Drivers strive to advance
Two of the three top NASCAR series were back home to race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The Xfinity series raced on Saturday night after rain forced a five-hour delay on the start of the Drive for the Cure 300. Hurricane Nate played havoc with the weather in the south most of the weekend.
In stage one, Daniel Suarez paced the field and grabbed the win. In stage two, Erik Jones took the victory. In the final laps, Alex Bowman, who was making his first start in several months, showed that he still could get it done. He won the race over Sam Hornish Jr. Ryan Blaney finished third. Austin Dillon and Brennan Poole rounded out the top five.
This was an elimination race for the playoffs and the field was narrowed from 12 to eight. Brendan Gaughan, Michael Annett, Blake Koch and Jeremy Clements were the drivers eliminated.
Eight drivers move on in the playoff race. Justin Allgaier, Ryan Reed, William Byron, Elliott Sadler, Cole Custer, Daniel Hemric, Brennan Poole and Matt Tifft are the drivers advancing to the next race in the round of eliminations at Kansas Motor Speedway on Oct. 21 in the Kansas Lottery 300.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup series ran the Bank of America 500 on Sunday. Kevin Harvick was “freaky fast,” as the slogan for his Jimmy Johns Sandwiches Ford says! He won both of the first two stages.
There was a late race caution which caused the race to go into overtime for the finish. On that last restart, Martin Truex Jr. drove away from the field and into victory lane. Martin became emotional in victory lane because his girlfriend is continuing to fight cancer and was unable to be at this week’s races.
Chase Elliott continues to knock at the door to victory, finishing second once again. Kevin Harvick finished third. Denny Hamlin and Jamie McMurray rounded out the top five.
Twelve drivers are moving forward in the round of 12 playoff race at Talladega Super Speedway next Sunday. Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson, Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Jamie McMurray, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. take their championship hopes to the most unpredictable track on the schedule.
Talladega and the high speed pack racing that restrictor plates bring almost guarantees several large crashes. The Alabama 500 promises to be a wild card in the run for the playoffs.
The Camping World Truck series is back in action at Talladega also, after a week off. The Fred’s Pharmacy 250 runs this coming Saturday afternoon. This is their first race in the round of eight playoff races.
Christopher Bell leads the points, followed closely by Ben Rhodes and cagey veteran Matt Crafton. Five other drivers are still in the battle for the championship. Talladega can make or break the hopes of Johnny Sauter, Chase Briscoe, Austin Cindric, Kaz Grala and John Hunter Nemechek.
Love it or hate it, pack racing is always exciting and you never know when the slightest mistake can cause a huge crash. I plan to be right there on the edge of my seat to report on the action next week as the championship playoffs continue to work toward those final races at Homestead-Miami Speedway in November.
Don’t forget, the Elkins Raceway Awards Banquet is just around the corner on Nov. 11 at the Beverly Fire Hall.
Check with track management for tickets, as there will be no tickets sold at the door. Short column this week but remember, at the end of the straight away there’s always Another Left Turn.