Although a wild day at the Charlotte Roval made for plenty to keep up with, the four drivers who entered below the cutline were the ones eliminated from the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.
Kevin Harvick, Christopher Bell, William Byron, and Alex Bowman did not advance into the Round of 8. Harvick needed to make up nine points on the cutline but crashed out of the race on lap 99 when he locked up the tires going into Turn 1. Bell could have advanced on points but needed help, while Byron and Bowman were in must-win situations.
“Two words, rear grip,” Bell said of what he needed to compete for the win. “I don’t know we just couldn’t quite hit it. We struggled, and I made a lot of mistakes driving too, but ultimately, we weren’t fast enough to go up there and compete for the win. Came away with an eighth-place finish, which is a lot better than it was looking like we were going to have today.”
Bowman finished 10th with an ill Chevrolet. The No. 48 team battled alternator issues all afternoon and needed to make a battery change at the end of the second stage.
“It acted like it threw the belt, so we came down and put a belt on it and (that wasn’t the issue),” Bowman said. “I don’t know what we had going on, but it’s unfortunate. It’s tough to make a car live long here without any brake fans and tire cooling, but Greg (Ives, crew chief) and all the guys on the 48 Ally team did such a good job letting me know what I needed to do to get it to the finish line and what I could and couldn’t do with fans.
“We put a battery in it at one point and kind of went from there. I hate it. I’m glad we got a top 10. I’m exhausted. I’m just mentally drained after the roller coaster that was. But it’s good to get a top 10. I wish we had more.”
— NASCAR (@NASCAR) October 10, 2021
Bryon finished 11th and gave it everything he had, even spinning off course in the final five laps from pushing too hard. Byron led a race-high 30 laps.
A win for Kyle Larson gives him an additional five playoff points to move his total to 65. Larson is more than a full race ahead to begin the next round. The maximum number of points to earn in a race is 60.
Texas Motor Speedway, Kansas Speedway, and Martinsville Speedway will cut the playoff field from eight to the Championship 4.
The reseeded playoff grid:
- Kyle Larson – 4065
- Denny Hamlin – 4030
- Martin Truex Jr. – 4029
- Ryan Blaney – 4024
- Kyle Busch – 4023
- Chase Elliott – 4022
- Joey Logano – 4013
- Brad Keselowski – 4008