just to be spun with a turn and a half remaining. The 26-year-old held his poise post-race though and handled the circumstances like a winner.

Kyle LarsonIt should come as no surprise to see Larson’s name in this half of the article considering his dirt prowess, but this was a much-needed fourth-place finish for the defending series champion. In nine races this year, Larson now has four top fives including a win at Auto Club Speedway, but his other five finishes are 19th or worse. Sunday was a swing back in the right direction, notching his second top five in the last three weeks. The No. 5 team still needs to find its consistency, but Bristol treated Larson well.

Christopher Bell: The No. 20 Toyota started second and ran up front all night, averaging the third-best average running position (6.06) before finishing seventh. Bristol marks Bell’s third top-10 finish in the last four races, a significant improvement from starting the year with four finishes of 23rd or worse in the first five races.

Ty DillonDillon wheeled the No. 42 Chevrolet well all weekend, culminating in a 10th-place finish for his first top 10 since Talladega in October 2020. Dillon started seventh after a strong showing in Saturday’s qualifying heat races and proved that was no fluke, averaging the seventh-best average running position of the night (9.64). He has flown under the radar with quiet, mid-pack runs but has been steady, earning six top 20s throughout the first nine races of 2022. He now sits 21st in points, gaining four positions at Bristol.

LOSERS

Chase Briscoe: Briscoe handled his post-race interactions with class and maturity, immediately seeking Reddick to apologize after eliminating either of them from the win in the final corners of the race. But while Reddick rallied to finish second, Briscoe plummeted from second to 22nd as the field stormed by en route to the checkered flag. Briscoe was impressive all race, snagging the lead from Stewart-Haas Racing teammate and polesitter Cole Custer at the start and rallying through pit strategy back to the lead after an earlier spin at Lap 50. But Briscoe now has two finishes outside the top 20 in his last four starts, the other a 30th-place finish at Circuit of the Americas.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.Bristol Dirt seemed like the perfect place for Stenhouse Jr. to capitalize on his strengths. Instead, the No. 47 car went spinning twice Sunday night and finished 29th, 10 laps down. It was a disappointment for the two-time Xfinity champion, particularly thanks to his second-place effort in this race a year ago and typical success on dirt.

Kurt BuschBusch was an innocent bystander Sunday night when Austin Dillon blew his engine at Lap 212. As Dillon’s No. 3 slowed, Busch had nowhere to go and veered right to avoid Dillon. Busch went across the track and across the nose of Aric Almirola, sending Busch’s No. 45 Toyota into the outside wall head-on and finished 32nd. After a few strong finishes to start the year, Busch has now finished 32nd or worse in three of the last four races.

Kevin HarvickHarvick left no doubt about his feelings for the dirt event at Bristol Motor Speedway. Harvick was forced to pit road in the opening laps of the event because his grille was caked in mud, causing his engine to overheat. The caution came out soon after, with officials mandating a pit stop to clean the grilles and windshields. Harvick and Custer received wavearounds to get one lap back, but Harvick felt he should have gotten the free pass to return to the lead lap. His frustrations heightened after a crash at Lap 98 saw Noah Gragson climb over the back of Harvick’s car, heavily damaging the No. 4 Ford and knocking him out of the race. Harvick finished 34th.

Denny HamlinWhen will the awful luck for Hamlin end? Yes, the No. 11 Toyota went to victory lane at Richmond Raceway on April 3, but that win remains Hamlin’s lone top-10 finish all year. A blown engine relegated Hamlin to 35th Sunday, his fifth finish outside the top 20 in nine races. Hamlin now sits 23rd in points, tied for the position with Custer.