The NASCAR Cup Series had its first elimination race at the Bristol Motor Speedway on Saturday. The race did not quite have its share of action that Bristol usually has to offer. However, it was a skillfully driven race by many of the drivers.
Kevin Harvick’s skills shone through the most, as he won his ninth race this season to close in on a rare feat. Despite not having many crashes and wrecks, emotions still ran high as so much was as stake. Especially for the drivers battling for a place in the next round.
The team radios captured some of these displays of emotion.
The first stage itself saw an early wreck as Jimmie Johnson seemed to nudge Ricky Stenhouse Jr. that sent him into the wall. “The No. 48 just turned down on us. Crashed us,” Stenhouse Jr’s spotter said on the radio.
Johnson did not agree to this and shot back saying, “Really? He got in my left rear.”
Kyle Busch’s No. 18 car and Christopher Bell’s No. 95 were on pit road together. Busch was ready to leave but had to back up as he did not have the space to move ahead due to the 95.
“Anybody want to tell me they couldn’t get that s*** worked out?” Busch said. His Crew Chief, Adam Stevens, replied, “Yeah, no kidding. We’ll definitely remind them though.”
Teammates Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. collided out of nowhere, and Hamlin’s car suffered heavy damage. “Tell the 11 I’m sorry, guys,” Truex Jr. said for his teammate.
William Byron’s hopes of making the next round then faded as he suffered a collision with another car after Joey Gase stopped in the middle of the straightaway. Gase’s 51 car too was involved in the wreck. He said he was fine, but his spotter needed some confirmation.
“Say it again, man. I was getting my *** chewed out here,” spotter Tony Micale said.
The final few laps were all about the battle between Harvick and Busch. The tension in both camps was palpable. Harvick then showed his superiority and won the race. “Ain’t nothing like winning at this place,” a team member of the No. 4 car said.
The field now moves to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the second round of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.