The first race in the Round of 12 of the NASCAR Playoffs took place in NASCAR’s backyard as most team headquarters are located in Charlotte, North Carolina. The race was much more action-packed than any of the races in the Round of 16 and made for a very entertaining afternoon.
The minute the green flag flew, the intensity was felt. Chase Elliott made huge moves within the first 4 laps as he leaped from 7th to 3rd. Out in front, Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin put the pressure on one another as they jockeyed for position. The stage saw two cautions; the first for the competition yellow on Lap 35 to check tire wear, and another on Lap 43 when Ryan Newman came up in front of Clint Bowyer. The two tangled and Newman erupted in flames under the hood of his #31 Chevrolet. Newman was out of the race, however, Bowyer’s team managed to make the necessary repairs and continued the race. Bowyer would finish 3 laps down in the 27th position. When the stage came to a close, it was Kevin Harvick who took the extra playoff point.
Only 20 laps into stage 2, the #95 of Michael McDowell spun in Turn 2 and created a long trail of smoke that brought out the 4th caution of the day. Luckily, McDowell was able to keep the car off the wall so he did not incur any damage.
Earlier in the weekend, during the first practice, Kyle Busch had scaped the wall in Turn 4. The team decided to repair the damage and continued using the primary car for the race, instead of pulling out the backup. Unfortunately, when Busch scraped the wall again on Lap 137 and redamaged the whole right side of the car, a downward spiral ensued.
Stage 2 ended with Kevin Harvick out front once again.
It wasn’t until the final 60 laps to go that the intensity in the last stage ramped up. On Lap 272, Landon Cassill spun down the track. The #10 of Danica Patrick had nowhere to go on the bottom lane and ended up colliding with him. Patrick’s day was done as the front of her car was completely torn up. Cassill was able to continue and finished in the 25th position.
Only 7 laps later, Kyle Busch‘s #18 Toyota Camry started smoking after brushing the wall once again and it brought out the 8th caution of the day. With 9 laps remaining, Busch brought out the caution yet again when he spun by himself in the middle of Turn 3. His older brother Kurt had major problems when the race restarted with 4 to go. Going into Turn 1, Kurt Busch‘s #41 Ford suddenly shot up the track and tagged the back of Kyle Larson. The 10th yellow flag was displayed and the Bank of America 500 went into overtime.
The race restarted with 2 laps to go and Martin Truex Jr in the lead. Truex took off from the rest of the field and sailed to his 6th win of the season. Meanwhile, Chase Elliott finished 2nd for the third time in the playoffs.
Coming to the checkered flag, teammates Chris Buescher and AJ Allmendinger got together and wrecked across the finish line. Allmendinger spun to the apron of the track while Buescher was sent flying through the infield grass.
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