BEDFORD – Denny Hamlin outdueled Kyle Larson for the victory at the Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway in what could be a preview of the two drivers fighting for the championship as they have had the most consistent speed over the first round.
Denny Hamlin won to score his 51st career NASCAR Cup Series victory, his third of the season, and his third at Bristol.
His margin over second-place Kyle Larson was 2.437 seconds.
There were six caution periods for a total of 53 laps. Only 10 of the 36 drivers in the race finished on the lead lap.
Former Cup champions Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano were among those eliminated from championship contention, along with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Michael McDowell.
“We’ve been like that all year. We’ve been hit or miss. Tonight we just missed by a mile. I’ve had some good days and bad days (at Bristol), but that’s definitely the worst one I’ve had with fenders on it. I didn’t really have many expectations (for the playoffs) with as up and down as the year has been. It is what it is. It’s probably about what we deserve,” said Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 GEARWRENCH Ford Mustang
Stage 1 Winner: Christopher Bell of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner: Christopher Bell of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
SHR Race Finish:
- Ryan Preece (Started 17th, Finished 12th / Running, completed 499 of 500 laps)
- Aric Almirola (Started 26th, Finished 18th / Running, completed 499 of 500 laps)
- Chase Briscoe (Started 14th, Finished 27th / Running, completed 495 of 500 laps)
- Kevin Harvick (Started 21st, Finished 29th / Running, completed 495 of 500 laps)
- Kevin Harvick (14th with 2,071 points, four points below the top-12 cutoff)
- Aric Almirola (22nd with 510 points)
- Ryan Preece (24th with 484 points)
- Chase Briscoe (30th with 383 points)
Playoff Standings to Begin Round of 12:
- William Byron (3,036 points)
- Martin Truex Jr. (3,036 points)
- Denny Hamlin (3,032 points) -4
- Kyle Larson (3,023 points) -13
- Chris Buescher (3,021 points) -15
- Kyle Busch (3,019 points) -17
- Christopher Bell (3,016 points) -20
- Tyler Reddick (3,014 points) -22
- Ross Chastain (3,011 points) -25
- Brad Keselowski (3,011 points) -25
- Ryan Blaney (3,008 points) -28
- Bubba Wallace (3,000 points) -36
Failed to Advance to Round of 12:
13. Joey Logano (2,071 points)
14. Kevin Harvick (2,071 points)
15. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (2,068 points)
16. Michael McDowell (2,059 points)
This was Preece’s fifth straight top-20 at Bristol. His average finish at the track is 15th in six career starts. He finished ninth in Stage 2 to earn two bonus points.
“We just need speed. Our long run isn’t terrible, but we struggled to fire off to where we could be aggressive and then once you get your track position, you can hold it. Gotta find the grip and the speed, and that’ll change our days,” said Ryan Preece, driver of the No. 41 International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE) Ford Mustang
This was Almirola’s fourth straight top-20. He finished third on Aug. 26 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, 14th Sept. 3 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway and 17th last Sunday at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.
The next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400 on Sunday, Sept. 24 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. The fourth race in the 10-race NASCAR Playoffs starts at 3:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by USA and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.