NASCAR Cup Bristol: Buescher ends 222-race winless streak to beat Elliott

Chris Buescher provided a third consecutive playoff surprise, holding off Chase Elliott to win Saturday night’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

NASCAR Cup Bristol: Buescher ends 222-race winless streak to beat Elliott

Buescher assumed the lead among the final series of pitstops, which coincided with a caution brought out for then-leader Christopher Bell.

After Bell had inherited the lead when Brad Keselowski was forced to pit under green with a flat tyre, sparks began pouring out of the back of his Toyota Camry on Lap 436 and he tagged the wall with a flat right-rear tire, which brought out the 11th caution of the race.

Buescher was the first off pit road thanks to a two-tyre pit call but he also got a little help; two of the top contenders for the win in Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin both had problems during their respective stops that shuffled them back in the field.

Harvick had a left-front wheel come off during his stop and Hamlin overshot his stall and had to back up on pit road before completing his stop.

On the restart on Lap 444, Buescher was followed by Elliott, William Byron and Kyle Larson, as Harvick lined up 10th and Hamlin 11th due to their pitlane misfortune.

Buescher maintained his lead over Elliott, keeping the 2020 Cup champion about half a second in his wake. He then deftly navigated lapped traffic before clearing Elliott by 0.458 seconds for the win.

Race winner Chris Buescher, RFK Racing, Ford Mustang

Race winner Chris Buescher, RFK Racing, Ford Mustang

Photo by: Nigel Kinrade / NKP / Motorsport Images

The victory ends a 222-race winless streak for Buescher, whose last victory – and first of his career – came in a rain-shortened race at Pocono Raceway in 2016.

Buescher, 29, becomes the 19th different race winner of the 2022 season, tying a NASCAR record. He also is the third straight non-playoff driver to win in the first three races of the 10-race playoffs, also a first.

“It’s so special here. I love this race track,” Buescher said. “I love the fans. I love every time we come here. It’s so special. It’s pretty awesome.”

Asked if he was worried about the two-tire call on his final stop, Buescher said, “I wasn’t a bit. It was up to me at that point. I made it work and we had a really fast (car). We knew we had a really fast race car in practice and didn’t quite get the job done in qualifying – but what a race car.

“I don’t know what all to say right now. I’m out of breath. This place will wear you flat-out and I love that about it. It’s just a special night."

Kyle Busch, Harvick and both Richard Childress Racing drivers, Austin Dillon and Tyler Reddick were eliminated from the playoffs - and thus denied them from any further contention for the series championship.

Byron ended up finishing third in the race, while Bell recovered from his earlier wall-scrape and crossed the line fourth. Bell had previously claimed the Stage 2 win, as the opening stage was claimed by Keselowski. Larson rounded out the top-five to bolster his ambitions of progressing in the playoffs.

Trackhouse's Ross Chastain also progressed to the next round of the play-offs with sixth place ahead of AJ Allmendinger, who claimed a good finish for the Kaulig Racing squad. Cole Custer, Hamlin and Harvick completed the top 10.

Advancing to the Round of 12

Chase Elliott
Joey Logano
Ross Chastain
Kyle Larson
William Byron
Denny Hamlin
Christopher Bell
Ryan Blaney
Chase Briscoe
Alex Bowman
Daniel Suarez
Austin Cindric

NASCAR Cup Bristol race results - 500 laps

Cla Driver Manufacturer Time Gap
1 United States Chris Buescher Ford 3:01'06.717  
2 United States Chase Elliott Chevrolet 3:01'07.175 0.458
3 United States William Byron Chevrolet 3:01'08.384 1.667
4 United States Christopher Bell Toyota 3:01'08.526 1.809
5 United States Kyle Larson Chevrolet 3:01'10.405 3.688
6 United States Ross Chastain Chevrolet 3:01'10.823 4.106
7 United States A.J. Allmendinger Chevrolet 3:01'12.711 5.994
8 United States Cole Custer Ford 3:01'14.365 7.648
9 United States Denny Hamlin Toyota 3:01'14.601 7.884
10 United States Kevin Harvick Ford 3:01'15.138 8.421
11 United States Michael McDowell Ford 3:01'16.121 9.404
12 United States Justin Haley Chevrolet 3:01'16.572 9.855
13 United States Brad Keselowski Ford 3:01'20.199 1 Lap
14 United States Chase Briscoe Ford 3:01'09.032 2 Laps
15 United States Corey Lajoie Chevrolet 3:01'07.454 3 Laps
16 United States Harrison Burton Ford 3:01'08.098 3 Laps
17 United States Cody Ware Ford 3:01'09.317 3 Laps
18 United States Todd Gilliland Ford 3:01'16.793 4 Laps
19 Mexico Daniel Suarez Chevrolet 3:01'07.738 6 Laps
20 United States Austin Cindric Ford 3:01'22.855 7 Laps
21 United States Erik Jones Chevrolet 3:01'09.791 8 Laps
22 United States Landon Cassill Chevrolet 3:01'14.210 8 Laps
23 United States J.J. Yeley Ford 3:01'18.859 9 Laps
24 United States B.J. McLeod Ford 3:01'21.966 9 Laps
25 United States Tyler Reddick Chevrolet 3:01'13.611 31 Laps
26 United States Ty Dillon Chevrolet 2:53'24.432 43 Laps
27 United States Joey Logano Ford 2:52'03.251 63 Laps
28 United States Aric Almirola Ford 2:36'38.962 82 Laps
29 United States Bubba Wallace Toyota 3:01'17.482 92 Laps
30 United States Ryan Blaney Ford 3:01'07.330 162 Laps
31 United States Austin Dillon Chevrolet 1:59'17.730 221 Laps
32 United States Alex Bowman Chevrolet 1:48'35.909 223 Laps
33 United States Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Chevrolet 1:48'03.098 224 Laps
34 United States Kyle Busch Toyota 1:42'34.767 231 Laps
35 Ty Gibbs Toyota 2:30'16.097 235 Laps
36 United States Martin Truex Jr. Toyota 1:10'36.433 302 Laps

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