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Kyle Larson celebrated victory in Saturday’s nighttime Bass Pro Shops race with burnout on the Bristol Motor Speedway frontstretch, as spirits heated between Kevin Harvick and Chase Elliott on the pit road.
With an assist from Elliott, who took the Harvick line on the 0.533 mile concrete track and slowed his progress, Larson made the winning pass on lap 397 of 400 and sealed his sixth NASCAR victory of the season. Cup Series.
On the other end of the spectrum, Aric Almirola, Tyler Reddick, Kurt Busch and Michael McDowell were knocked out of the playoffs in the round of 16 cutoff race. William Byron clinched the final transfer spot in the round of 16, finishing third behind Larson and Harvick.
The result gave Byron a two-point advantage over Almirola and Reddick, the top two drivers out of the playoffs.
On lap 465 of 500, as Harvick tried to pass Elliott for the lead, the driver of the # 4 Ford Stewart-Haas Racing nipped Elliott’s Chevrolet towards the outside wall, with contact between the cars cutting a tire on Elliott’s machine.
Elliott brought his car to the pit lane on lap 466, lost three laps in the process, and returned to the track behind Harvick. With new tires, Elliott quickly passed Harvick to recover a lap and took the Harvick line at the top of the track.
Larson gradually moved closer to Harvick and made the winning pass on lap 397. Larson did an admirable job keeping his car under control as Harvick hit back with a contact in the back of Larson’s Camaro on the stretch. before.
Of the 12 drivers who qualified for the second round of the Playoffs, four represent Hendrick Motorsports (Elliott, Larson, Byron and Alex Bowman); four represent Joe Gibbs Racing (Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr. and Christopher Bell); and three represent the Penske team (Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney).
Harvick is the only Stewart-Haas Racing driver to qualify for the round of 12.
Kyle Busch and Bell both survived cut tires towards the end of the race to clinch places on the next lap. Blaney was fourth and Bowman fifth on Saturday night. Keselowski, Truex, Erik Jones, Hamlin and Matt DiBenedetto round out the top 10.