The NASCAR Cup Series Round of Eight kicked off on October 17 at Texas Motor Speedway. Eight drivers had the goal of reaching the championship four, but Kyle Larson managed to survive a caution-filled final stage and lock up the win after a truly dominant performance. He reached the championship four for the first time in his Cup Series career.
The drivers lined up for a two-lap shootout after an incident crumpled the front of Denny Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota Camry. Larson lined up next to William Byron on the front row with Brad Keselowski behind him. The driver of the No. 2 Team Penske Ford gave Larson a shove and propelled him to the front of the pack. Larson held on and capped off a day in which he led 256 of the 334 laps.
Larson praised the drivers that pushed him during the seven restarts in the final stage. He said that his peers gave him the advantage into Turn 1 so that he didn’t have to stress at all about Turn 2. He just focused on avoiding mistakes en route to his eighth win of the season.
Larson’s teammate William Byron finished the race second while Christopher Bell took third. Brad Keselowski was the only other playoff driver to finish in the top-five as he ended the day fourth overall. Kevin Harvick, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, Kyle Busch, Tyler Reddick, and Daniel Suarez rounded out the top-10.
A Mechanical Issue Ruined Joey Logano’s Day
The driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford Mustang entered the race at Texas Motor Speedway with the goal of making moves and starting a “perfect” Round of Eight. Logano sat 11 points below the cutline and in serious need of a strong performance to keep him in the hunt for the championship four. However, his day came to an early end after a sudden mechanical issue.
The incident occurred on Lap 299 of the playoff race. Logano was fighting for position inside the top-10, but smoke suddenly came billowing out from under the No. 22. He immediately maneuvered down to the track apron before making his way to pit road. Logano skipped his pit box and pulled behind the wall, confirming that his day was over.
With a mechanical issue ruining his day, the driver of the No. 22 knew that he can no longer make his way to the championship four by virtue of points. He will have to win at either Kansas Speedway or Martinsville Speedway in order to reach the championship race for the fifth time in eight seasons.
A Historic Wreck Occurred During Stage 1 & Collected 15 Cars
While the race remained green until the competition caution on Lap 25, it did not remain caution-free. An incident actually occurred on Lap 31 after many drivers headed to pit road for fresh tires and fuel.
Bubba Wallace sparked the largest wreck in Texas Motor Speedway history in the No. 23 Toyota Camry. He got loose on the inside of Kurt Busch’s No. 1 Chevrolet and spun to the left. Ross Chastain, Alex Bowman, and Cole Custer all collided with the No. 23 and created a logjam in the center of the track.
According to the NASCAR officials, there were 15 drivers involved in the wreck. The list included Wallace, Bowman, Chastain, Custer, Ryan Newman, Aric Almirola, Ryan Preece, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Justin Haley, Chase Briscoe, Michael McDowell, Anthony Alfredo, Josh Bilicki, Joey Gase, and Kyle Busch. However, the driver of the No. 18 JGR Toyota Camry only suffered minor damage and went on to win Stage 1.
“Just an embarrassment on my part,” Wallace told NBC Sports after the wreck. “Just trying to get clean air, went to the middle, and my a** was no good. I backed out. By the time I backed out, it was already around. So sorry to everyone that came here to cheer on the 23 car. I let everyone down, I let my team down. I apologize to them.”