On Saturday, Chris Buescher steals the show with a NASCAR Cup Series win at Bristol Motor Speedway in the Bass Pro Shops Night Race.
The final race of the opening round of the NASCAR Cup Series playoff was hosted at Bristol Motor Speedway. This was the first time the next-gen car was showcased on a concrete surface. Under the lights, and with a car making its first appearance on this surface, it was the perfect setting for a stressed-induced race. The playoff race remains tight with no real certainty on who was going to advance to the next round. All this was to be sorted out on Saturday in the Bass Pro Shops Night Race.
The Pole Sitter is Aric Almirola
Aric Almirola paced the field to the green flag. He was able to lead the opening 36 laps before Ryan Blaney was able to overtake him for the lead.
On lap 41, Harrison Burton lost his right-front tire causing him to hit the wall in the third turn. Brad Keselowski opted not to pit under the caution, and he restarted with the lead. Keselowski led the following 42 laps until Ryan Blaney lost a tire.
Keselowski stayed on the track once more to continue leading. He was able to charge on for thirty more laps to win the opening stage.
For the Restart, Chris Buescher Takes the Lead
Chris Buescher took over the lead coming into the second stage. There was an early caution with Harrison Burton spinning around once more. Coming out of the caution, Buescher continued to pave the way.
During fifty lap run, Buescher had issues passing lapped cars. This gave Kevin Harvick the opportunity to try to pass for the lead. Buescher was able to hold him off right as another caution came out with Harrison Burton having a tire go down.
During the caution, three drivers began to see issues with the power steering. Martin Truex Jr, Denny Hamlin, and Alex Bowman all reported difficulties steering. Regardless, Chris Buescher moved ahead with the lead, but the race was not green for long as Denny Hamlin lost a tire and hit the wall.
All the leaders came to pit road with Christopher Bell staying out to control the lead. He controlled the restart with nine laps remaining and was able to win the second stage.
Christopher Bell Leads the Field to Start the Third Stage
Christopher Bell continued to lead into stage three and was able to lead through an early caution due to Kyle Busch having an engine failure. Bell continued with the lead and was able to control the pace during a long green flag run.
On lap 352, the caution came out with Erik Jones having a flat tire. Kyle Larson passed Bell on pit road and was able to set the pace late in the final stage.
With 64 laps remaining, Christopher Bell lost his tire forcing the caution to come out once more.
Chris Buescher Steals the Show with a NASCAR Cup Series Win at Bristol
During this caution, Chris Buescher had a two-tire stop that earned him the lead with 36 laps remaining. Buescher was able to control the final 36 laps with no issues to win the Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol.
It was an unexpected outcome to the opening round of the 2022 playoffs. A non-playoff driver was able to win three races in the Round of 16. With no playoff driver finding a way to win into the Round of 12, all twelve spots were available coming into Saturday night’s race.
Some teams continued to have issues and were unable to capitalize. Tyler Reddick, Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon, and Kevin Harvick have all been eliminated from championship contention.
Chase Elliott currently sits at the top with a 31-point advantage. This will surely help him out with the racetracks in the next playoff round.
Up Next for the NASCAR Cup Series
The series now heads to Texas Motor Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway, and Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course. It will be a fast-paced Round of 12, and one that will surely make or break a driver’s bid for a championship title.