NASCAR Bristol takeaways: How Chris Buescher won; who got eliminated
By Bob Pockrass
FOX Sports NASCAR Writer
Buescher used a two-tire stop late to take the lead Saturday night when passing was tough, and he led the final 61 laps to snap a 222-race winless streak as he celebrated the victory in the Bristol Night Race.
The caution came out when Buescher's teammate and co-owner Brad Keselowski had an apparent tire failure, resulting in pit stops on which Buescher's team took a gamble and made it work.
"This one is a little more special than the first one even, so it's pretty big," said Buescher, whose first victory came in a fog-shortened race.
It was the first victory for the revamped Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing team, as Keselowski bought in to the team after the 2021 season. Roush Fenway had not won since Ricky Stenhouse Jr. did so in Daytona in July 2017.
The race featured plenty of drama as drivers battled tire issues throughout the night. Several playoff drivers had issues, including the four eliminated from this year's playoffs; Tyler Reddick and Austin Dillon got caught up in a wreck caused by Daniel Suarez (who was able to continue and advance), Kyle Busch (engine) and Kevin Harvick (loose wheel on a pit stop).
Advancing to the quarterfinal round: Chase Elliott, Joey Logano, Ross Chastain, Kyle Larson, William Byron, Denny Hamlin, Christopher Bell, Ryan Blaney, Chase Briscoe, Alex Bowman, Suarez and Austin Cindric.
Here are a few takeaways from Bristol:
Busch and Harvick eliminated
Busch and Harvick had never been eliminated in the first round, but both had two races in this first round in which they did not finish.
Busch had two engine failures, and the one Saturday eliminated him.
"I'm flabbergasted," Busch said. "I just feel so bad for my guys. They don't deserve to be in this spot. They work too hard. We are too good of a group to be this low — down on the bottom, fighting for our lives just to make it through.
"Two engine failures in three weeks, that will do it to you."
Harvick had a fire in the opening race and a crash the following week. He was running in the top five at times Saturday, but a loose wheel resulted in his having to delay leaving the pits for another tire change.
"Just went from having a chance to lead the parade to being a part of the parade," Harvick said. "Just difficult to pass."
Blaney's troubles — and advance
Blaney led nine laps early and had a strong car before a flat tire sent him into the wall. The team needed 160 laps to make repairs — a team can make repairs as long as they make minimum speed, which Blaney did within the allotted 10 minutes of working on the car — and used its big cushion entering the race to clinch while others had issues.
"There really wasn't much we could do, just log laps and let everything play itself out," Blaney said. "That's why you try to have two good races beforehand because you never know when you're going to need some points."
Suarez causes wreck, advances
Suarez caused a wreck while admittedly trying to do too much, and the wreck ended the day of Dillon and caused enough damage to ruin Reddick's championship hopes.
"We just kind of got collected in that accident back there," Reddick said. "I checked up in time, but I got absolutely ran over from there.
"It caught the right front and broke the upper control arm for the second week in a row."
Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including the past 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrass, and sign up for the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass.